Guest Author - Alissa Moy
Is the Waldorf method of teaching right for your preschooler? Read on to discover how this naturalistic methodology could benefit your child. The Waldorf ideas stress the importance of educating the whole child—body, mind, and spirit. In the early grades, there is an emphasis on arts and crafts, music and movement, and nature. Older children are taught to develop self-awareness and how to reason things out for themselves. Children in a Waldorf homeschool tend not to favor the use of textbooks, but often use books that the children create themselves. The use of computers and television are discouraged by many proponents of this method, as it is thought to hamper children's creative abilities. The full potential of each child is to be considered when teaching, and goals are not stressed. There tends to be less pressure to "perform" within this philosophy. Art is also to be a major part of curriculum. Three key components are stressed within this teaching environment:
1.Intellect- applying logic and independent thinking and prior knowledge.
2.Heart- acknowledging the importance of feelings, and the expressions of these.
3.Hands-using handiwork, crafts and art to express oneself. Art is involved in most every part of the curriculum.
*There is also a special emphasis on environmental awareness and responsibility for the planet on which we live.
A typical preschool classroom utilizing the Waldorf methodology would follow a rhythm of the day that is led by the teacher,and also influenced directly by the children. The classroom would be viewed by the children as community where the children are given many opportunities to assist the teacher and their friends in the activities that shape the rhythm of the day.
Certain activities may include cooking and baking, gardening, crafts and art projects, nature walks, storytelling, puppetry, plays and dramatics, and circle or sharing time. The themes tend to revolve around nature and the natural world. For example, a nature table in the classroom might reflect the seasons, such as a sand and water play area for the warmer months and seasons. Nature walks, with an awareness of nature and it’s rhythms is regularly enjoyed by students,weather permitting.
As a play-based classroom, children will likely find natural wooden toys of many varieties. Other toys and centers often include a play kitchen, dress-up area, or a puppet theater. Blocks, river puzzles and other manipulatives are emphasized for the children to not only enjoy, but also learn from their play.
The Waldorf methodology for teaching preschoolers is creative, unique and perfect for a nature loving child. Below are some suggestions for books to aid you in choosing a Waldorf environment.