A Waldorf kindergarten is an extension of home-life—it is a bridge between home and school and a gentle gateway to formal schooling.
A Waldorf classroom imbues warmth. From the physical environment (natural wooden toys and furniture, silks, wool, handmade baby dolls, etc.) to the warm snack served, to the emotional warmth of the teachers, the classroom is a world of warmth, security, and beauty. There is a calm tone of reverence, respect, and joy in the room, while also being a world full of magic, wonder, song, and light.
The focus is on the wellbeing of the whole child and preparing the children for the academic learning that will take place in 1st grade.
All teachers know that the best predicting factors of academic success in the early elementary years is a child’s social, emotional, and developmental readiness prior to entering school.
In kindergarten, the emphasis is on learning through doing. The children are active in work and play, song and movement. The children learn through imitation, purposeful play, storytelling/puppetry, and domestic and artistic activities. These activities nurture and challenge the child’s will, develop healthy habits, and refine social skills. The child’s natural curiosity and creativity are encouraged and engaged. Thinking capacities and memory forces are helped to develop and grow strong. The overall well being of each child is tended with attention and care.
The rhythm of the kindergarten class is three-fold—yearly, weekly, and daily. Rhythm or predictability helps the young child know what to expect each day and thus feel secure.
Rhythm is a natural breathing in and out that we all experience and is resonated in nature—from our heartbeat, the changing of the seasons, the tides, and the rising and setting of the sun. Children are naturally and usually in-tune with these rhythms (ex. waking with the sunrise and sleeping when the sun sets).
In the classroom, the yearly rhythm of the seasons is brought through seasonal songs, games, stories, crafts, festivals, and nature table.
Our weekly rhythm follows what is occurring on that day. Instead of saying “Monday”, “Tuesday”…etc. children know each day as for example “painting day,” “drawing day,” etc.
This starts the child with a concrete understanding of the day which is later converted into the abstract "name" of the day.
Daily, children’s activities will happen in a predictable schedule and are balanced between more open activities (such as inside play, outside play) and guided or held activities (such as snack, or story time). The familiarity of a regular rhythm, whether in class or at home, creates the best possible learning environment for the young child.