Early childhood is a time of rapid growth and learning for children – but it’s a time of rapid growth and learning for parents too. The needs of the baby and toddler are pressing but fairly basic and obvious: Feed, diaper, bathe, rest, carry, soothe, respond. By the time our children reach the 2 – 4 year range we often feel as parents that it is time to provide something more – it’s time for preschool!
You may have heard that Waldorf nurseries (preschools) and kindergartens are modeled on the traditional rhythms of the home. They are carefully designed to feel like home. The teachers are warm and nurturing and they hold the space for children to play in a home-like environment. The teachers gently guide the rhythms of the day, invite the children to participate in rhythmic work such as baking or carding wool, and they sing and tell stories. There are no academic lessons because early childhood is a crucial time of laying a foundation for the rest of life – and that foundation is in the body.
You may have also heard that because Waldorf nurseries and kindergartens are modeled on the home, there is no need for you to model your home life on school life. And I do agree! But I think as parents we can feel a little lost when we hear this. We weren’t raised in traditional homes ourselves and we didn’t go through teacher training and you can say that Waldorf-inspired early years at home is simple but we know that there’s a special something-something happening in those schools and we can’t quite put our fingers on it. Where in the world is the instruction manual?
How do you hold the space for children to play?
How do you guide the rhythms of the day?
How do you do all those beautiful crafts, sing, and tell stories?
I’m creating a very practical guide to help you. In 30 days I hope to give you not just an overview of the essentials of Waldorf-inspired preschool but also very concrete steps you can take to provide your child with a complete and holistic preschool education at home.
This isn’t an easy task for the teacher (that’s you!). It doesn’t involve using workbooks or following phonics programs. It’s difficult to capture in a curriculum. It does involve developing a perspective, trying a new approach, observing your children, and actively guiding your family life.
It definitely involves a whole lot of building relationships with your children and letting them play.
I could write reams of theoretical information on child development in the first seven years – but that’s not what this guide is about. It’s about giving you simple steps to take to create a thriving family life in the preschool years.
I hope you’ll join me tomorrow for Day 1!