Waldorf 101: Waldorf “Preschool”

Faithful readers of this blog will probably know  what I am going to say:  there is no Waldorf preschool. Waldorf Kindergarten used to start after age 4, and now the age has dropped to age 3 with “Morning Garden” classes for toddlers to age 3 in many schools.  Both Donna Simmons and I have a strong dislike of where the Waldorf schools are headed in terms of taking younger and younger children out of the home.  Waldorf Kindergartens work to emulate a loving home, and this is something that we obviously can work on at home for far less cost and for far more personal development than perhaps would occur if our child was at Waldorf school.  Having your children with you 24/7 forces your own spiritual growth!  Ask any homeschooling mother!

So, if we are thinking about “preschool” we are thinking about the ages before age 4, or perhaps I would even argue before the age of 5 or 6.  I think in the home environment really we need to do “Waldorf Kindergarten” around the five-year-old year and the six-year-old year.  These are the ages for increased attention, increased ability to do artistic and creative work in a focused fashion.  It is just a thought; I know some will disagree.

Here are a few things to work on in the years before starting Waldorf Kindergarten in your home:

  • Work on your own ability to nurture and enfold your child into life on Earth.
  • Establish a rhythm for your child, your family, your life.  If you are still struggling with rhythm when you hit homeschooling for the grades, it will be difficult to focus on teaching.  Remember though, rhythm is not a schedule but a flow.
  • Establish health of your child through protection of the 12 senses, use of warmth, establishing rhythm.
  • Repetition!  It is what little people need!
  • Play, singing, interaction
  • Including your child in household chores
  • Outside and sensory experiences
  • Fostering the imagination through oral storytelling

If you need more information regarding the very Early Years, try the Waldorf Baby tag and Rhythm tags.  If you need more information regarding Waldorf Kindergarten, please try that tag.

Less is more in the Waldorf Home.  Please remember the differences between the Waldorf Home with a six-year-old versus a three-year old.  There should be a difference!

Love,

Carrie

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11 thoughts on “Waldorf 101: Waldorf “Preschool”

  1. Interesting post, Carrie. I think it’s true that the Waldorf “preschool” should emulate the home environment as much as possible, and that the best place for 3-4 year old children is the home. I am glad, though, that the Waldorf movement is supporting parents who choose to work outside of the home. I believe that for some families working outside the home is the right choice.
    I taught Waldorf preschool for years and currently am running a Waldorf early childhood aftercare program and I know that if I weren’t caring for these children someone else would be, and it would not be their parents. Every day I am grateful that these little ones are spending their afternoons with me and I do my best to honor and respect the choices that their parents have made.

  2. Carrie,

    Thank you for another relevent post! My oldest is only 4 1/2, so this year we’re working on our rhythm as well as trying to incorporate a simple Morning Circle most days. We are involved in a Waldorf co-op where the children gather for Circle (verses, storytelling, movement verses, songs) then a craft, lunch together, followed by a hike or play in the forest. Next year we may continue with Waldorf “preschool”, since my twins are not quite 3 now.

    Peace,
    Carrie

  3. Dear Carrie,
    I had some mail exchange with Donna Simmons about this issue. Here in Italy Waldorf preschool and K are all in one SCUOLA MATERNA from 3 to 6. What I mean is there is no big difference with public Scuola materna apart from the afternoon childcare which is shorter than in public schools.

    I’ve got a lexical question: why in America you call preschool the early yeras care and not the year right before school? It’s kind of strange to me!

    I totally agree with you and Donna but from the child’s point of view. What if a mom has a job which is also the fullfillment of her destiny/mission? It’s not my case but I know some moms are like that.
    When I read about Waldorf preschool-K in the US I see their timetable-schedule is much shorter than Waldorf preschool-k here in Italy. Her it’s usually 5 times a week from 8-9 till 13.00-13.30. And again I think the american time is better for the child but I’ve got a question: can moms who choose Waldorf K work part-time? Here even a part time job is 4 hours from generally 9 till 13.
    My personal situation is too long to explain in English but I could say I’m not working and my child goes 3-4 times a week.

    Ciao
    Federica

    • In the US, public school for 4 year olds is called PreK, 5 year olds are usually in Kindergarten, 6 years old in Public school are in First Grade usually…Just depends on when the birthday is..
      Waldorf Kindergarten is ages 3-6, just like there…people ask about Waldorf preschool for homeschooling but just are not probably familiar with the terms in Waldorf land…and since acadmics start in First, it kind of all is “Preschool” if you only think of school in terms of academics :)

  4. Bravo! This is just where we are with Sam and I can’t imagine (as I couldn’t with my older ones either) the thought of any kind of schooling at this age. If anyone is learning, it is me… learning about this sweet little person and all of his fun things he brings to me.

    The only work that should be done in the preschool years is on mom! Mom should get herself ready – there is so much to learn. Play, sing and play some more! We have forgotten how to just BE.

    Many blessings Carrie!

  5. It is great to know the foreign mums talking about the earlier education to the little ones from 0-3, my little is a boy ,and he is going to be 12 month soon.

    I am a chinese mather, here only Chengdu,Si Chuan has Waldorf School, but not for 0-3,it is for 3-6, and above ages.

    Thank you for sharing.

    Loves.

    Maggie

  6. Hello there!
    I loved your post, but still a bit frustrating. I am from Romania, my baby girl is 1 and I am a single mum. Most mums here in Romania need to go back to work when the child is 2. Still, we do have an advantage – the Waldorf education is financed by the state, so there aren’t fees to pay. The question is what can we do at for the little one? I was wondering to organise myself a private nursery for children between 1-3. What do you think? Can you give me some homework to research? Thank you!

    Love,
    Ruxandra

    • Hi Ruxandra,
      Try this back post: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2010/01/06/waldorf-in-the-home-with-the-one-and-two-year-old/
      The book I would recommend is this one: http://www.waldorfbooks.com/item_436.htm
      I would also see the back of the book “Beyond the Rainbow Bridge”, which has sample rhythms for a parent-child group or morning program.

      WECAN, the Waldorf Early Childhood Association of North America, may have a sister organization that works in Eastern Europe. You could check on their website as well.

      Lifeways Training of North America is a trained geared more toward caregiving for children in homes (ie, daycare) but could be helpful if something like is available your way. The Pikler Institute in Hungary also could be a helpful resource.
      Hope that helps, many blessings,
      Carrie

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