Summer Planning: Waldorf and the Early Years

For those of you doing “summer planning” and are feeling stressed out by planning for the Waldorf  Homeschooling Kindergarten for the 4, 5 and 6  year old year, I have a few words for you all. (And PS, I am not sure you have to do too much “special planning” for the four year old except for a daily time of lighting a candle and telling the same story for a month in addition to your rhythm – most mothers of four-year-olds are still working hard on their rhythms and that is the most vital piece!)

Foremost in your mind as you plan, even for the “big” six-year-old, keep in mind the hallmarks of Waldorf Education for these ages:

1.  Imitation, not words.  Show, help gently but don’t so much direct with your words.  Use your words for singing, for verses for transitions, for

2. A steady Rhythm of work at home, outside time, play and SLEEP and REST. Sleep and rest come up time and time again in Waldorf Education throughout all the grades, this is a very important piece to work with in the 4,5, and 6 year old who is no longer napping!

3. Warmth – yes, bodily warmth and soul warmth.

4.  Protection of all 12 Senses – the small child has no FILTER.   This is why the small child does not need “field trips” to stimulating places, and needs repetition and warmth and being at home.

5. Movement – a child under the age of 7 communicates in a PHYSICAL way, in the PHYSICAL realm!

6.  Enlivening the imagination through singing, verses, fingerplays, stories

7. Setting boundaries – where are you struggling in creating your peaceful home life and what boundaries do you need to set in a LOVING, WARM, and gentle way?  Somehow people seem to think these two things are exclusive and separate from each other, but they are not! You can do this because you are the parent, and you have this tiny 4,5, or 6 year old!

8.  Your meditative work:  The World is Good Place.  And if you cannot really think this in your thoughts, than that is your own personal work.  Goodness, truth and beauty go through all the years of Waldorf Education.

It is not that Waldorf educators do not believe that a child COULD learn whatever they want to learn or ask to learn, but that it is HARMFUL for the future stages of their growth to do so.   Steiner had a very high opinion of children and thought they were extremely smart, that they were the teachers of us in many regards!  However, if your child asks to stay up all night, or eat chocolate cake for every single meal for a week, chances are you will say no.  In this regard, Waldorf education takes the health of the child as paramount importance. 

The 4,5, and 6 year old child is NOT a miniature adult that needs “filling up” and just lacks experience!  The 4,5, and 6 year old child requires an entirely different way of being dealt with by adults. This is where Waldorf is  so successful and so many of the “talk your child with logical reasoning when they are not logical” and “fill up their heads with factoids” leads to children who are completely burned out by age 8 or 9 with academics, and children who are old before their time.  I have seen it time and time again! 

Required summer reading for you if you have children in this age range:

Steiner’s “Kingdom of Childhood” and   “Education of the Child” and

Rahima Baldwin Dancy’s “You Are Your Child’s First Teacher”

If you get really ambitious try “Waldorf Education: A Family Guide” and reassure yourself that the pink bubble of Waldorf Kindergarten does not last forever, but does indeed serve an essential place.

More about summer planning for the five and six year old soon,


12 thoughts on “Summer Planning: Waldorf and the Early Years

  1. What a great post – thanks I am learning SO much from your blog about Waldorf inspired parenting – its very practical and accessible. I would really be interested in your thoughts on the book “In A Nutshell’ – am looking at buying it but would mean shipping to new zealand so a bit of a hassle/expense!

  2. I am always torn at how much I should allow my child (who will be 4 in July) to experience…I can see at this age his excitement over seemingly simple things,,like painting rocks w/ water or building a blanket tent in the back yard or mimicking me cooking, cleaning orwriting dates on his “calendar” etc…yet I am drawn toward taking him to our local community events like the fireworks or parade or just to the park…I do see the benefit of limiting the outings, yet I am a stay at home mom and he goes with me to many places…

  3. Where do you find resources for verses? I have some books that have fingerplays and stories, and I learned one or two verses in french in a local parent/tot waldorf group, but I would love some kind of book with a cd so I could learn some verses and the melodies that go with them. How do you recommend learning verses?

    • Perhaps the first place to start would be all the fingerplay books at your local library. Can you read music? If so, I would recomend the Wynstones Press books. There is one for each season full of songs and verses. That would be one place to start….

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  7. Help: My son attends a waldorf school now. After a horrid experience In Kindergaten last year: great Kindergarten at private school but way too much for my son, who was adopted from an orphanage (good care but very scheduled, lots of imaginative free play time in huge play room, music classes, and free play outside, actually quite similar to a waldorf early education setting in many ways). No t.v., lots of poem memorization, etc… for first 6 years. They even taught English starting at age 4.5, so he knew 2 languages when brought him home.

    Anyway, he is thriving at Waldorf school and it is such a perfect fit for him. I’ve lately become obsessed with what to do over the summer so that all these great things he is learning aren’t shelfed for several months: Russian, Spanish, memory work (boy he can retell stories amazingly well), etc… For the 7 year old, not reading, who will be home with Grandma (who doesn’t drive), do you just let him play (on his own free play he tends to ‘noodle’ around, setting up scenes with cars and people and hospital playmobil or do things like dig holes or stack sticks and rocks for whatever reason: “I’m going to do yard work”—but all he does is make a pile of rocks with a stick in it (for 2 hours) saying he ‘planted a tree’: sorry got long..

    So, what to do with 7 year old over summer, who attends a Waldorf School? Should I try to have him do any work over the summer (and how to disguise it as not work)? I’m worried he’ll lose so much.

  8. Pingback: Waldorf Summer Round-Up | Happy Hedgehog Post

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