When parents walk into one of our Early Childhood classrooms for the first time, they often remark that it feels “the way kindergarten ought to feel.” There is a palpable sense of calm, beauty, and warmth. Often the aroma of baking bread fills the air, and the children are busily engaged in active play. Toys are simple and natural; the whole room feels at once alive and serene.
At AWS, our classrooms are homelike, with a predictable daily rhythm, to allow children to feel secure. They are also designed to engage a child’s natural inclination toward imitation and activity. The young child learns through doing, and therefore opportunities for meaningful work abound: preparing vegetables for soup, gardening, woodworking -- all kinds of activities that enliven the imagination and strengthen the body. The teacher strives to bring forth these activities in a kind, loving, noble manner, worthy of imitation.
Children see their work in school as play, fostering wonder and possibility, thus strengthening them from within in a lasting way and building the foundation for future academic success. The day’s activities are rich with watercolor painting, beeswax modeling, songs, fairy tales, puppet plays, and story time: all enjoyable activities that also happen to develop small motor skills, cultivate listening, concentration and language skills, and teach children how to cooperate in a group.
Our students go outside every day, in every kind of weather, to play and romp and sled and skip. This outdoor time is precious, and has always been part of the Waldorf curriculum. We believe - and science now confirms - that free play, in rain or shine, is essential to good health and balanced brain development. However, it also connects children deeply to the world in which they live, helping them become not only better students but also more responsible global stewards.