We get lots of questions about Waldorf from other home educating families and those who are curious about the approach.
To answer some of these questions, here’s our handy guide to Waldorf early childhood and kindergarten……
Find your Rhythm
This is the time to learn about rhythm. Take what already works for your family and build from there, but work to keep it simple, in Waldorf the early years and kindergarten are all about the rhythm of home. If you are coming to Waldorf late then also begin with rhythm, this is the foundation on which to build your Waldorf home ed.
So, for early childhood and for Kindy, the majority of the week should be spent at home, with lots of play. Children of this age love to imitate, and to be involved with simple aspects home care e.g simple dusting, washing up their cup or bowl and playing with the bubbles, helping to fold laundry etc, creating a weaving in and out of the daily aspects of home life.
Some books in which you can find a wealth of information for the early years, including more about rhythm are ‘Heaven on Earth’ and ‘You are Your child’s First Teacher’ these are well loved by many Waldorf families, us included!
Waldorf Essential have an excellent ebook called ‘Before the Journey’ which is available free as part of the Early Childhood and Kindergarten curriculum course
Playing and Exploring
Simple open ended toys are recommended, those made from natural materials being the ideal; things like wooden blocks and roundels for building, pine cones, shells and stiks, simple dolls and gnomes, knitted, felted or wooden animals, pots, pans and utensils and so on. Many of these natural objects can be gathered on nature walks and toys can be easily made at home for free or very cheaply.
Playsilks are an excellent investment because they can be incorporated in imaginative play in all sorts of ways, use them to create the basis for a playscape, for dressing up, for making dens……so many possibilities!
Typical ‘Waldorf toys’ can be pricey if you buy new, but the quality is amazing and they really are build to last. Also, there is no need to throw out every plastic or non Waldorf toy you own! Keep the things your children love and gradually work to add more of the natural options, we have been at this for years and we often have some plastic dinosaurs visiting the gnomes in their wooden houses. We buy bits now and again, and when friends and family ask for gift ideas we point them in that direction!
Stories, Songs, Verses and Fingerplays
Tell simple stories about your child’s daily life, or simple nature stories, and have some beautiful, seasonal picture books available. For picture book ideas to begin your collection there are many beautiful titles by Elsa Beskow, Jan Brett, Gerda Muller, and Daniela Drescher
Songs and simple finger play verses are also very important during this time, songs which guide the child through the day are especially useful, helping to keep things like tidying up time run more smoothly, sing as you tidy/dress to go outside etc and begin to do that task yourself so that they begin to imitate, it is far more appealing to them than repeated instructions and, once they get used to the idea, it gets the job done faster. it really doesn’t matter how you sound, your child will love your efforts anyway! Some great books packed with seasonal rhymes and verses are ‘The Singing Day’ and ‘The Singing Year’
We also love this seasonal collection offering a treasure trove of seasonal verses, songs and rhymes and stories.
Arts and Crafts
Weave in some simple art and seasonal crafts, we love these blocks, and sticks they produce such beautiful, deep colours and they smell amazing! These coloured pencils are ideal for little hands and are very sturdy.
The paints we use are from the same range. With the paints a little goes a very long way and you can store your ready mixed watercolours in small jars in the fridge. You need only buy the red, yellow and blue, play around with these colours to make more. Again, no instruction, just explore and have fun.
Another great activity for this age group is play dough which can be made very cheaply from basic kitchen ingredients, there are many recipes out there and you can add all sorts of colours and scents to your dough. Keep these activities simple and without instruction, allowing them to explore. When children get a bit older try modelling with beeswax, this takes a lot of work to warm up which is a great will building activity! Start it off for them if necessary by working it yourself to make it more malleable, or tell a story while the child warms the beeswax in their hands.
There are many festivals celebrated in Waldorf and not every family celebrates every festival. The key is to pick which ones speak to you and begin there, work to make it your own. There are many books available on Waldorf festivals, for inspiration try here
Lots of outdoor time is necessary too of course, so for this age group plenty of space to run, crawl, roll, climb, swing, slide etc. Spend time in your garden if you have one, or head to the local park, the woods, the swimming pool or the beach and let them burn off all of that energy. Get muddy, wet and sandy while discovering nature and explore the elements and the seasons while honing those important gross motor skills!
Kindergarten Curriculum ……
In Waldorf, academics do not begin until around age seven. Waldorf kindergarten is totally optional and offers a gentle rhythm of seasonal songs, verses and movement games, seasonal nature stories, and simple, nourishing crafts and activities such as baking, painting, drawing and modelling. This is also a great time to begin to understand and celebrate some or all of the Waldorf festivals.
There are many Waldorf kindy curriculum packages to choose from, we follow Waldorf Essentials Early Childhood and Kindergarten which is comprehensive Early Childhood and Kindergarten course, providing all you need for Kindy with children aged 4/5 years for K1 and 6 years for K2. We highly recommend it!
If you have any questions about this curriculum we are happy to answer and point you in the right direction.
If you want to learn more ……
For the ‘whys’ behind the ‘hows’of the Waldorf approach, Rhythms of Learning by Roberto Trostli is a must read. Written by an experienced Waldorf teacher this book includes a selection of Steiner’s key lectures presented in an accessible way and divided into easy to read chapters which explain how these concepts are translated throughout the Waldorf curriculum.
Hopefully this has been helpful, please do let us know if you are also following the Waldorf approach to home ed, share your tips and feel free to ask questions 🙂
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