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Waldorf Education Approach For Early Childhood

712 words - 3 pages

Walking into a Waldorf classroom one might notice a sense of calm, the smell of bread baking, or feel like they've walked into a room of their home. There are plants in the corners and windows; soft silks in earth-tones tastefully decorate the tabletops and hang from the ceiling upon tree branches. Songs float on the air, transcending the space between classes. Wicker baskets filled with basic wooden toys line the walls and shelves. One might also notice candles on the table, baskets full of beeswax, and instruments around the classroom (Schmitt-Stegmann, 1997). While taking in the architectural beauty of the class, one might fail to realize that there are very few elements of a standard learning environment surrounding them (Follari, 2011).
The Waldorf approach to teaching involves a consideration for the spiritual self of the child and uses the arts to foster a deep connection to the world as well as its inhabitants. Social competence is a focus of the early childhood program in Waldorf schools. Oppenheimer (1999) remarks, Waldorf teachers believe that “in every child we can witness the unfolding of a miracle.” While other early childhood classrooms are print-rich and have a heavy focus on literacy, the Waldorf early childhood classroom is intentionally designed to delay the intellectuality of children by maintaining a dreamlike atmosphere (Schmitt-Stegmann, 1997). Using oral stories about faeries and songs with puppets wherever possible (Oppenheimer, 1999), it's obvious that Waldorf classrooms are drastically different from standard learning environments. With such wide variations between the curricular approaches, it bares considering the origin of Waldorf education.
Rudolf Steiner, a highly spiritual Austrian philosopher, is the developer of the Waldorf curriculum as well as a spiritual science known as Anthroposophy (human wisdom). Anthroposophy is a movement described as the knowledge and awareness of humanity, with a belief that there is a spiritual world (Follari, 2011). Based on his lifelong work with Anthroposophy, Steiner developed an educational curriculum which reflected his beliefs about human spirituality. His curriculum centered around three beliefs: Children grown through three distinct developmental stages; the highest pursuit of education should be to develop the whole child to become a free and creative thinking capable of self-actualization; and that...

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