Our 6 year old son started “Kindergarten” - the Waldorf School’s mixed age (3-6 yrs) early childhood education program - a year ago. The school had just moved to its beautiful new campus. The kindergarten classrooms are in a brand new, light-flooded building surrounded by a garden with fruit trees. They are – Waldorf style – cozy little homes with seating, play, work, and dining areas and full-size kitchens, where the children prepare their snacks together. Two loving teachers accompany our son’s class through their daily cycle of inside and outside play (>90 min, rain or shine), artwork, singing, meal preparation, etc. Where most schools have moved traditional first grade academics up to kindergarten, here the focus is almost exclusively on laying a solid foundation for successful academic learning. We see how our son’s teachers work systematically on developing his fine (e.g. knitting, artwork) and gross motor skills (e.g. outside play, expressive dance), his resilience (e.g. playing in the rain or cold (with appropriate clothing)), social behavior (e.g. team work during meal preparation), his ability to self-regulate and to focus (short quiet, no-distraction periods throughout the day). The development of academic skills is woven into the daily rhythm; the children don’t even notice this is happening. They sing songs and recite poems during almost all activities, thus developing a spoken vocabulary that is astounding. Skills fundamental to learning math, such as problem solving, are being practiced playfully. Recently, we moved our 8 year old daughter to the school as well. She is having a smooth transition into a warm and welcoming 3rd grade. When we asked what the most noticeable difference between her old class (in a private Catholic school) and her new class was, she said it was how much faster her new classmates calm down when the teacher asks them to and how quiet they remain when they work on their assignments. I believe this is a reflection of the school's unique focus on creating a strong foundation for good learning skills in kindergarten rather than teaching reading, writing and math. Most certainly it is also a consequence of balancing highly focused learning and working periods by plenty of free playtime, outside recess, games, music and arts. We look forward to the wonderful childhood years our children will have in the Waldorf School.
The leadership team is new, a work in progress. They work long hard hours to create and amazing experience. The Executive Director is present and warm, strongly leading a team of professionals in a small community.