"What can we do so that education can have a heart again?" Steiner, 1923
Our group draws on the educational practices advocated by Rudolf Steiner, which are based on his understanding of the natural and healthy developmental stages of the child. The first Waldorf school was founded by Steiner a century ago, and some of his ideas for education are more relevant today than ever.
A Steiner approach to the early years puts an emphasis on free, authentic, uninterrupted play in which the child becomes deeply involved. At our groups, the leaders will avoid interrupting or directing the child at play, and the transition from play time to the next activity is gradual and supported by song.
"Up to the change of teeth, the child is one big sense organ. This is what makes children receptive to everything that comes from their surroundings. It also causes them to recreate inwardly everything that is going on in their environment."
We consider it important for our children to experience the natural beauty of the woods and butterfly gardens. The environment that we create indoors is warm, pleasant and homely, heated by a wood-burner where the flames are visible. We provide wooden toys without glossy paint, where the quality and feel of the materials are evident; handmade cloth dolls with simple features, to stimulate the child's imagination; and domestic items, for the children to imitate the real tasks of their parent/care-giver through their play.
Our leaders conduct themselves in a calm, gentle manner that is worthy of imitation, and through their care, attention and kindness, express their love for each child. At mealtimes, the teacher washes each child's hands and sings to them by name, and lights a candle at the table, creating an atmosphere of gratitude.
"Instead of talking about how we should treat children, we should strive towards a knowledge of how we, as teachers, ought to conduct ourselves... what we really need is that we ourselves have our heart in our pedagogy."