We started Sydney in a weekend program at our local Waldorf School last Saturday. It only goes til Mid-November — I wish it went longer. For those of you not familiar with Waldorf education their learning approach emphasizes the role of the imagination, developing thinking that includes a creative as well as an analytic component.
I wanted to try it out — thinking we may use this school as an early Kindergarten option for Sydney since the current track she is on she would have to repeat a year of preschool before enrolling into Kindergarten at our local elementary school. I like their philosophy, and approach. I think nurturing of creativity and imagination are sorely lacking in American educational constructs and what a better place to get exposed to this than in the wee early years of life.
The school is beautiful. In a indescribable fairy tale like location in the middle of a city tucked behind trees and nature. Everything is natural, and child sized. The room is safe, womb like, airy and full of light. Adults are instructed to sit on the periphery (no standing) and let their children explore. Some adults help with snack preparation or finger knit or chat softly to stay busy. I’m not allowed to go show Syd the babies, balls or the cars…she needs to discover them for herself. Each child always comes back to parent to ‘check-in’…show thier find, get a hug, or a touch. After play, we share a snack, and then sing and then go outside to play.
Syd seems to thrive in this environment. It’s been fun to watch her explore and see her sort-of interact with other 7 kids (not really at the age where they do much of this). Amazingly there have been no sharing conflicts yet between the children, maybe they are just getting to know each other and being polite? Each child is different…you never really get to see this much as a parent since you only have yours to pull from and maybe friends with kids. There are the quiet observers, the ones who never leave their parents lap (two of the boys are like this…they baffle me…they literally sit in their parents lap the entire time! I think this is what you call an ‘easy kid?’ What a dream!), and then there are a few more spirited children. One boy is very rambunctious, his parents must have focused on throwing as an important early developmental skill because he throws everything…and he throws it AT people. This Saturday we had to confiscate all the hard items and hide them for our own protection. He is non-stop…and loud…and not a good walker…very clumsy. It’s funny how different they all are. Sydney is probably the most independent of them all. She likes to go get all the baby dolls and bring them to me. She doesn’t sit in my lap much, but doesn’t run around screaming either. She just wanders, observes, discovers…smiles! At snack time she washes her hands and waits patiently for the others to join the table…she doesn’t bang her bowl on the table or freak out in her chair. It’s been good for me to see her in this light.
Like most things, some of it I could do without…the singing of songs I don’t know the words to, the blessings, etc. Maybe they will get more normal with time as I become accustomed to it. At this point there is way more I like (natural, imagination, creativity, freedom) than I don’t like. All of the programs until age 3 are parent/child so this isn’t something we could sustain…unless it’s on the weekends… since we both work. It’s too expensive for it to be our primary form of day-care for the next 3+ years before she starts Kindergarten, but it’s definitely something I’ll consider for the year she turns 5 until she can enroll into Kindergarten…just so she can experience something different and tap into a part of herself that may otherwise not get stimulated.