As part of my Saratoga Area Preschool Series for 2015, today we are focusing on The Waldorf School of Saratoga Springs, one of the sponsors of the Saratoga Springs Area Preschool Fair, taking place today (Saturday, January 24th) from 10am to noon at the Saratoga Springs Public Library. I spoke with Anne Maguire from Waldorf School of Saratoga Springs about what makes Waldorf special. Mamatoga: What are some of the key ideas about the Waldorf approach to teaching children?
Anne Maguire: Waldorf education is based on the work of Rudolf Steiner, an Austrian philosopher, educator, and scientist. The curriculum was designed to foster engaged learning and healthy development of the whole child. For young children, a learning environment is created that supports a child’s natural curiosity, imagination, and desire to imitate. When children relate what they learn to their own experience, the learning becomes their own. Beginning with the preschool classes and following on through the high school years, the Waldorf curriculum is based on the idea that meeting children and young adults where they are developmentally supports academics and artistic accomplishment and inspires in students a life-long love of learning.
M: What can people expect to find in your classrooms?
AM: Our classrooms for young children are designed to be simple and welcoming. Colors are soft and nurturing and areas for play have been created with simple, natural toys, crowns and capes for dress up, and a “child-sized” table for sharing the daily nutritious snack that is provided. Homemade soup, freshly baked bread, grains, and organic fruit are regular staples during snack time. The intention behind this simple classroom design is to foster an environment in which the child’s own imagination and natural curiosity will guide their play. An abundance of research today supports the idea that healthy brain development in children is fostered through imaginative play.
In addition to our Early Childhood Center location which offers programs for children from age 1 to 6, we are also proud to offer our Forest Kindergarten location which offers the unique opportunity for redefining what a classroom can be! While students are able to enjoy the comfort and shelter of a lovely farmhouse, the majority of the learning experience for students is created outdoors where nature has provided a rich classroom. This year, we expanded our programs at the Forest Kindergarten to include a Preschool class for 2 and 3 year olds. The class is fully enrolled as we bring the wonder of outdoor learning to our youngest students. We are often asked how we manage the cold weather or for that matter, warm weather, bugs, etc. and the answer is that as long as children are clothed properly, they love to go outside! Our teachers in all programs take great care to make sure all students can safely enjoy outside time.
AM: Waldorf education incorporates the belief that all children benefit from a predictable daily rhythm both in their home life and their school life. In our preschool and kindergarten programs, each day has a consistent schedule that includes practical and artistic activities that nourish a child’s developing senses. Daily activities may include: story and circle time, creative play in the classroom to foster the imagination, outside play to strengthen gross motor capacities, and preparing and eating a healthy snack together. Artistic activities may include drawing, watercolor painting, sewing, stories, and songs and verses.
M: If you could tell readers one thing about the Waldorf approach and Waldorf School of Saratoga what would you want them to know?
AM: The WSSS offers an alternative to test driven, result oriented education and focuses instead on the development of the whole child.
Find Waldorf School of Saratoga and many more local schools at the Fair today, thank you to Anne for giving us a peak inside your school!