Here are the answers to common questions as well as an illustration of our philosophy and our reasoning in choosing the principles of Waldorf education to inspire children. Please see our Reading List for so much more.
What is Waldorf?
Waldorf education is based on the philosophy of Rudolf Steiner. His pedagogy strives to develop children’s intellectual, practical, and artistic skills in an integrated and holistic way, schooling the Head, Hands, and Heart. “Waldorf education holds as its primary intention the ideal of bringing forth—in every child—his or her unique potential in a way that serves the further development of humanity.” (AWSNA).
In Early Childhood, Waldorf seeks to cultivate children’s imagination and creativity, founding a life-long love of learning. Childhood Development: Year by Year is a beautiful resource that illustrates how the Waldorf approach to early childhood meets children where they are developmentally.
Is a Waldorf Preschool right for my child?
Very good question! Listen to this podcast (40 mins long) from Your Parenting Mojo that addresses this very question beautifully.
Does Dragonfly Preschool follow a curriculum?
We have chosen the Waldorf education philosophy to guide our curriculum, which will also address the required Colorado Early Learning Development Guidelines for children ages 3-5 in a social and nature based setting. Using multidisciplinary teaching strategies, our curriculum provides opportunities to practice and apply developmentally appropriate skills with a strong emphasis on social and emotional health, fine and gross motor skills, language acquisition, problem solving skills, and artistic creativity. Ample research supports the belief that this is the best approach to establish a strong educational foundation for independent, capable, lifelong learners.
Our classroom learning environment will be carefully crafted to incorporate a calm rhythmical structure so children experience a daily balance of outdoor and indoor activity, structured and unstructured movement, social and independent activities and the security to develop social, emotional, and cognitive skills each day.
The rich, multifaceted experience of our preschool curriculum will be delivered with consistency and depth. Literacy, mathematics, science, and social studies skills and knowledge will be introduced in authentic, experiential ways as children listen to and engage in daily storytelling, songs, imaginative play, nature exploration, gardening, food preparation, and other practical life skills. Activities such as dance, painting, beeswax modeling, and crafts will develop creative thinking, artistic expression, and advanced motor skills. Teachers will purposefully support the children as they play, explore, and practice meaningful tasks as a group, to shape social emotional intelligence and build empathy, respect and social cohesion. Fine and gross motor skills will be developed with the independent use of a variety of materials and applied in settings that require control and focus or allow space for larger movement. Planned field trips to local farms, the nature center, and the library will provide the opportunity for children to engage in their community as well as bring additional inspiration and relevance to their learning. Above all, teachers will establish a warm and nurturing connection to each child, modeling a reverence for learning, nature, and life.
This insightful article on the True Purpose of Preschool further illustrates our curriculum approach.
How does a curriculum inspired by Waldorf principles affect my child’s academic learning process? Will they be prepared for public school at the grade level?
We believe we are creating a strong foundation for future learning, starting slower with academics, and teaching in a holistic way. Our school’s greatest purpose is to inspire a love of learning, so that children delve into questions with a genuine curiosity that persists throughout their life. So when they graduate from our school into the grades, and are presented with having to master the alphabet, learn more numbers, and read bigger texts, children dive into the task with a zest and enthusiasm for learning.
Additionally, how parents support their child’s reading skills at home will greatly influence their child’s ability to read before entering a traditional primary school setting. Graduates of the Dragonfly Preschool will be alongside their peers in every way, often they will be more advanced in speech, language, and artistic activities due to the overall diversity of experiences in a Waldorf-inspired classroom setting.
Does Dragonfly Preschool use assessment tools?
Teachers will use established comprehensive checklists of developmental skills and activities introduced in the classroom to observe and record each child’s progress. This observational data and other anecdotal records will be used to create progress reports and hold parent teacher conferences throughout the school year. Individual child portfolios, which will include recorded data, parent communication, and samples of the child’s work, will be referenced year to year.
How many children in a class?
Our licensed maximum is 15 children. We intend to have more like 12 children at any given time.
Does the Preschool offer parent education and involvement?
An essential aspect of our curriculum and philosophy will be to offer parent education that will include basics of our Waldorf principles and how to support healthy child development and academic growth at home. There will be family events and celebrations held throughout the school year with the intention of building a community that works in partnership to reach our common goals for our students. As children transition out of our preschool and into the Kindergarten setting, teachers will work with those parents to help prepare their child with their next steps in education. Ultimately, our vision is to expand our preschool to include a Kindergarten classroom, also based in Waldorf principles.
Why is outdoor play and experiences in nature such an important part of Waldorf education, and what benefit will it give my child?
Time outside is about showing children the natural rhythms of life and revealing our kinship with all living things. Young children are connected to all things, people, animals, and nature in a deep and unique way. Our teachers do not try to prematurely bring a child out of this magical world and into greater awareness, but instead work with this consciousness to nurture a reverence and interest for nature, that will stay with them through their life. Our curriculum builds in ample outside time, in all weather.
Please see the Waldorf School of Philadelphia’s article on Waldorf Education and the Nature Connection for more.
Why do Waldorf schools recommend limiting television, videos, and all screen time for young children?
Our preschool policy is zero screen time. Children will not be exposed to screens at any point in the preschool day, and we ask that they do not bring technology to school.
Why? Waldorf teachers are concerned that electronic media hampers the development of the child's imagination. They are concerned about the physical effects of the medium on the developing child as well as the content of much of the programming. There is more and more research that screen time contributes to shorter attention spans, childhood obesity, and more social/behavioral issues.
Here’s an article from the NY Times that went viral, about Silicon Valley parents preferring to send their children to Waldorf schools which fundamentally prohibit technology in the classroom.
Are Waldorf Schools Religious? Is the Dragonfly Preschool religious?
From the Association of Waldorf Schools of North America: “Waldorf schools are non-sectarian and non-denominational. They educate all children, regardless of their cultural or religious backgrounds. Waldorf schools espouse no particular religious doctrine but are based on a belief that there is a spiritual dimension to the human being and to all of life. Waldorf families come from a broad spectrum of religious traditions and interest.” Our teacher may tell stories or fairy tales with angels in them, but they do not refer to any religion.
What is the difference between Waldorf and Montessori?
These two educational approaches began with a similar goal: to design a curriculum that was developmentally appropriate to the child and that addressed the child's need to learn in a tactile as well as an intellectual way. The philosophies are otherwise very different. For more information, please see here.
What’s next? Will there be a Kindergarten?
Our dream is to expand the preschool to eventually include separate Kindergarten classrooms, and then who knows? Maybe we keep on going into the grades? A beautiful and a bit far-off dream.