The Playroom • The space created for the young child is very important, as we believe that the room, in a Waldorf program, is the curriculum. We have artistically created a space, in two rooms of our house, in which young children can unfold their individualities—their gifts and uniqueness—and begin the long process of socialization. We have created a safe, aesthetically pleasing environment where everything has a place. Although anything and everything can be moved around during playtime, there is order and calmness created for the children when the room is set up with their play in mind.
The Nature Table • A focal point of the room is the nature table, or seasonal tableau. This is a shelf in the room where we bring something of the natural world inside—a reflection of what is happening in the life of Mother Nature. Characters, such as Prince Autumn, King Winter, Mrs. Thaw and Lady Spring are personified as felt puppets, and all come in their time with little creatures, stones, nuts, leaves and flowers to help the children learn about the natural world in a developmentally appropriate way.
The Cottage Garden, in all ways, seeks to nurture and protect children’s healthy development. We do this primarily, by providing nourishing organic meals and playthings and activities with a connection to the natural world. Indoors, they have cloths and handmade soft toys of wool, silk, and cotton, as well as wooden objects with different textures of smoothness and roughness. These playthings assist in the development of their sense of touch, in their learning about the different qualities inherent in those objects. As children also need opportunities to move—for fun as well as for the development of their large and small motor skills and their sense of balance, we provide them with a yard containing a sandbox and sand toys, a hill-slide, and logs for climbing up, jumping off or looking under.
Our philosophy and teaching methods are inspired by both the work of Rudolf Steiner, the founder of Waldorf Education, and by Hungarian pediatrician, Dr. Emmi Pickler and her colleague, Magda Gerber. Magda Gerber played a big role in bringing Dr. Pikler’s ideas to the English-speaking world through Resources for Infant Educarers (RIE), which she established in 1978, together with Tom Forrest, M.D.
For more information on Waldorf Education, Rudolf Steiner and his philosophy or Emmi Pickler and RIE, please see our Links page.
The following aspects are central to our program, so we will explain a bit of about what we mean by them: