Developed in 1919, Waldorf Education is based on the understanding of human development that addresses the needs of the growing child. During the first seven years of development, children learn primarily through imitation. During the period up to age six or seven, young children mimic everything in the environment uncritically – not only the sounds of speech, gestures of people, but also the attitudes and values of parents and peers.
Waldorf strategies in early years of education focus on providing practical, hands-on activities and environments that encourage creative play. Waldorf preschools and kindergartens cultivate and work in support of the children’s deep, inborn natural attitude, belief, and trust in the world as an interesting and good place to live in. The educational philosophy’s overarching goal is to develop free, morally responsible, and integrated individuals equipped with a high degree of social competence.
Here are ways that our Little Ripples program has adapted Waldorf strategies into our classrooms:
- The school day begins with the main lesson, which is typically taught in a four-week long block that immerses the student in a particular subject. Circle time is a common feature in many Waldorf classrooms and will also start and end each Little Ripples day. During this time, teachers will lead the class through various songs and learning activities to emphasize a lesson (such as the days of the week, numbers 1-5, or specific colors). Our team of Little Ripples Expert Teacher Advisors has talked about creating a framework of lessons for Little Ripples teachers to step through. However, the final curriculum will be eventually created by the Little Ripples teachers who have the ultimate say in what lessons are most culturally relevant to the Darfuri refugee population.
- Teachers engage in domestic, practical, and artistic activities that the children can readily imitate. Beyond circle time, there will be small group sessions, including dramatic play and outside free play. Little Ripples teachers will be trained and create activities that will encourage learning for children through various creative avenues including storytelling, acting, and drawing. Little Ripples teachers will be using an “I do, we do” teaching strategy in which the teacher first models the activity then asks students to join along.
- The Waldorf method emphasizes the whole child, seeking to cultivate positive human values and social conscience as well as developing cognitive, artistic, and practical skills. A huge emphasis of the Little Ripples program will be creating an environment in which children can develop a strong foundation of compassion. On this next trip, i-ACT 17, teacher training will include how to start each Little Ripples day with a peaceful mind, sharing heart, and helping hands. Students will be reminded how they can incorporate these aspects into their activities throughout the day.
Do you have any experience with Waldorf programs? I’d love to hear what drew you to this particular approach to education….Please comment here directly or email me at Jennifer@iactivism.org.
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