The greatest scientists are artists as well. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination circles the world. –Albert Einstein
Preserving the Sense of Wonder
Direct experience, beautiful surroundings, oral storytelling, puppetry and the natural world inspire children’s interests. A sense of wonder drives curiosity and leads to enthusiasm for learning.
Encouraging Creativity and Imagination
Simple toys allow children’s imaginations to flourish. Playing with open-ended toys such as colored silks, wooden blocks, simple dolls and natural materials, such as pine cones and shells, develops creativity. Children can pretend to be whatever their hearts desire. The ability to imagine is the foundation for the later understanding of abstract concepts.
Developing Health and Vitality
Children are by nature beings of will and movement. Games and physical movement develop physical coordination. Children play outside every day; they run, jump dig and swing. Time spent in natural surroundings instills a sense of peace and of being at one with the world. The natural world is essential to the emotional health of children and to their sense of connection to the wider human community.
Strengthening the Will
Rhythm permeates the classroom – the rhythms of the day, the week and the seasons. These rhythms give children a sense of security that allows them to thrive and helps them develop the faculties that will become persistence, drive and follow-through in adult life.
Building Foundations for Success
The teacher tells a fairy tale in the oral tradition, which helps children develop their concentration. Total absorption in their play world is another way children develop their attention spans.
Learning Social Skills
Children who play together, with the guidance of the teacher, learn how to share, to agree, to negotiate and to cooperate. This understanding is essential for the formation of positive human relationships.
Protecting From Premature Academic Pressure
A developmental program protects and values childhood. It aims to keep youthful vitality alive and promotes slow, quality learning. The classroom provides an opportunity for children to learn naturally through storytelling, finger play, nursery rhymes, movement and the best teacher of all – play. The homelike environment of the Waldorf classroom nurtures children and carefully protects them from the experience of having failed before they were ever ready to start formal schooling.
The Waldorf system differs from other conventional and independent systems of education, not so much in terms of content, but very much in terms of the timing and sequence for the introduction of subject matter. We intentionally wait for formal introduction of writing, reading and written arithmetic until the early elementary grades.