In Waldorf education, the Kindergarten is seen from the perspective of the three phases of child development. Here is a quick look:
Today, we are experiencing the fourth industrial revolution and it is marked by technological breakthroughs in various fields like The Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, 3D printing and autonomous vehicles to name a few. Industries are evolving and growing beyond our comprehension and so are the jobs they are offering. If we don’t answer the call to embrace an alternate education style and instead continue to push our children to achieve the best grades we are only going to fail them as their teachers and parents.
We need to give them the wherewithal to be able to learn anything, to deal with life’s challenges and to become self-actualised adults who can do what they are meant to do and still be happy.
In Waldorf education the child is the curriculum and education a preparation for life. The child’s innate strengths are drawn out through various activities so they can flourish naturally. Children are led by curiosity, they love to draw pictures and listen to stories. They engage in all sorts of physical activity from climbing to Eurhythmy, bettering their coordination and balance. They are involved in the making of things from ground up instead of having it ready made like cooking, weaving, making coloured water for their pichkaris during Holi and lots more.
All these activities they are engaged in through the curriculum helps them stay in touch with who they are, enabling them to become well-adjusted individuals, who are connected to their inner selves. That ability will equip them to deal with life’s challenges better. Waldorf education educates from the inside out.
Rudolf Steiner, the founder of Waldorf education believed that we should continuously prepare children for the next stage in their lives. He has a threefold principle, which is the foundation of his approach to education. We as teachers and parents need to understand his principle that the threefold human being is the basis for child development. He separates childhood into three phases – early childhood (0-7 years), middle childhood (7-14 years) and adolescence (14-21 years). We also need to understand the difference levels of consciousness at each of these stages - will, feeling and thinking, in order to successfully interpret child development.
Its in early childhood (0-7 years) that children are a reservoir of will. The child in this phase is focused, attentive and that’s why its difficult to get them to listen. When they play they are completely oblivious to their surroundings, they forget who they are and where they are.
To be able to face the polarities in this modern world we live in, our children have to have a balanced emotional life. On the one hand they will need to be receptive and sensitive to new experiences and on the other hand they will need to be resilient and strong enough to endure any crisis that they might face. Art can teach our children to develop this deep feeling capacity. All children are artists. Waldorf education couldn’t stress more on learning through art. Art is a full brain activity, involving the right and left-brain for fine motor skills, sequential thinking, cognitive ability and artistic sensibility. The success of Waldorf students in later life as entrepreneurs, musicians, artists and professors bear testimony that all the drawing and painting will pay off in the boardroom someday.
Education can also occur through playful ideas and problems. Keeping it lively and curiosity kindling is what will develop dynamic thinkers. Waldorf education will give children the chance to be imaginative, out of the box, original thinkers who can do the work that needs to be done and ask the questions that need to be asked. Their multi sensory education will help rebuild the human connection, and regenerate an environment that is habitable for all, physically, socially and emotionally.