early childhood

Is Waldorf "hygge?"

You've probably heard about the Danish concept of hygge. You can read about it here and here (and, it seems, everywhere). We recently came across the hashtag #hyggeschooling and that made us think about how especially in Early Childhood, Waldorf embodies hygge.  

The social atmosphere and the simplicity of the classroom, the aesthetic pleasure of the scents and sights and sounds, the tea and cozy slippers and wooly layers: Waldorf children get the best of hygge from the early years. (And then they go on to knit their own socks and go on camping trips...but that's for another post.)

This is not by accident. The founder of Waldorf Education, Rudolf Steiner, wrote and spoke about the importance of protecting and nourishing the developing child's senses. He articulated 12 senses and said, "Everything we have in us, even everything we experience in our soul, is related to the outer world through our twelve senses. These are the senses of touch, life, movement, balance, smell, taste, sight, warmth, hearing, speech, thinking, and the sense of the I." His work on this topic is outlined in The Care and Development of the Human Senses.

If you are curious to know more, join us on December 9 for Celebrate the Seasons with a Waldorf Teacher or come by any Monday for Tea & Play for 1pm. (Both events are open to families with children ages 2-6.) Register with our Early Childhood Admissions Coordinator at 845.356.2514 x326.

Photo of a felted acorn in the Nursery classroom by Nursery Teacher Rebecca Ruof.

Photo of a felted acorn in the Nursery classroom by Nursery Teacher Rebecca Ruof.

Play is essential for young children

This article from last year in The Atlantic sheds light on one of the many reasons that play is essential for young children. The author, pediatric occupational therapist Angela Hanscom, notes:

"Like many other American parents, I had an obsession: academic success for my child. Only, I was going about it completely wrong. Yes, my daughter would later go on to test above average with her academic skills, but she was missing important life skills. Skills that should have been in place and nurtured during the preschool years. My wake-up call was when the preschool teacher came up to me and said, “Your daughter is doing well academically. In fact, I’d say she exceeds expectations in these areas. But she is having trouble with basic social skills like sharing and taking turns.” Not only that, but my daughter was also having trouble controlling her emotions, developed anxiety and sensory issues, and had trouble simply playing by herself!

Little did I know at the time, but my daughter was far from being the only one struggling with social and sensory issues at such a young age. This was becoming a growing epidemic. A few years ago, I interviewed a highly respected director of a progressive preschool. She had been teaching preschoolers for about 40 years and had seen major changes in the social and physical development of children in the past few generations."

At the heart of Green Meadow's Early Childhood program is our understanding that self-initiated play is critical to healthy development. As soon as children learn something new, they start to play with their new capacities, practicing and testing their skills until they tackle more and more difficult tasks. Therefore, ample time for creative play is part of each morning.  

Open-ended toys made from natural materials, like silk scarves, knitted wool puppets, wooden blocks, and acorns collected from nature walks, nourish the child’s developing senses. With these natural items, children may flex their creative muscles and imaginative capacities, and further develop their emerging fine motor skills.  In addition, involving moveable structures that they can explore in environments that invite movement helps to develop gross motor coordination. We believe that creative play is the child’s most important developmental tool, whether to discover new skills, work with experiences, or express emotions.

Our children benefit from a rich variety of outdoor play spaces.  In addition to our beautiful playground, they experience the natural wonders of the forest, field, farm, garden, pond, and woodland stream, all within walking distance of our classrooms.

Rain or shine, ample opportunities exist for developing strong, healthy bodies.  Depending on the time of year, children sled down snowy hills, climb rocks in the Rocky Dell, and balance on fallen trees in the Fairy Woods. Munching on autumn apples in the orchard or tasting a maple tree’s sweet water in late winter can foster a lifelong respect for the earth and a deep appreciation for nature’s bounty.

Read the rest of The Atlantic article.

Come to Morning in the Nursery/Kindergarten on March 4.