A Child's Garden of Thyme

What is Waldorf Early Childhood Education?

The following information can be found in more detail in an article by Susan Howard, WECAN Coordinator.

What makes a Waldorf program "Waldorf," the answers might be sought less in the particular activities or rhythms or materials and furnishings, and more in the extent to which these outer aspects are harmonious expressions of inner qualities, attitudes, capacities, and intentions of the teacher — all of which can have a health-giving effect on the children, both in the moment and for the rest of their lives. Those of us who are committed to this path of Waldorf early childhood education, whether as early childhood teachers or mentors, may actively ask ourselves how qualities essential to the healthy development of young children are living in our own early childhood groups, in our own daily lives, and in our own inner practice. Rudolf Steiner spoke on a number of occasions about experiences essential for healthy early childhood education, including the following:

A Child's Garden of Thyme Curriculum

A Child's Garden of Thyme draws from the indications of Rudolf Steiner/Waldorf education. ACGT is also inspired by the LifeWays approach to childcare, as well as modern formulations such as The Irreducible Needs of Children by Brazelton and Greenspan, which emphasize nurturing the child’s sense of trust and well-being through having the same caregivers throughout the early years. Relationship-based care that takes family life as its model complements your home life and provides an environment in which your child will flourish.

Our program at ACGT recognizes that human relationship and activity are the essential tools for all foundational skills for life. In infancy and early childhood, daily life experience is the “curriculum” through which your child experiences healthy life rhythms and routines. Beauty, comfort, security, and connection to the living world of nature form the basis for the “Living Arts:”

Along with vigorous, healthy play and sensory stimulation, these are the kinds of things that provide the nerve activity needed for higher learning—language development, dexterity, math skills, social skills, and creative thinking—skills that are in very high demand today. According to an article on brain development in a special edition of Newsweek, “…short of being raised in isolation, a baby will encounter enough stimulation in most households to do the trick - anything from banging pots and pans together to speaking to a sibling. The key phrase here is ‘properly stimulated, which is not the same as expensively stimulated or the worse fate, over stimulated” (Rosenberg and Reibstein, Newsweek, Spring/Summer 1997).

Professor Barry Sanders defines “orality” as the rich use of language conveyed through the nursery rhymes, songs, finger plays and circle games that have informed infancy and early childhood life throughout all time. Such a foundation of rich oral language not only helps to assure successful reading, but also helps a child’s ability to develop a sense of self as an antidote to later violent behavior (A is for Ox: Violence, Electronic Media and the Silencing of the Written Word).

As children enter the final phase of early childhood, their natural interest in numbers and letters often arises spontaneously, at which time their caregivers encourage their interest and enthusiasm without direct instruction. A Child's Garden of Thyme recognizes childhood as a valid and authentic time unto itself and not just a preparation for schooling.