Nursery & Kindergarten

Mountain Laurel Waldorf School, New Paltz, New YorkYoung children are filled with joy and enthusiasm. Participating wholeheartedly in everything around them, they learn naturally through imitation and imagination. Our kindergarten — loving, warm, and secure — reflects this view of children. In it, a small child can make a gentle transition from life at home to the coming grade school years.

The Waldorf nursery and kindergarten teachers support the children’s growth by working in meaningful activities — such as baking bread, gardening, sewing, and painting — that the children can readily imitate. The teachers nurture the children’s imagination by telling stories, singing, and encouraging free play.

The day has a rhythmical structure, beginning with a long period for free play. Toys are simple and made from natural materials: a bent stick becomes a bow; a length of fabric becomes a royal cape; a handmade gnome explores a castle carved from a hollow log. After playtime is circle time, with songs, verses, finger plays, and circle games. Then the children have a snack, followed by healthy outdoor play. The morning ends inside with a simple story or verse.

Children quickly come to know the rhythm of the week as well: Monday may be for sewing; Tuesday, eurythmy (movement); Wednesday, beeswax modeling; Thursday, painting; Friday, cleaning. Seasonal activities — planting bulbs, gathering berries, or tending a vegetable garden — help the children experience nature and the cycles of the year.

All these activities create a solid foundation for the elementary school years. Counting games, for example, are the first steps toward arithmetic. Shared chores such as setting the table or sweeping the floor support the children’s desire to become both self-sufficient and cooperative. Singing songs and reciting or listening to stories, verses, and rhymes aid in language development and comprehension. And artistic activities such as painting and drawing lead to creative thinking. The rich curriculum nourishes every aspect of the children: body, mind, emotions, and spirit.