Early Childhood Curriculum
There is magic in everyday moments and we believe in a curriculum that allows the child to experience the magic and wonder of the world around them. In the first seven years, a child learns about the world through movement and play. The five senses are awakening — every sight, sound, and taste is an experience to explore and learn. A child at play is full of vitality, imagination, and curiosity.
At Waldorf School of Pittsburgh, there are four Early Childhood programs, or stepping stones, for children within specific age ranges. Each program builds upon the previous step as the child matures through the first seven years of life on his or her path toward the grade school years.
Experience and Engagement
The Early Childhood programs help to support the developmental needs of the young child by creating a beautiful, nurturing environment where the young child can safely explore and create. In all that we do, we seek to allow the young child to live into the moment, whether that be playing outdoors, gathering acorns, kneading bread dough, or singing during circle.
Watercolor painting allows the child to learn about color by experiencing the quality of each color, how it darkens or lightens with more or less paint, and how two colors come together to make a new color. Our focus is on the child’s experience of their own painting and the color in front of them rather than the end result.
The classroom is a delight to the senses. The walls are lazured in comforting pinks and peaches, a beautiful nature table displays special, seasonal gifts of nature, and natural light illuminates the room. Indoor play is an opportunity to work through conflict naturally — to work together to decide what to play, how to work together and share toys, and in the end how to create something amazing.
Our kindergarten classes are pre-academic because we believe that at this age the brain develops through movement. As such, children do not sit in desks until first grade. They play inside and outside each day, help prepare snack, and work on sewing projects. Children also participate in circle time, which often reflects the seasons and blends movement, song, and verse.
These activities help the children to gain confidence in using their bodies and their hands. Their fine motor skills are developed through finger plays, sewing, chopping and peeling vegetables, coloring, and beeswax modeling. The movements during circle and time spent outdoors help the child’s gross motor movements to develop. Through the magic of story and song, the child follows the teacher in skipping, hopping, crawling, and balancing movements.
A child at play is full of vitality, imagination, and curiosity. Play is truly the work of the young child, and the creativity and skill involved in free play are an essential foundation of intellectual thinking. Play materials in the classroom are all simple and made of natural materials, such as logs, stones, seashells, pine cones, and silk fabrics.
Weekly open-ended artistic activities include watercolor painting, coloring, and beeswax modeling. Children are given the opportunity to engage their imagination as they experience the color and texture of these artistic elements.
During a daily story time, the children sit in a circle, a candle is lit, and the teacher tells (rather than reads) a fairy tale or folk tale, or puts on a simple puppet play. Children hear the same story throughout the week, which aids in developing memory. In this manner, the future activity of learning to read is grounded in a rich field of oral learning and meaning and a foundation for literacy is carefully laid.
Early Child Programs at Waldorf School of Pittsburgh
Waldorf School of Pittsburgh offers Early Childhood programs for children ages 18 months through 6 years. Each of these programs is designed to meet the subtle developmental needs of children of a particular age.