Intro to Waldorf-Inspired Kindergarten
Kindergarten in Waldorf schools is all about creating the rhythms, environment, and relationships that nurture children in their development. It's about trusting that children become grounded over time and that they are unfolding at the right pace. It's about supporting that unfolding, that coming into personhood, with an attitude of respect, love, and wonder. The maturation of a human being takes a long, long time, and Waldorf education is unique in the way that it nurtures this slow developmental path without trying to rush it, skip it, or change it. Kindergarten in a Waldorf school is essentially an attempt to recreate a healthy home life, something that of course can be done beautifully at home by homeschooling!
This is a huge contrast to many contemporary kindergartens, which have the goal of training children for school life (standing in line, sitting quietly, etc.) and jump-starting their academic learning. From a Waldorf perspective, starting academics earlier and faster does nothing to boost learning in the long run, but it does cause stress because it goes against the grain of what children are actually needing at this age. In a Waldorf kindergarten, children spend most of the day moving their bodies and engaging their senses. They learn through play, exploration, movement, and relationship. When they enter first grade, these things will continue to be important and to be supported at school. But all that time spent learning with their entire bodies in the first seven years of life will have laid a strong foundation for learning to write, read, and think mathematically.
So homeschooling kindergarten with Waldorf-inspired methods means that children have the time and space they need to grow for awhile before they are asked to do seat work. It means that their need for play is respected and that a peaceful family life is prioritized. It means that parents create the rhythms, environment, and relationships that nurture their children as they take the slow and beautiful path of early childhood.