A surrogate home environment..

 

Steiner education is so successful in supporting the emotional and social development of young children precisely because it provides a surrogate mother figure in a home-like environment. Two Steiner educators describe the welcome that awaits children at a typical Kindergarten. “Importantly there has to be the right mood in the place. The staff often meet in the morning to say a verse together before making their presence felt in the rooms before the first children appear…At first there may be a period of free play with small groups of children choosing..dolls..wooden blocks..or driving a bus made from an upturned chair. The adults are usually engaged in some task, perhaps preparing the dough if it is baking day. There is conversation and some of the children may prefer to be around the adults, as children traditionally have been, watching, “helping” while adults work, asking questions and so on. These informal moments are vital, not least in a world in which everyone is so busy.

The adults initiate the next phase by beginning to clear the things away and the children join in helping each tool or object find its place on the shelf on in basket. ..Children can learn to do quite complex practical tasks, even involving sharp or awkward tools ..if they see them regularly performed with love and care..Tidying up is an important task and it is done in such a way that it does not occur to the children that this is something which..is a tedious chore..the children gather for ring time during which traditional songs are sung, rhythmical verses are spoken and acted out.. Afterwards the children go to the toilet and wash their hands. Some of the older ones who are first back help lay and set the table with place-mats, cutlery and perhaps a vase of flowers. Bread is cut and everyone gathers to say a grace and sing some seasonal songs..some of the children help clear up while others go off to a second period of free play or another artistic or handicraft activity. Here the children follow by example and may paint or model as long as their interest lasts. This might be the time to go outdoors into the garden or sandpit..Once more everyone returns, coats ..are hung up, things are carefully put away and then all gather..in the “story corner”..Each day of the week has its own artistic or handicraft activity, such a baking day…In all these activities the children learn by example, finding their way into the experiences at their own pace. In this way the children learn to explore and be creative whilst acquiring a love of work. This manifests itself in an increasing mood of self –reliance and calm industriousness when the children are engaged..A strong and lively rhythm helps give the children a deep sense of security” Waldorf Education p43/44)]