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Early childhood

Shaping the will, giving play to the imagination

In the Waldorf view of child development, the first seven years are the time to grow strong bodies and play games of pretend. Young children are essentially beings of will and imagination. Imaginative play stimulates areas of the brain needed for later learning. Physical movement promotes physical and mental development. Gross and fine motor activities develop neural pathways necessary for all manner of thinking.

You'll notice the absence of fully formed, "realistic" toys in the Pine Hill play environment. They tend to limit the child to the toymaker's preconceptions. We prefer ordinary household materials and natural objects that can, and do, become anything: twigs become a fairy's lunch; a swatch of silk becomes a cape; a sawhorse-like play structure becomes the wall of a castle. Even our dolls have the merest hints of facial features. We let the children imagine what they will.

Because young children are master imitators, we take care to manage the behaviors they mimic. Adults act in ways worthy of modeling. The younger children have their own play space, separate from older kids.

The rhythms of the day, week, and year

Waldorf educators have found that regular rhythms support children's learning and growth. Hence, our programs follow cycles of expansion and contraction — breathing in and breathing out — for the days, weeks, and year as a whole.

The expansive activity of free play moves to the quiet mood of rest time, opens again to the exuberance of outside play, which then leads to the hush and inner quiet of story time.

Seasonal festivals connect children to the natural rhythms of the year. Activities may include special foods, stories, songs, or joining the whole school in celebration.

To learn more about specific programs for children of different ages, choose from the menu above or contact us.