How do you feel when you are part of a group? People listening to your stories, laughing at your jokes…it’s fun, right? Every now and then at the Stone House, the children come together naturally as a group. Well, to be honest , sometimes they just cluster as a group in the same space and take each others toys and get in the way of one another. But there are other magical times when somebody starts a game, and then one by one, they all join in…there’s laughing, sharing, and you could just tell they’re all feeling good about being part of this group at this moment. When I stopped in at the west center one afternoon, the children gathered themselves for a picture. They first arranged themselves in a standing pose, and then in a “hug” pose. Last week, when I was leading circle time, instead of following me in a circle formation, the children formed a conga line behind me. My thoughts about this is that the group seems so cohesive, there’s something special going on here…In a LifeWays program, children have different experiences than that of an academic program. In a LifeWays program, children are able to test their limits and express themselves—through verbal discussion or through play. For most of the day, they are able to move about in their entire environment as they choose. The children are not simply task masters, following instructions given by the teacher. And they are not limited to using the space around them such as sitting at a desk or on a mat. Because they are able to be so expressive with their bodies and minds, their experience as an individual being part of a larger group becomes very profound. Their individuality is highly regarded, valued, and appreciated. And the group as a whole functions with this same creativity and uniqueness. I am not so sure this depth would be present in a group in a traditional program.
These are their life lessons… I told a joke today and people laughed, I started a running game and everyone joined in. Parents are sometimes concerned with what their child are not getting (such as conceptualized material) but what are they getting? We cannot underestimate the value of the social experience.
Here, the mission of WECAN (Waldorf Early Childhood Association of North America):
“To nurture a new cultural impulse for the work
with the young child from pre-birth to age
seven, based on an understanding of the healthy
development of the child in body, soul, and spirit,
and on a commitment to protect and nurture child
as a foundation for a truly human culture.”