Play, The Work of Childhood
The Waldorf Early Childhood classrooms are a haven for childhood, where the young child can develop at a pace that is nurturing and unhurried. Classrooms are harmonious, homelike environments that are beautiful, warm and nurturing. In these environments, imagination and creativity flourish with children participating in meaningful tasks that develop coordination and cooperative social skills, while unfolding creative and imaginative capacities that build a strong foundation for later academics. At this age, children respond to their environment and learn by imitation, so the teachers model reverence for beauty and goodness.
Children have ample time for free, imaginative play. The classroom, bathed in natural light, is filled with natural, open-ended play things such as cut rounds of branches, polished stones, wooden toys, handmade dolls, beeswax and shells. Fibers such as wool, silk and cotton also provide varied textures that enhance the child’s sensory integration. The wooden play kitchen and doll corner invite children to play the roles of life that they experience all around them. The open-ended quality of these simple, natural toys leaves much to the child’s imagination. Our classrooms embrace the motion that is characteristic of all young children and give time and space for the children to move and climb.
The rhythm of the day flows seamlessly from imaginative play, to a seasonal circle time of songs, verses and movement, a time for tidying the room, a shared wholesome snack around a beautifully set table, outdoor play, stories and puppet plays. The children always enjoy an abundance of fresh air and spend a good portion of every day outdoors.
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If a child has been able in his play to give his whole being to the world around him, he will be able in later life to devote himself with confidence and power to the service of the word ~ Rudolf Steiner
All of the Early Childhood programs have limited space and wait lists are maintained when a class becomes full.
In keeping with Waldorf educational philosophy, our Merrily We Meet Parent and Child Playgroup embraces the wonder of early childhood. Babies and toddlers, together with their parent or primary caregiver are welcome. Groups meet one morning per week for two hours to enjoy a peaceful morning enriched with song, verse, snack and play.
Young children learn about themselves and the world through their own efforts. They learn in their own way and in their own time as they find their hands, turn over, crawl and eventually sit, stand and walk. The Merrily We Meet play space provides room and developmentally appropriate natural material toys and objects for children as they grow through each of these phases. Our classes provide an opportunity for adults to learn about the unique qualities of each child through study, observation and reflection.
A Nurturing Environment
Children learn best when we envelop them with love and meaningful work to imitate. In class, teachers and parents cooperate in purposeful activity, which inspires the children in their play. Children may help or play independently as they begin learning how to be an individual within a group.
Through bread making and sharing of a wholesome snack, children are enveloped in the warmth of community spirit. Handwork projects for the adults enrich our experience of the seasons. Through beautiful, age-appropriate songs and stories, teachers assist parents in creating a healthy and harmonious rhythm for their child’s day. With joy and laughter, parents and children celebrate this time of togetherness.
Looking Toward the Future
Through reading and discussion, parents gain an understanding of ways in which seeds planted in early childhood blossom in later years. Teachers answer questions and make recommendations for parents interested in learning more about Waldorf education. Playgroup families are welcome at all school festivals and gatherings and are often active participants in the Suncoast Waldorf School community.
Merrily We Meet parent-child program is appropriate for parents, grandparents, and/or caregivers of crawling babies and toddlers to age 3. Families may join at any time, as space allows, and the remainder of the tuition for the semester will be prorated from the start date. If the class that you are interested in is full, indicate on your application that you would like to wait listed for that class.
As with all school enrollment, there is no make-up or refund for missed classes.
We currently offer three mixed-age Kindergarten classes: The Marigold Garden, The Sunflower Garden, and the Periwinkle Garden.
Our kindergarten classes welcome children 3 years to 6 years of age and are guided by a lead teacher with an assistant. Classes are held Monday through Friday from 8:30am to 12:30pm. We have options for children to attend 2, 3 or 5 days each week. For those parents who require care for their children in the afternoon, there is a lunch / nap option from 12:30pm to 3:00pm daily. During the lunch / nap program, children sit together to enjoy a packed lunch from home and then rest during a peaceful quiet time.