We've had such a wonderful experience with the kids' preschool Waldorf teacher. When I used to think of Waldorf I thought of pretty wooden toys, play silks and imaginitive, fairytale-inspired play. While I still have a LOT to learn, this is what I now know about Waldorf and here are a few resources to get you started if you're interested too:)
That being said, those are all rather nebulous concepts and you may still be saying, "Yeah, but what exactly IS it?!" I'm not an expert. I can testify of the positive results that I've seen in our family, but I couldn't necessarily give you a lot of the how and the why behind it. But here are a few books that Sam and Viv's teacher, Amber, recommends as a starting place:
Rhythms of Learning, A collection of lectures by Rudolf Steiner, the founder of Waldorf Education. These are presented in a very succinct way with helpful commentaries. It's a good place to start if you're thinking about homeschooling with a "Waldorf flavor."
You Are Your Child's First Teacher, focuses on healthy child development and how to create a nurturing home environment for your children at every age.
A few more that Amber recommends: Simplicity Parenting, Beyond the Rainbow Bridge: Nurturing Our Children from Birth to Seven, Mitten Strings for God, and Festivals Family and Food (we have this one and love it).
Amber created a wonderful post about how to get started in Waldorf that is worth a look if you're curious. And here's a picture of her and her sweet babe:)
I have always been drawn to the Waldorf aesthetic and didn't find that much of a shift had to be made in terms of the sorts of toys the kids have, or the media (or lack thereof) in our home. But learning more about the reasons behind the beautiful toys, silks and dolls has been meaningful for me. Perhaps one of the biggest shifts has been letting go of any desire for them to be "early achievers." It's so common for a parent to be excited about their child's firsts, particularly if they come a bit ahead of schedule: talking, walking, reading etc. Waldorf takes a much more relaxed approach, more of a gentle encouraging of the natural unfolding and development of a child's potential. I've found that my kids really appreciate this approach and thrive in it.
I think that perhaps more important than acquiring a bunch of beautiful rainbow colored silks, natural art supplies and fancy, wooden toys from Germany, a more impactful way to start is to begin by removing those things that are more grating to the senses: TV and frenetic movies (we still have family movie nights, we just try to be purposeful about our movie choices; I have a Pinterest Board of some of our favorites.), plastic toys, blinking toys etc. Sticks and grass, their own voices and scraps of yarn and cloth make wonderful, simple toys that aren't offensive to the senses.
When you're ready to add some things, here are a few of our favorites:
Amber's beautiful play silks.
And that's about the extent of our Waldorf homeschool/preschool experience. Really, we've barely gotten our feet wet with all there is to learn. Luckily it's a model that lends itself to simply jumping in and starting where you're at. Today we're off to Wheeler Farm to enjoy some of this unseasonably warm weather!