I had the opportunity to visit the Suncoast Waldorf school for a tour with my 11 month old son, Jack, and wanted to share a bit of the experience with you.
The classrooms are beautiful, painted in pastel colors with a calming feel. The premises, gardens and outside play areas are green, shaded and inviting. The staff are friendly, soft-spoken and gentle. The students look bright, happy, interested and peaceful. Coming from the busy shuffle of the outside world the atmosphere of the Waldorf school was a breath of fresh air.
I interviewed Barbara, the Director and one of the founders of the Waldorf School to find out more about their teaching methods and what makes Waldorf unique. What I learned is that they aim to help their students fall in love with the world. Their curriculum is built around the development of the child and preserving their childhood. Much of the teaching is done through imagery, story telling, interacting with nature and using the senses. This style of learning helps the students connect not only with their minds but with their hearts.
Their teachers are specially trained to qualify for their jobs and this training includes how they move and act. The idea is that children learn through imitation. We noticed a home-like quality in their activity.
Jack enjoyed playing with their hand-made dolls and wooden kitchen set. All of their playthings were extremely well looked after and made with natural materials.
We observed the parent/child playgroup that was in session with babies and toddlers singing, dancing and interacting playfully. I was ready to sign up!
Overall we had a great time and if you haven't seen it for yourself I recommend you take a tour. We are proud to have Suncoast Waldorf as a member of the Tampa Bay Birth Network.
A more detailed write-up from their Director is included below which discusses the specific classes available. They will be featured at the Natural Birth & Baby Expo on April 6th. Come and visit their booth, and mini-kindergarten area to get a taste of what they are all about!
" Suncoast Waldorf School was founded in 1998. It is part of the world-wide Waldorf School Movement developed by philosopher and scientist, Rudolf Steiner, and begun in 1919 in Stuttgart, Germany.
- “Merrily We Meet” and “Into the Meadow” parent/child playgroups
- “Marigold Nursery” for 3-year-olds
- “Butterfly Garden” and “Rose Garden” kindergartens for children 3 ½ to 6
- Grades one through eight
For parents with children three and under-including babes in arms-Suncoast Waldorf offers Parent/Child Playgroups one day each week. “Merrily We Meet” gathers on Thursdays and Fridays from 9:30 to 12:00. “Into the Meadow” is a nature playgroup that meets in the kindergarten play yard on Tuesdays from 9:30 to 11:30. These peaceful playgroups allow time for children to play and for parents to discuss parenting issues, help with snack preparation and do special craft projects. A small circle time brings everyone together for a puppet play, songs and verses. A snack is shared and then children help to wash the dishes before saying good-bye.
The early childhood programs offer a gentle transition to school in a homelike setting where children play, sing, help prepare whole food snacks, do simple hand work and listen to oral stories. For this brief window of time from age 3 to 6, children are allowed to be children whose worlds of fantasy and imagination build the foundation for flexible, creative, analytical thinking and strong academic work.
In the grades, Waldorf teachers strive to transform education into an art that educates the whole child—the heart and the hands, as well as the head. Bringing education as an art means creating lively, original lessons that meet the growing child at each stage of development by generating an inner enthusiasm for learning. All of the arts—music, drawing, painting, modeling, movement, drama, poetry—are incorporated into daily lessons. Children learn to do practical work with their hands by knitting, crocheting, sewing and woodworking throughout the grades. An interest in other cultures is fostered through Spanish and German classes beginning in first grade. Every child learns to play an instrument, beginning in first grade with a beautiful wooden flute and, later, learning a stringed instrument.
This education of the whole child in body, soul and spirit eliminates the need for competitive testing, academic placement, and behavioristic rewards to motivate learning. It allows motivation to arise from within and helps engender the capacity for joyful lifelong learning.
To learn more, visit www.suncoastwaldorf.org
or call 727-786-8311 to schedule a tour."