Ever since my five-year-old son spent a week at the Emerson Waldorf (EWS) Pre-School Magic (Kindergarten/pre-K) Summer Camp several weeks ago, I have been thinking about some of the things that make the Emerson Waldorf pre-school/Kindergarten such a magical, gentle, beautiful place for children.
(In his own words,) my son LOVED the Waldorf Kindergarten summer camp SO much. He spent the days playing with his little friends in the gorgeous EWS kindergarten playgrounds, surrounded by nature and beautiful flowers, picking ripe figs from the fig tree (and eating them), making beautiful Waldorf crafts, listening to wonderful stories told by his kind and gentle camp teachers, going for walks in the woods, and splashing around in wading pools at the end of the camp day. He didn’t want it to end!
That’s the way I feel also when I spend time at the EWS Kindergarten class rooms or in the playground/gardens. It feels so peaceful and calm; a perfect pallet for children to use their imaginations in harmonious play. The children are surrounded by lush nature, both indoors (through the spacious, bright windows looking out over the gardens and woods) and outdoors in the playground/gardens and surrounding woodlands. The beautiful hand-crafted toys in the kindergarten are made of all natural materials: wood, silk, wool. Children see these toys and they just can’t wait to get right to work and play!
My children have all had the happy early childhood experience of attending the EWS Kindergarten/pre-K and/or Morning Garden classes, and while I have been thinking about it, I wanted to share just a few of the things that we love about the EWS Kindergarten/pre-school.
- The Soup! Every week on Tuesdays, each child brings a vegetable to school, and then the children use (dull) butter knives to chop the vegetables and put them all in a pot for soup that they all share together for lunch. Every week the soup is completely different, depending upon what the children have brought in that day. This taught us as a family to make endless delicious and HEALTHY soups at home – no recipe required! The communal sharing aspect of the Kindergarten Soup day reminds me of the “Stone Soup” story (we like the Stone Soup book version by Jon J. Muth).
- The Bread! Every week the children help to make dough and knead the dough for bread, then the dough is left to rise. The next day the bread is baked and the children enjoy the fruits of their labor at snack/lunch time: delicious, wholesome warm whole grain bread (fresh out of the oven!)
- No TV on school nights. Having a school rule made it easy for our family to just say NO to television early on. Thanks to the school rule, the children understand that it’s a rule; parents understand that it makes sense not to clutter up their minds with TV instead of keeping their minds open for learning, and playing and resting after school. From there our family got out of the habit of watching television. It is very liberating to not need (or want) a tv for entertainment. It frees up your time and your mind, and it frees up your child’s imagination, creativity and active play time!
- Fall Lantern Festival – In the fall, the Emerson Waldorf School has a lantern festival, where the school children and their families gather together, with paper lanterns they have made in school, and walk through the woods, singing songs. (A charming German tradition for St. Martin’s Day). At the end of the festival everyone enjoys hot baked apples.
- Seasonal Family Festivals – The Waldorf school celebrates the seasons with several wonderful family festivals from year to year. The festivals feature delicious, wholesome food (soups, fresh-baked bread, fresh-squeezed lemonade), fun crafts and activities, beautiful, dream-like puppet shows, games, hay rides, jump-rope making, flower-wreath-making, so many fun things to do, all in the beautiful woodsy setting of the EWS school and its playgrounds/gardens.
- Maypole Dance – Every year at Spring time, the EWS Kindergarten children have a Maypole Dance. The Kindergarten teachers lead the children in a circular dance around the Maypole, with each child holding onto a very long ribbon of silk, fluttering in lots of different colors. As the children dance in a circle around the Maypole, they are weaving the ribbons around the pole. After the Maypole Dance the kindergarten children and their families enjoy a pot luck picnic together.
These are just a few of the things that make the Emerson Waldorf Kindergarten/pre-school such a magical, peaceful, nature-based environment for children. The EWS Kindergarten Summer Camps offer a wonderful way to experience a feeling for what the Kindergarten is like. The Emerson Waldorf Kindergarten summer camps provide a wholesome, happy childhood experience that many grown-ups would love to stay and enjoy with their kids!
The Emerson Waldorf School also offers many wonderful, nature-based, imagination-based Summer Camps for all ages (from theater, to games, to sports, to crafts, to fort building and much more). www.emersonwaldorf.org/community/summer-camps/
Emerson Waldorf School Pre-K – 12
6211 New Jericho Road, Chapel Hill, NC 27516