The thing I love about visiting thoughtfully prepared kindergarten spaces is the inspiration for setting up a beautiful space. Toy rooms don’t have to be full of broken junk.
In fact, when WE adults care for the things they play with (much easier to do when we also love their toys), children too are much more likely to care for their things, don’t you think?
For me, it is not about being exclusively Waldorf, or handmade, or eco-friendly.
Anywhere that mothers and fathers, or teachers, or family day carers, or playgroup leaders, or grandma’s and grandpa’s or social workers or hospital staff are being mindful of the toys they bring into their spaces, (thinking, of course, about the aesthetic beauty, practicality and open-ended nature of toys to encourage imagination), that is a place I want to visit.
(I’m always open to invitations to visit you!!)
It is just that Waldorf kindergartens do this very well.
(In fact, I have never seen a place better prepared to support imagination in all my years of being involved with education. And this is why I champion the work.)
What I most like to see are the baskets of ‘found’ objects- the bamboo pipes, the wood blocks, the seedpods, the smooth river stones, the large clam shells, and the pine cones.
These things are my true inspiration and I love to go out into nature to find these treasures with my newly opened eyes. When children instinctively know what they’ll do with a seedpod and a stick and a piece of cuttlefish, without the need for written instructions, I know they’ll be all right in the world!
Pure creative thought exists in our young children.
In each and every one of them.
Yes! Each and every one of them!!!!
Our job is to remove obstacles to this pure thought and keep them as connected as possible to what is true and good in their surroundings.
This kindergarten inspires me because at the very centre of their philosophy is the truth of being pure and simple. Some centres and rooms are guilty of being filled with lovely things that have been hand-crafted with love by teachers, parents and friends but that, in the big scheme of things, aren’t necessarily that helpful to the children in play. There is a place for our work and our creations, but it is a delicate balance. I think if we can lean more heavily on what the natural world provides, as seen in the simple beauty of a single vase of flowers or a basket of bunya nuts, we’ll be on the right track.
I also love plain walls.
I can’t understand how any child can possibly think in a room surrounded by their ‘artworks’ and posters of letters, and rules, and wall charts. I always feel overwhelmed. I wonder how the children feel….
In a room like this, there is a sense of calm. Of peace. Of everything being all right in the world.
Any artist of life, no matter what their passion, will tell you that their inspiration comes from a place of quiet. Inner quiet.
I think plain walls can help us to reach this inner place.
It is something I’m thinking about even more as I contemplate what I will, and won’t hang on the newly painted walls of my home.
This little set up is one to mention. My friend, teacher Anne, told me that children love to play with this doll house. A piece of silk is draped across the bamboo circles to create a home for the dolls. The bamboo ends sit in purpose drilled holes on the edges of a pine board. This doll house sits on a shelf in its own corner of the room and it is often a child who is overwhelmed or having a difficult day who finds their way over to where they can shrink their playfulness into such a small space. It seems to contain them, to heal their spirits as they deal with whatever challenges have faced them and many children are able to re-enter play in the group after a few minutes of ‘pull yourself together’ time with this toy.
It is kind of like our five minute tea break, I suppose….
Magical, don’t you think?
Anyone for a step back in time to kindergarten??