So first, what is Waldorf education? let’s find out.
Waldorf education, also known as Steiner education, is based on the educational philosophy of Rudolf Steiner, the founder of Anthroposophy. This teaching approach strives to develop children’s intellectual, artistic, and practical skills in an integrated and holistic manner. The cultivation of a child’s imagination and creativity is a central focus.
Waldorf teaching theory considers that during the first years of life children learn best by being immersed in a learning environment promoting uninhibited imitation of practical activities. The early childhood curriculum therefore centers on experiential education, allowing children to learn by example, and opportunities for imaginative play. The overall goal of the curriculum is to “imbue the child with a sense that the world is good.”
Waldorf preschoolers are involved in a regular daily routine that includes free play and artistic activities: drawing, painting, modeling, singing songs, and telling stories. They also complete practical tasks: cooking, cleaning, and gardening.
The classroom is intended to resemble a home, with tools and toys usually sourced from simple, natural materials that lend themselves to imaginative play. Using natural materials has been widely praised as fulfilling children's aesthetic needs, encouraging their imagination, and reinforcing their identification with nature.
Since families have become more eco-conscious in recent years, toymakers are producing many more eco-friendly and natural toys to meet the increasing demand. Waldorf schools have always provided children with toys made of natural materials, such as wood, silk, wool and cotton.
Yes, these kinds of toys are good for the environment, but most importantly, they are good for children!
Waldorf toys should also be beautiful, because sight is as important as touch. Toys that are made from natural materials, with rich, natural colors, and that are lovingly handcrafted are inviting and contribute to a child’s “sense of life.” Waldorf toys are often simple, without a lot of detail. By giving children objects that are not highly formed and detailed, they can easily become more than one thing, and give a child’s imagination free reign.
Today more parents think Waldorf toys are the best toys for toddlers. When children play with natural materials such as wood, there is an intrinsic connection with the all-natural wood. The choice of wooden toys is a responsible one from an environmental standpoint as well.
In summary, Waldorf toys are nourishing to the senses, beautiful and inspiring to the imagination. Children love playing with them and they play a significant part in most all aspects of their development.