The first thing we did was the tour of the inside. As you walk in there is a front desk to ensure the school knows who is coming in and out of the building. When you turn to the right there is a room with all of the children’s cubbies. This is where they go in the morning to drop of their bags and change their shoes. It was interesting to me that the children must change into slipper like shoes that have grips on the bottom. This allows them to run around with protection for their feet, but not drag dirt throughout the building. From here, the children are allowed to roam around through the many different rooms freely until they meet for their morning circle.
In the morning circle I sat in on, there was a group of six children and one teacher. We sat on the floor in a circle and started with a chat. I couldn’t fully understand what they were saying, as my German is almost nonexistent. The rest of the time, there was a story told and the children had to recall the events from the day before. We also sat as the teacher hit a large metal bowl that seemed almost like a gong and the noise was similar. She then walked around allowing the students to get close and feel the vibration of the sound in their ears. Even when there was no sound left, the vibrations still rang when the bowl came close. I loved this as you could really see the children's minds start to work. They had the freedom to interpreted the surroundings and to try to come to their own understanding for why the bowl was doing this. Allowing the children to explore and learn on their own was something you could find throughout the preschool (Kindergarten), and I absolutely fell in love with this. I have always believed that children need to use their own senses and make their own conclusions to truly learn, a hands on experience, if you will. This school demonstrated these qualities beyond my belief.
We were not in there long but what we did see blew my mind. One of these things was the construction room. With a “license” from the school you were able to go into this area to build and use all of the materials available. This included saws, hammers, screws, etc. In my school district we started using these and learning about them in sixth grade, not when we were six years old. There was a theatre room where children could dress up and perform, there were jungle gyms with different types of floor material, like carpet, wood, stones, and more, so children could start to feel and understand them all. Another room was made for the arts, as well as a room for things such as blocks. There was truly a room for anything a child may dream of doing at school. Even I wanted to stay all day to play!
The only thing I could think was “this place couldn’t be any more perfect”. Until, I stepped outside into the courtyard. There was a large playground where children were encouraged to run, climb, and go upside down, a sandbox, a man made stream to bath in, a tree fort, and of course an area to play soccer, known as football in Europe. I really thought I had seen it all, then Frazi’s group went on a walk to the woods. I thought this was a regular nature walk, instead I found it was a short hike to a cabin that the Kindergarten uses as a part of their daily routine. The children can run around and play in the woods, go into the tee-pee made of pine branches, jump off of old tree stumps, sit in the grass and gaze at the nearby castle, or do anything else they could dream up. My jaw dropped when I saw this spot. I can’t even imagine having this kind of exposure to the world at such a young age.
Leaving this place left me speechless and truly so excited about teaching. I even have been entertaining thought of perhaps one day opening a preschool like this one in the United States. I have never seen anything so extraordinary and I really am in love with this idea. Though this was not officially a Waldorf school, there were many qualities which seemed to follow that general form of education. I can only pray that my experience in the Waldorf school later this week is just as thrilling.