Parents seeking an alternative form of education for their young ones might have come across the Waldorf or Steiner approach. Their emphasis on nature, arts and imagination have certainly attracted parents keen on eschewing the traditional rote learning in favor of creative play especially during a child’s early years. Currently, several Waldorf schools can be found in major cities across Malaysia. Read on to find out more about this fascinating form of experiential learning.
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Back in 1919, Emil Molt, owner of the Waldorf-Astoria cigarette factory in Stuttgart, Germany, was looking to establish a school for the children of his workers. He turned to renowned artist and scientist Rudolf Steiner for help in creating a curriculum that will help the children engage with their head, heart and hands – or thinking, feeling and doing.
The Waldorf education’s intended outcome is to produce young people who are well-rounded individuals, independent thinkers and problem-solvers, capable of creatively meeting challenges. The goal is to expose children to a wide range of experiences and to develop within them many interests and capabilities. This, in turn, leads to well-balanced young people with high levels of confidence in their ability to apply skills developed in one area to another, and the knowledge that they can master anything.
At kindergarten level, children between 3 to 6 years might be in the same room, and typical activities carried out during lessons include free play, movement games, story circle, arts & crafts, baking, puppet plays, nature walks and celebrating the festivals. The daily schedule and rhythm in a Waldorf classroom provides room to support a child’s curiosity. Classrooms can take place indoors and the outdoors, amongst nature where play is very much the norm, along with learning and movement.
Waldolf teachers are geared towards encouraging the child’s inner enthusiasm for learning. As a result, this eliminates the need for competitive testing, academic placement, and rewards, thus allowing motivation to develop from within and provide the opportunity for joyful learning. A Waldorf-certified educator must undergo a minimum of two years of fulltime training at a recognised Waldorf teacher training centre.
The approach Hilltop House brings to children in the early years is highly dependent upon their stage of development. Appropriate expectations for a two year old will differ greatly from those for a four year old, and from those for ourselves as adults. As they become increasingly aware of the children’s subtle developmental stages and develop our capacity for observation, we can support them more successfully to reach new heights. It is the philosophy of Hilltop House that children who feel safe, comfortable, and respected will exhibit a natural curiosity and enthusiasm for learning.
Hilltop House Child Development Centre (Preschool), 25, Jalan Burhanuddin Helmi, Taman Tun Dr Ismail, 60000 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, +6012 376 9882, Website
In this Waldorf-inspired early childhood center, much of the work of the teachers is directed towards the developmental readiness of the children for Class One. Activities in each class take into account the evolving developmental needs of the children, and adults guide as needed to facilitate healthy interactions. The physical environment of the center is carefully and aesthetically prepared with an emphasis on natural hand-crafted play toys and offers a beautiful garden setting. Their programme each day follows a familiar unhurried rhythm of activities, providing an opportunity for children to experience a mood of reverence, joy and wonder and the activities of giving and receiving, caring for others and a sense of belonging.
Sasana International School (Early Childhood Center), 40-G, Jalan Hijau 5/4, Pinggiran Lembah Hijau 4, Bandar Tasik Puteri, 48020 Rawang, Selangor, Malaysia, +603 6034 5821, Website
Rimbayu Playgarden is a Waldorf inspired kindergarten situated near the woods and greens of forest reserves at Selayang, which is 21 km away from the city center. In 2014, a Waldorf elementary school was set up by few like-minded families, who wish to provide education to the development of human individuality, eventually, an initiative to have a kindergarten emerged to provide care especially to teachers’ young children. They believe in cultivating an appreciation of life, connecting children to nature and developing the love for Mother Nature. Therefore their weekly program consists of 4 days in Playgarden with every Friday being their picnic day, where parents are also invited to join us in their park hopping activity.
Rimbayu Playgarden, 1, Jalan SU 37, Taman Selayang Utama, 68100 Batu Caves, Selangor, Malaysia, +6016 277 3727, Website
Kuala Lumpur Steiner Education follows Rudolph Steiner’s theory of child development, which divides childhood into three development stages, lasting approximately seven years each. The stated purpose of this approach is to awaken the “physical, behavioral, emotional, cognitive, social, and spiritual” aspects of each individual, fostering creatives as well as analytic thinking. The curriculum of this school focuses on the development of the whole child; utilizing age appropriate learning activities that matches the stages of child development; including multiple intelligences in every aspect of learning; and creative experiential approaches that addresses the whole child in willingness, feeling and thinking.
Kuala Lumpur Steiner Education, 3197 Jalan Penchala Indah, Penchala Hills, 60000 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, +6012 312 8038, Website
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