Creative play is at the heart of our early childhood programs. We offer both Nursery and Kindergarten classes for ages 2.5 to 6.Through imaginative play, children learn to integrate life experiences and explore new possibilities. Self-initiated play builds each child's capacity to think creatively, problem solve, and develop social relationships - practicing and testing their skills as they tackle more and more difficult tasks. Using the simplest of natural materials, children construct miniatures worlds, flexing their imaginations. Open-ended toys allow children to imitate activities from everyday human life and make important conceptual connections. Participating in play cultivates comprehension, memory, and imagination, and strengthens growing bodies.
As they master their world through play, children develop new competencies that lead to enhanced confidence and resilience. Undirected play allows children to learn how to work in groups, to share, to negotiate, to resolve conflicts, and to learn self-advocacy skills.
— Kenneth R. Ginsburg, MD, MSEd, and the Committee on Communications and the Committee on Psychosocial Aspects of Child and Family Health, Pediatrics Magazine
Our classrooms are designed with the children's senses in mind.
The quality of the physical environment of a Waldorf Early Childhood classroom is integral to our educational goals for the children - preserving the innocence and innate wonder of early childhood for the sake of healthy physical, intellectual, and emotional development. Our Early Childhood teachers work to create a safe, welcoming, and stimulating environment filled with activities worthy of imitation by the young child. Here, one can breathe easily, relax, and play according to the impulses of one's heart.
Young children learn and grow through story, verse, song, and movement.
Waldorf teachers work consciously with rhythm - the larger rhythms of the seasons, and the smaller rhythms of the weeks and days - to facilitate learning. Through story, verse, song, and movement, children experience seasonal shifts and recognize subtle changes. The daily rhythm of activities includes time for imaginative free-play, preparation and sharing of healthy snacks, artistic activities, stories told by the teacher, outdoor play, hikes, and gardening. Weekly rhythms include watercolor painting, eurhythmy (a movement class), bread baking, and soup making. Through these activities and others, a container of security and predictability is created in which each child can relax and grow with confidence.
Play is serious business for children, as important for them as work is for adults.
— Jack Petrash, Waldorf Educator
Westside Waldorf School occupies two campuses, both of which offer Kindergarten, Nursery and Parent-Child Programs: the Early Childhood Center in Santa Monica, and the McComb Nursery–8th Grade campus in the Pacific Palisades. Our Early Childhood Centers and staff, experienced child-care providers with Waldorf training, meet all licensing requirements.