New Waldorf kindergarten helps children honour earth, harmony

“The costumes designed to celebrate the changing seasons are hung up ready to be donned. Puppets wait to perform.”

December 20, 2014

When Kim Hunter moved to Salt Spring Island and set up a Waldorf kindergarten on the island, I wrote an article about it. This began a friendship between us that has lasted to this day.

For this reason, I recently attended a screening of Kim’s film when it was presented in a school auditorium in Victoria, BC. The young parebnts reminded me of how being a parent in North America often sets us on a hunt for the best education for our children and many of us are so often afraid to the point of paranoia that catastrophe is bound to crash down on our children’s heads if we somehow get where they go to school wrong.

It made me personally realize that with my son now being 27 years-old, I am long free from those stressful years of worrying.

Still my interest in Waldorf education has remained from the time I wrote the following story about it in 1999. For one thing, Kim and I soon discovered that I knew her aunt Joy from my feminist activist days in Winnipeg. Also, because Rudolph Steiner, the founder of Waldorf education, was a deeply intuitive human being, and an advocate of this, many people associated with this movement have come to me for tea leaf readings over the years.

Here is the piece:

Gulf Islands Driftwood

October 27, 1999

New Waldorf kindergarten helps children honour earth, harmony

by Tanya Lester

It is easy to spot the entrance to A Child’s Garden, a Waldorf kindergarten being developed on Southey Point.

A scarecrow marks the road onto the property.

At the end of the wooded drive, the gabled and turreted two-storey brown house looks like it could exist in a fairy tale.

In the back, there is a fenced garden and another building which will soon be transformed into a workshop area.

Inside, the atmosphere is cozy. The floors are carpeted. The homemade dolls “wait” in their cradle for someone to nurture them.

The costumes designed to celebrate the changing seasons are hung up ready to be donned. Puppets wait to perform.

Teachers Kim Hunter and Lynn Surowich are preparing for their students.

Atmosphere, or “esthetic nourishment” as Surowich calls it, is important in a Waldorf kindergarten. “It is about the awe and wonder of the world,” said Surowich. “It is the education of the body and soul.”

Store-bought are non-existent. The children who attend the kindergarten and preceding workshops, who are aged three and a half to six years old, will “transform raw materials” into toys.

Hunter and Surowich turn the pages of a photograph album and point out pictures of children in playhouses they have made themselves out of wooden materials.

According to Surowich, there is truth for the children in handling these materials . A doll can be given a sad or happy face and that face can change to reflect different emotions, unlike a Barbie doll whose expression is fixed on its face.

“If it falls apart you can fix it or recycle it,” Surowich said.  “This what the art does: it transforms and inwardly it makes things new again.”

“They make their world their own,” added Hunter.

Waldorf education honours the earth and the changing seasons. It encourages children to alter their activities to live in harmony with the earth’s rhythm and to honour those changes.

A three-part lantern making workshop which is the school’s first public event for the entire family is an example of this. Watercolour paintings done by participants are turned into lanterns.

The lighted lanterns will be carried during a walk on the land around the house. Hunter explained  the walk recognizes the separation between humans and other animals,  many of which begin to hibernate in the late fall. Carrying the lanterns in a time when the hours of darkness lengthen is a symbol of humans carrying on while other species rest.

In the spring, Waldorf kindergarten students might  say goodbye to King Winter and Jack Frost while dressing as Lady Spring in primrose crowns.

During these celebrations and while the children garden or create art, Surowich said, it is typical for everyone to be singing tunes related to the season they are experiencing.

Surowich and Hunter waited until October to move into the house at 2732 Southey Point because they feel its “warm, homelike setting” is in line with the Waldorf philosophy…

——-__–EEee

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