At Heartsong Learning Co-op, we have the freedom to create a rich and vibrant program that integrates different approaches to learning and being fully human. We work collaboratively with our lead learning facilitator, regularly reflecting on how to best respond to the needs of our children. Our humanistic approach seeks to support our kids in being whole while partnering with nature as our guide.
Waldorf/Steiner - Humanistic and Holistic Education
A holistic approach to education is integrative. A Waldorf learning environment is relaxed and has elements of home, i.e. kitchen, garden, etc. In this way, life becomes the classroom and learning is not something to be "turned on" or "turned off." Integrative education seeks to see the big picture of how the parts of the world are related and how events are connected. Holistic education recognizes the many styles of learning and engages all of our senses in the learning process.
Nurturing the Our Children’s Spirits
In accordance with Waldorf education, we recognize our children as spiritual beings with not only physical needs, but with spiritual needs as well, i.e. the need for non-violence, the need for beauty, the need to be in circles of gratitude, respect, and reciprocity, and the need to foster the artistic aspects/creative sensibilities of one’s being and development, etc. The environment we are creating seeks to protect, preserve, and inspire all the beauty our children brought in with them.
Head, Hands, Heart
At its core, the Waldorf model excels at nurturing the mind’s curiosity and inspiration, creating life-long learners that are primed to follow their unique interests and hone their natural talents.
Waldorf education also recognizes the many benefits of crafting and tending the earth element with our hands and bodies as part of our human physical experience.
Steiner's approach places the heart at the center of integrated development. Weaving in motifs of the heart in what we do creates meaning and connection to how we relate with each other, the world around us, and any projects we may be engaged in.
Natural Cycles and Rhythms
Waldorf education models its daily/yearly class structure, themes, and events on natural cycles, such as cycles of activity (work/play) and repose/rest, giving and receiving, and seasonal changes. These themes are accentuated by corresponding songs, stories, rituals, and creative projects.
Bonds For Life
In the Waldorf model, the same teacher stays with the same class throughout the duration of their education. A deep bond between the children and lead learning facilitator is formed with this kind of consistency during their developing years. The trust and rapport this builds between children and their adult role models gives a sense that they are a part of a holistic system. With this kind of steady holding they learn to trust life and flourish.
We Are Nature
In our 300,000+ year history as humans, we have only very recently developed a lifestyle that does not place us predominantly outdoors and spending the majority of our day directly interacting in the world in meaningful ways.
Since this is how we evolved to form resiliency and balance, time in nature is integral to health for body, heart, mind, and spirit.
We Need Nature
We have likely discovered that Nature (being outside) is the only container big enough to nurture and hold the energetic immensity of our children. Time outside, and in natural, established woodlands in particular, can provide much needed natural orientation, grounding, and self-regulation.
These benefits are also derived from time spent with the natural elements of earth, water, fire, air. In our program, we create time and space to be outside with all of the elements of nature.
Nature as Classroom and Teacher
In an uncertain and rapidly changing world, we instinctively know to go back to what is steady and unchanging -- the ever-present guiding hand of Nature. Not only does Nature teach us how to navigate the world and live on Earth, Nature teaches us how to be human and how to be fully alive. Working with and studying our environment presents endless opportunities to be curious about and connected to the world we live in.
A Balance of Exploration and Focus
Curiosity, passion, and excitement are the core elements that unlock the deepest levels of learning, integration, and long-term retention. By respecting "what's alive" in our children's process of learning and exploration, we foster a life-long love for the learning process, essentially integrating learning with living and how we engage life.
Being interested in something provides an opportunity to learn about anything. Having a compelling project or field trip provides interest and focus. With these essential ingredients for learning, any subject can be creatively woven into a lesson plan to create memorable experiences and long-term learning retention.