"Play is serious business for children, as important for them as work is for adults."

- Jack Petrash, Waldorf Educator

Creative play is at the heart of our early childhood and kindergarten programs. Through imaginative play, children learn to experience and integrate the possibilities of life. Self-initiated play fosters children’s abilities 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 materials from nature to construct worlds, children flex their imaginations, which grow strong and active; open-ended toys allow children to imitate and transform activities of everyday human life. Participating in play cultivates and strengthens the child’s comprehension, memory, and imagination, as well as their growing body.

“As they master their world, play helps children develop new competencies that lead to enhanced confidence and the resiliency they will need to face future challenges. 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

Prescription for Play:

The quality of the physical environment of a Waldorf Early Childhood class is integral to our educational goals for the children - it is a sanctuary where all the child's senses are protected and nurtured. One can breathe easily, relax and play according to the impulses of one's heart. Waldorf teachers strive to preserve the innocence and innate wonder of early childhood for the sake of healthy physical, intellectual and emotional development, and work to create an environment filled with activities worthy of imitation by the young child.

Waldorf teachers work consciously with rhythm - the great rhythms of the seasons, as well as the smaller rhythms of the weeks and days. Through story, verse, song, and movement, we live with seasonal moods and experience subtle changes. The daily rhythm of activities includes time for imaginative free-play, preparation and sharing of nourishing 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 vessel of security and predictability is created in which each child can relax and grow with confidence.

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.