Discipline in the Waldorf Kindergarten

In Kindergarten at a Waldorf school there are many objectives in the classroom and playground. One of the main focuses in the classroom setting is allowing and assessing the children as they are within the group. At age 4, 5 and 6 certain thresholds are crossed and experiences assimilated as the child grows in confidence and matures towards independence.

For those children who hold back and will not participate we give ample time and opportunity for their inner strength to grow. At the start of the year there is a new classroom, new teacher, new children and all the myriad new dynamics that this brings. There are also the new “rules” for happy and harmonious social interaction and progression through the school morning.

Each child comes with a different ability in each regard, depending on their life experiences thus far, their growing personality and character and their karmic package. It is every teacher’s wish that each child unfolds to his full potential. And in order to facilitate this we must give the child what he needs as opposed to what he wants.

In the first instance the teacher would look to see if the demands of the day are in keeping with this particular group and would make adjustments accordingly based on their age and aptitude amongst other things.  Perhaps ring time needs to be shorter or earlier.  Does the group need a day in nature with a picnic under some trees?  Do they need to run hard on the big field instead of doing formalised movements in ring?  Or do they need to be brought into a circle and captivated with new adventures in the ring time story?  Every teacher will assess the needs of a group and will bring a healthy rhythm to each day and a reasonable expectation based on their observation of the group.

Once a reasonable expectation has been established with careful consideration over time, the teacher will clearly see where imbalances occur in individual children.  There are as many different possibilities of these as there are children.  Some may struggle with stillness, some may be hesitant to participate, some may always want their own way, some may take things that aren’t theirs. The list is endless.  For those who are unable to participate in various aspects or scenarios – the teacher will sensitively intuit the issue around the child through the day – giving subtle and encouraging opportunities so as not to overwhelm the child and have him retract. If the behaviour does not shift after much consideration and contemplation and efforts from the teacher, the situation is shared at Faculty in the pedagogical section of our agenda.  In so doing, colleagues can bring their wealth of knowledge and experience to the table and there is the possibility that a creative solution that has not yet been imagined may be presented.

That our inspiration be not limited to the material world, most teachers have a list of the children in their class beside their bed.  At night before sleep time, the teacher will go through the list saying the name of each child and bringing their image to mind.  Those with an imbalance, the teacher will ask their angel for help.  In particularly difficult situations, one can visualise the parents too behind the child with their angels too.  This practice is very helpful in the busy day when working a lot with imagination, inspiration and intuition in the moment.

As the triangle of parent, teacher and child is so important – we will meet with the parent to discuss concerns and share ideas with the intention of bringing balance to the issue at hand.  Depending on the imbalance, often it is simply due to TV watching and over stimulation.  There could be a lack of rhythm and routine in the home life of the child, or some emotional upset in the home environment.  Again the possibilities are endless.   But many of these are simple scenarios and with co-operation from the parents, the shift in a child is fairly quickly witnessed, both at home and at school. These successes are a joy and a pleasure – and sometimes a relief for both the parent and teacher.  But the most important thing is that the child can then experience himself more harmoniously in the world. After all, everything that we do is for the good of the child. It is the well-being of the child that is held at the centre of all things.

I cannot stress how important is the parent, teacher and child triangle – in order that the child can feel secure. It is important that parents communicate with the teacher around any concerns.

Should there be an imbalance that needs to be addressed in any child, we assess it and work with it in the light of anthroposophy and with the love we hold in our hearts for the child.

Laura Moss, Kindergarten teacher