Hello Hudson Valley! We are so pleased to announce that Primrose Hill School, providing an education based on the Waldorf system, is opening its doors in September of 2013 with a mixed age kindergarten. We have secured an amazing space located in the Village of Rhinebeck. Waiting to greet the children, the new Primrose Hill School is located on over 7 beautiful acres with access to forest and other natural habitat. Our lead kindergarten teacher, Miss Abel, has been teaching at the Hawthorne Valley Waldorf School in Ghent, NY for the past 5 years. We are ecstatic to have her on the team.
Why Waldorf? I attended the Rudolf Steiner School, a Waldorf School in New York City, where I enjoyed my time so very much. My mother was thrilled that the parents were invited to become involved, learning hands on craft making, woodworking, philosophy and other Waldorf system skills. When my daughter turned 1 in April of 2011, I started to think about her schooling. I knew this was what I wanted for my child; toys made of only natural materials, beeswax crayons, whole food lunches, music and movement, outdoor play and visits to “the farm” to learn about farm animals and organic growing.
Living here in the Hudson Valley I have come to find that nature is our best teacher. A home school mom I met recently shared with me in detail about the abundance of natural resources this area offers. Children here are able to learn about the natural world through direct experience - not always an option in an urban setting. Primrose Hill School and all Waldorf schools emphasize outdoor imaginative play in natural surroundings.
Another aspect of Waldorf I really resonate with is that Rudolf Steiner, the founder of Waldorf education, understood that a child learns primarily through imitation. Well, this is not rocket science. My daughter is 3 years old now. She wants to do what I do. Wear what I wear. Walk like I walk. This simple observation is one of the foundations of Waldorf early childhood education. How refreshing! Not to mention obvious for anyone with a child. The most beautiful moments with my daughter have been in the performing of perfunctory tasks where I am not telling her what to do. She simply joins in my action. No words are needed.
Speaking of words, here is an example of how parents learn by providing a Waldorf education for their children (and for themselves): On a visit to Hawthorne Valley, the kindergarten teacher gave me a handout. It emphasized that one should give children the space to initiate conversation and action and not to assume, for example, that a bird flying overhead (look Sasha! look!) is more important than the stick she is currently fascinated with. This lesson made me more aware of how, albeit with all good intentions, I have felt the need to insert myself into her space. I began to wonder if what I had to say was relevant enough to take her out of her inner world. That day, and thereafter, I practice the art of speaking to my daughter in response to when she speaks to me rather than creating a conversation in order to fill a gap. Not an easy task, but a fulfilling lesson learned.
These insights and many others have helped me become a better parent - to be more patient, responsive, and consistent. Of course these ideas are not exclusive to Waldorf, but being in a community of the like-minded makes this new awareness easier to grasp. Each time I discover a new Waldorf principle, it doesn’t feel like something new. It feels like a remembering. As if it were already encoded in my being - a natural instinct. Ah yes. This is good. This feels right! It is easy to adapt to new ideas and practices when they are in alignment with one’s intuition.
The early-years classroom at Primrose Hill School is an extension of home. Spending time with Miss Abel, a kind and learned Waldorf teacher is like spending time in the “perfect home”. At Primrose Hill School we learn much from the Waldorf educational model - bringing back to our own home concepts and methods to enhance all our relationships. Our passion here is not only sustainable education but to join the community in supporting all things sustainable, organic and LOCAL.
Come join us!
Diana Cohen – Co-Founder