Something bizarre happened the other day: All the clothespins were missing from the laundry bin, while an installation of a variety of forms from shelters, buildings, ships to robots were assembled on my son’s table. Apparently, our wooden clips have transformed!
While he has conventional toys, my four-year-old would rather play with clips and blocks, as well as chips of wood salvaged from my husband’s studio. He would create what I would label as installation art; but for him, it’s simply his dream world, an outburst of his creative imagination. Even if he sees his dad do his own art, my son’s creative process was all the more encouraged by the holistic, age-appropriate activities at his school, especially free play.
Kolisko Waldorf School (KWS), a Steiner-inspired school at 22 Alabama St., New Manila, QC, was initiated by a group of parents and educators. KWS allows a child to live and enjoy childhood to the fullest. Following the Waldorf curriculum, KWS introduces academic learning only when the child is physically and emotionally ready and eager for it.
KWS’ homey atmosphere relieves the children of the stressful environment of traditional schools. The kinder class is aptly called Bahay-bahayan, where the kids can literally play house! They have various activities like drawing and painting, molding beeswax, baking bread and cookies to share during snack time as well as simple chores like setting up and clearing the table and tidying their toys after play. The outdoor activity is a favorite among the kids, too. They get to climb the monkey bars, water the plants, explore the soil and gather nature’s gifts of leaves, flowers and stones. The session ends with their circle time and storytelling using puppets and other props handcrafted by their teachers. These activities develop into a rhythm which the kids look forward to every day.
Nature walks and camping
With holistic education’s dictum of connections with the community and the natural world, KWS provides its students a chance to commune with the environment through nature walks and camping activities. The kinder class usually goes out of the school grounds to explore plants and animals in their natural environment. Once, my son went home with his loot: a heart-shaped leaf for mom and a large seed for dad. Surprisingly, this wonder seed produces a sound when you shake it—the perks of exploring! The graders, however, look forward to their annual out-of-town camping, which infuses lessons on woodwork and farming, at the same time exposing them to different cultures of the communities.
The aim of Waldorf schooling is to educate the whole child, “head, heart and hands.” The curriculum balances academics subjects with artistic and practical activities. Rudolf Steiner believed that children who learn to knit will read better, and that learning music will help a child develop skills in mathematics. This was affirmed with studies that the same areas of the brain are active in reading and in knitting, likewise is true for mathematics and music. In KWS, recorder playing is introduced on the first grade while violin is for third graders. When they reach the fifth grade, they can choose to either learn to play the cello or the guitar. Eventually, the students will not only learn how to handle each instrument well, but also play with harmony with the rest of the group in an ensemble.
Astrid Schmitt-Stegmann, Teacher Education Director of Rudolf Steiner College in San Francisco, explains the role of music in our lives: “Music is of great importance in the life of all children and of adults! It is in itself a healing element, soothing the soul in our overstressed society. Music speaks the language of our feeling life, it brings joy, social understanding, and the very human element of warmth and gratitude.”
As culminating activity for this school year, the Kolisko Waldorf School Ensemble will present a musical recital, “Music in Me 2: Song. Stories. Self.” with special guests John Lesaca and the Madrigal Singers.
Our aim is to find sponsors for 708 community children to watch the recital and enjoy music the way our children at KWS do.
Interested parties may sponsor three community children for P1,000; they may contact Arns Jara or Merci Silangan at 0920-4023860, or visit the Kolisko Waldorf School Facebook page.
“Music in Me 2: Songs. Stories. Self” will be held March 31, 5 p.m., at Henri-Lee Irwin Theater, Ateneo de Manila University.
Jocelyn T. Calubayan is a cultural worker, a Waldorf mom to Kristo Miguel, and serene wife to Buen, a visual artist.