LifeWays® parent-child programs provide a beautiful, nurturing, and homelike environment where families come together to explore the wonders of childhood. This supportive learning community promotes open dialogue and discussion about parenting choices.
- The program curriculum is based upon and inspired by the developmental picture of the young child as described by Rudolf Steiner, the founder of Waldorf education, and other developmental theorists that resonate with that developmental picture. Parallels are also drawn to current research on early childhood development.
The parent-child program helps parents understand the great significance of their child’s development as they move through the major phases of play in the first years of life: play arising from the body, or sensory-motor play, play arising from imagination and imitation, and intentional pretending.
- The program provides parents with a circle of support in a non-judgmental, welcoming community in a time when parenting often does not come easily or naturally.
- Parents and children together are nurtured through the daily and seasonal rhythms woven into the class content prepared and guided by the parent-child teacher.
- Rich resources are given to the children to support their play within the context of the parent-child activities.
- Simple games provide songs, rhymes and movement for parents and children alike to enjoy.
- The children play with simple, natural materials and toys that protect and encourage their imaginative capacities and enrich their sensory experience.
- Within the activities of play provided in the program, children integrate the world and practice their life skills such as movement and balance, sensory integration, speech and language capacity, social and emotional interactions, and imaginative and cognitive development.
- Story time brings the magic of speech and language through simple puppet plays telling the delightful stories of the nursery rhymes and nursery tales.
- The domestic arts such as baking and snack preparation, craft activities, gardening, and caring for the environment also provide the children with examples to imitate from the adults around them.
- Parents learn through direct observation of the children, particularly in the parent-infant programs, and through discussion time with the teacher and reading materials centered on child development and issues pertaining to parenting and family life.
- Parents may also engage in a comparative study of ideas about child development and family styles throughout history and in different cultures by looking at families and children through the visual and literary arts.
- Parents explore together their educational values and questions pertaining to family life.
- Parents become resources for one another and develop a sense of community and “neighborhood”.
- Seasonal festivals are celebrated, establishing a connection to the greater cosmic rhythms that sustain us. This rhythmic experience helps parents as they seek to find their own balance with their children in home life.
- Parent-Infant classes and parent-toddler classes have a particular focus on child observation and may not include all of the components listed above, such as story time. Rather the emphasis is on the direct relationship between parent and child and understanding development in the first year or two of life. Special emphasis is placed on observing the child’s movement and allowing for plenty of floor time. This work is particularly inspired by the studies of Hungarian pediatrician Emmi Pikler and others who understand the need to give the young child freedom to move as a foundation for healthy development.