COLUMBIA — Garden Gate School of Columbia, a Waldorf-inspired kindergarten that educates children through the play-based curriculum, will extend its operation from two to five days a week starting this fall, the kindergarten’s co-directors said.
A kindergarten for up to 20 children between ages 3 and 6 at 107 Park Hill Ave., Garden Gate will reopen on Sept. 14 after the summer recess, said co-director Sarah Linsenmeyer. Hours of weekday operation, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., will stay the same as last January when the kindergarten opened for 10 children.
What: Open house for Garden Gate School
When: From noon to 4 p.m. Sunday
Where: 107 Park Hill Ave.
For information: gardengatecoop.org
Garden Gate will hold an open house from noon to 4 p.m. on Sunday to introduce interested parents to the curriculum.
According to the Association of Waldorf Schools of North America, 144 schools are accredited nationwide serving children from early childhood through age 18. Garden Gate School is a Waldorf-inspired institution, meaning the school isn't accredited by any Waldorf organization.
Waldorf methodology is a holistic approach that teaches children to learn about their environment through their hands, hearts and heads, which generate actions, feelings and intelligence. Deborah Kallmann, Garden Gate’s co-director, said the kindergarten is meant to inspire the Waldorf culture in Columbia.
In Garden Gate, simple, hand-made wooden crafts and the prevailing use of warm colors create a “peaceful and calming environment that nurtures a child’s senses, body and soul,” Linsenmeyer said. “We provide a safe, gentle and nurturing space to preserve childhood.”
Kallmann said the kindergarten takes a different approach to literacy compared to mainstream institutions. "We aren't pushing reading, writing and arithmetic," she said. "We are pushing experiences, senses and storytelling."
"It's a foundation for creative education in the future," Kallmann said.
Kallmann said Waldorf methodology is a balancing education that provides an opportunity for children to keep all of their senses alive rather than to narrow them to certain sensations.
Children experience the environment through storytelling, watercolor painting, dramatic play and puppetry, which prepares them for primary school, Kallmann said.
Kallmann said their goal is to encourage children to bring imagination to the world. In doing this, they endorse Waldorf's idea of keeping children from being exposed to the media and popular culture. "The media allows children to receive the world rather than to act on it," she said. "There is an artistic bent to everything."
"It's not just art that has been added to the curriculum," she said. "It's rather about education being art itself."