Modeling is one of the most important concepts in early Waldorf childhood education. Many books are written on the topic and entire Waldorf parent-child and Early Childhood programs are based on the concept. However, one must not lose sight of the fact that, in Waldorf education, each year is intended to build upon the previous year, not replace it. In Waldorf education what a child learns one year directly builds upon what they have learned in the previous year. Modeling continues to be important in the upper grades, even if it is not the central way of learning for the child.
In the early years emphasis is put on teaching the child through actions. When the parent/teacher does the dishes, a child also learns responsibility, fine motor skills and a sense of order. When the parent/teacher reads a book the child learns that books are something of interest and will become attracted to learning more about the words that are in them; and, when the parent/teacher knits a toy for the child the child may play with the yarn and try to knit something themselves. All these experiences become part of who the child is. At home, parents are encouraged to continue about their daily tasks rather than becoming the “entertainment” for the child or enrolling them in numerous outside activities – for it is within the home and in watching the parent that the child will learn all they need to learn to prepare them for the advanced learning processes.
Once a child reaches the age of seven, the emphasis is shifted to instruction rather than modeling. However, modeling should not be forgotten. Rudolf Steiner, the founder of Waldorf education, spent many hours lecturing to teachers in his first schools about being good role-models.
Read the rest of this article by Kristie Burns at The Magic Onions BLOG