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Building a lifelong love of learning

Young children are entirely given over to their physical surroundings; they absorb the world primarily through their senses and respond in the most active mode of knowing: imitation.

The early years are a time when a child’s imitative and imaginative play creates the basis for future learning and academic mastery. By becoming fully engaged in such “work” (play), the child builds powers of concentration, interest, and a lifelong love of learning.

The early childhood curriculum therefore centers on experiential education, allowing children to learn by example, and opportunities for imaginative play.

The overall goal of the curriculum is to imbue the child with a sense that the world is good. Therefore, the early childhood classroom is intended to resemble a home, with tools and toys usually sourced from simple, natural materials that lend themselves to imaginative play.

Rudolf Steiner (founder of Waldorf Education) spoke on a number of occasions about the experiences that are essential for the healthy development of the young child:

  • Love and warmth.
  • An environment that nourishes the senses.
  • Creative and artistic experiences.
  • Meaningful adult activity to be imitated.
  • Free imaginative play.
  • Protection for the forces of childhood.
  • Gratitude, reverence and wonder.
  • Joy, humor and happiness.
  • Adult caregivers pursuing a path of inner development.

The feelings of peace, quite and serenity in the Waldorf Pre-school and Kindergarten classrooms, the soft glow and careful arrangement of the room, and the wonderful aroma of morning snack cooking on the stove are designed to envelope the young child in a loving, gentle and natural environment.

This is where security and trust are built and a sense of the beautiful can unfold, allowing the child to fully engage in the wonder of the world.


Learning is the key to human development, it is not a simple, information passing process. The Waldorf early childhood teacher strives for a comprehensive understanding of the human being through all the stages of development as well as an understanding of each child arrived at through conscious and careful study.

Only then can he/she come to know what to teach and when and how to teach it. The teacher strives to help the child to become eventually a clear-thinking, sensitive and well-centered adult. To achieve this, Waldorf teachers relate to their pupils by responding to the most appropriate elements in each childhood phase.

Our Lavender Rose Pre-School is for ages 2.0 – 4.5.

Pre-school runs Monday through Friday from 8:30 am to 12:30 pm, with the following options of attending:

2 days (Thur-Fri)

3 days (Mon-Wed)

5 days (Mon-Fri)


The Lavender Rose classroom features soft colors, fresh flowers, natural toys, and a home-like atmosphere of warmth and calm.

We encourage you to attend one of our regularly scheduled Open Houses to find out more about the Waldorf School of Santa Barbara’s approach to Early Childhood and spend time talking with our faculty about the empowering work they do, tour our nursery rooms and outdoor play spaces and gardens. Private tours are also available.


The kindergarten teacher in a Waldorf school works with the young child first by creating a warm, beautiful and loving home-like environment, which is protective and secure and where things happen in a predictable, regular manner.

The teacher responds to the developing child in two basic ways:

  • Firstly, the teacher engages in domestic, practical and artistic activities, which the children can readily imitate (for example baking, painting, gardening, and handicrafts), adapting the work to the changing seasons and festivals of the year.
  • Secondly, the teacher nurtures the children’s power of imagination particular to the age by telling carefully selected stories and encouraging free play. This free or fantasy play, in which children act out scenarios of their own creation, helps them to experience many aspects of life more deeply.

In the Rosemary Kindergarten, learning is encouraged through movement and play. Free play sparks imagination and encourages social relationships.

Numbers are introduced through counting games. Outdoor play instills appreciation of the natural world. Life skills are taught even at a young age through activities such as baking and cooking, cleaning, planting and watering the garden.

Artistic activities explore color and encourage creativity. Storytelling stimulates visualization, vocabulary, and motivates expression. Children are exposed to Spanish language and culture through games, songs, and stories.

When toys are used, they are made of natural materials. Pine cones, wood, cotton, silk, shells and other objects from nature that the children themselves have collected are used in play and the beautify the room.

Sequencing, sensory integration, eye-hand coordination tracking, appreciating the beauty of language and other basic skills necessary for the foundation of academic excellence are fostered in the kindergarten. In this truly natural, loving and creative environment, the children are given a range of activities and the structure that help prepare them for the next phase of school life.

Children from the ages of 4.5 to 6 years old are welcome. Our program runs from Monday through Friday.


Parent-Child Program

The Waldorf Parent-Child program offers parents and their children many hands-on activities combined with parent education. Special attention is given to supporting the unfolding of each child’s interests, motor skills, social interaction and problem solving skills. Through a morning of play, crafts, circle games and songs, cooking and puppet shows, we share our understanding of child development and offer sources of inspiration for life at home.

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