Region’s Only Waldorf Preschool Opens

A SMALL, RURAL PRE-SCHOOL LOCATED SEVERAL MILES SOUTH OF MANCOS IN WEBER CANYON IS ATTRACTING FAMILIES FROM AS FAR AWAY AS RICO AND DURANGO, BUT IT’S NOT BECAUSE EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION OPTIONS ARE SO LIMITED IN THE REGION. IT’S BECAUSE THE SCHOOL OFFERS THE ONLY WALDORF PROGRAM IN SOUTHWEST COLORADO. YOU’RE WATCHING THE LOCAL NEWS NETWORK, BROUGHT TO YOU BY DURANGO ELECTRICAL SERVICES AND NICE ELECTRIC IN CORTEZ. I’M WENDY GRAHAM SETTLE. IT’S EASY TO MISS THE DRIVEWAY THAT LEADS TO THE MANCOS VALLEY DRAGONFLY PRESCHOOL OFF THE WEBER ROAD SOUTH OF MANCOS. THE BUILDING ITSELF IS TUCKED AWAY AGAINST A HILLSIDE, SURROUNDED BY HAY FIELDS, GRAZING CATTLE AND SHEEP. IT WOULD SEEM TO BE AN IMPROBABLE LOCATION FOR A PRESCHOOL, BUT IT’S FOUNDERS SAY IT OFFERS THE PERFECT ENVIRONMENT FOR A WALDORF EDUCATION. THE WALDORF PHILOSOPHY, DEVELOPED BY AUSTRIAN RUDOLF STEINER IN THE EARLY 20TH CENTURY, EMPHASIZES EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING BY LETTING CHILDREN PLAY AND USING THEIR IMAGINATIONS. DRAGONFLY WAS FOUNDED LAST YEAR BY A GROUP OF MANCOS-AREA FAMILIES, AND IT’S THE ONLY WALDORF PRESCHOOL IN SOUTHWEST COLORADO. A TYPICAL DAY BEGINS WITH OUTDOOR PLAY AND A NATURE WALK, FOLLOWED BY STORIES, SNACK TIME, CREATIVE PLAY AND A GROUP ACTIVITIY LIKE MAKING SOUP OR BREAD, THEN CLEANING UP AFTERWARD.YOU’RE TEACHING THEM ABOUT THE WORLD THROUGH PLAY AND THROUGH WORK. SO THEY SWEEP, WE’VE GOT SWEET BROOMS AND MOPS. AND SO THEY SWEEP AND THEY MOP AND THEY CLEAN UP AFTER THEMSELVES, A BIG PART OF OUR CURRICULUM AS THEY MAKE SNACK TOGETHER AND EAT IT. AND SO IT’S A SWEET THING. SO THERE’S LIKE THE PLAY KITCHEN AS WELL AS THE REAL KITCHEN IS. THEY, THEY MAKE THEIR SOUP FROM LOCAL VEGETABLES. THEY CHOP THEM UP TOGETHER SAFELY AND MAKE THE SOUP AND SHARE IT. AND THEY HAVE THE BLESSINGS TO GO WITH THAT AND BLESSING THE CANDLE. AND THERE’S ALL THIS CEREMONY THAT, IN RITUAL AND RHYTHM, THE CHILD FINDS THAT SAFETY THAT THEY CAN PREDICT WHAT’S NEXT. THEY KNOW IT’S SNACK TIME. AND THEN THEY KNOW THEY’RE GOING TO SING THIS SONG. AND THEN THEY PLAY WITH THE TEDDY BEAR AFTER THAT, THERE’S THAT RHYTHM. YOU WON’T FIND ANY PLASTIC TOYS OR PREFABRICATED PLAYHOUSES AT DRAGONFLY.  NATURE WALKS ON THE HILLSIDE AND A  VEGETABLE GARDEN ARE THE PLAYGROUND. TOYS ARE MADE FROM NATURAL MATERIALS TO STIMULATE TOUCH AND SENSES. AND CHILDREN ARE ALLOWED TO DISCOVER WITHOUT STRUCTURE, WHETHER IT’S THE SHAPE OF A FLOWER OR A CHANCE ENCOUNTER WITH A HORNED TOAD. AND I FEEL LIKE THEY ACTUALLY GET TO DEVELOP THEIR OWN IMAGINATION A LOT MORE. LIKE THEY GET TO PLAY UNINTERRUPTED. IT’S NOT ALWAYS A TEACHER COMING OVER AND ASKING, HEY, WHAT ARE YOU BUILDING? TELL ME ABOUT IT. WHAT ARE YOU DOING NEXT? IT’S JUST THEM PLAYING. STORY TIME IS ANOTHER EXERCISE IN IMAGINATION AND CREATIVITY WITH AN EMPHASIS ON READING FAIRY TALES, ONE OF THE FOUNDATIONS OF THE WALDORF METHOD.THEY’RE LEARNING HOW TO SPEAK BY SONGS AND STORIES. AND WE TELL FAIRY TALES. AND SO THEY’RE DEVELOPING LANGUAGE. WE’VE GOT A LOT OF CHILDREN COME THAT AREN’T, HAVEN’T HAD AS MUCH LANGUAGE AT HOME AND SOME HAVE HAD SO MUCH, SO THEY LEARN FROM EACH OTHER, BUT LITERATURE, STORYTELLING, THE FAIRY TALES TEACH THEM. THEY’RE THE PRECURSOR TO WRITING. AND SO THAT, THAT FOUNDATION IS ESTABLISHED HERE, THAT PASSION FOR LEARNIN, THE EXCITEMENT AND THE CURIOSITY AS THEY GO ON NATURE WALKS. THAT’S WHAT WE’RE TEACHING THEM HERE, WHICH IS THE FOUNDATION FOR LEARNING LATER IN LIFE THAT THEY WILL TAKE WITH THEM AS THEY GO INTO COLLEGE AND ONWARDS.DRAGONFLY ACCEPTS CHILDREN 2 AND A HALF TO 6 YEARS OF AGE, PART-TIME AND FULL-TIME SLOTS ARE AVAILABLE, AND THE PRESCHOOL STILL HAS OPENINGS. THE SCHOOL HAS DEVELOP PROTOCOLS TO ADDRESS PANDEMIC REGULATIONS WITH STAGGERED ARRIVAL TIMES AND MOST ACTIVITIES CONDUCTED OUTSIDE. CLASSES BEGIN ON MONDAY, AUGUST 17TH. IF YOU’D LIKE TO KNOW MORE ABOUT THE DRAGONFLY PRESCHOOL AND WALDORF EDUCATION, VISIT DRAGONFLY PRESCHOOL DOT ORG.THANKS FOR WATCHING THIS EDITION OF THE  LOCAL NEWS NETWORK. I’M WENDY GRAHAM SETTLE.

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