Educational Philosophy

Waldorf, Steiner and Lifeways

Based on the educational philosophy of Rudolph Steiner, the first Waldorf school was opened in 1919.  Steiner believed in educating the whole child; head, heart, and hands.  In early childhood, there is an emphasis on rhythm, songs, storytelling, free play and the arts.  The Lifeways principles are based on Steiner's theories of early education.  Little Garden by the Sea is a Lifeways aligned program.


  • Movement/play curriculum emphasizes child-initiated activities that promote healthy musculoskeletal development, providing opportunities for unstructured, spontaneous movement in a safe environment. Traditional games and finger-plays provide opportunities for the children to imitate healthy movement, develop proprioception and increase both their small and large motor skills.

  • The children go outside in all but the most inclement weather. This helps them become more robust and strengthens their bond with the environment in which they live. 

  • Emphasis is placed on practical life skills such as building, gardening, cleaning, cooking, washing, repairing, and sewing, among other things.

  • Lifeways practices are based upon the fundamental need for relationship-based care (bonding and continuity), neurological research, and recognition of living arts (domestic, nurturing, creative and social arts) as central to the advancement of children’s social, emotional and intellectual skills. Child guidance is based on the L.O.V.E. Approach to Discipline which includes Listening, Laughter, Order, Objectivity, Versatility, Vulnerability, Energy and Enthusiasm.

  • Emphasis is on loving human interaction with warm speech, live singing, verses, and stories rather than technology. 

  • Foundation for lifelong literacy is fostered through storytelling and puppetry, individual lap time with a book, through poetry, verse, and music on a daily basis, through drama, and through the daily interactions of play and movement in a healthy, secure environment.

  • We provide the best in natural, organic foods (whenever this is possible) and involve the children in the food preparation.

  • Festivals and celebrations, honoring the various cultural backgrounds of the families, as well as traditional seasonal festivals and birthday parties, are offered.

For further reading on Waldorf and Lifeways please refer to the links below:

Lifeways North America

Waldorf Early Childhood association of North America

Loris Melaguzzi and The Reggio Emilia Approach

Developed by Loris Melaguzzi in Reggio Emilia, Italy, the Reggio Emilia approach is a teaching philosophy in which the curriculum is emergent and develops around the children and their interests.  The five main principles of the Reggio Emilia Approach are:

  • The image of the child-  The children are viewed as competent, creative, and curious scientists who are active participants in their education.

  • Teachers and parents as co-learners- The teachers and parents work side by side with the children in the learning process; listening to their questions and helping guide them to answers.  Projects and provocations are created that follow the children's interests.

  • Classroom as the "3rd teacher"- The classroom environment is an integral part of the Reggio experience.  Loris Melaguzzi stated the classroom should be "a living organism, a place of shared relationships among the children, the teachers and the parents and a feeling of belonging in a world that is alive, welcoming and authentic".

  • Documentation-  The learning process should be documented through transcribing the children's thoughts, displaying their work, and through photos the teacher takes.  This way, the children, their parents, and the teachers can follow the learning process.  Documentation also shows the children their work is of value.  

  • The hundred languages of children- The children have endless ways of expressing themselves, infinite ways of thinking, of problem-solving and of learning, and they should be given the opportunity to explore each and every one of those languages.

For further information on the Reggio Emilia Approach:

Reggio Children


Reggio Emilia: in a nut shell