“If a child has been able in his play to give up
his whole being to the world around him,
he will be able in the serious tasks of later life
to devote himself with confidence and power
to the service of the world.”
— Rudolf Steiner
In the Pre-School and Kindergarten years, great emphasis is placed on the development of a strong and deeply-rooted creative capacity. The overall environment, the unique play materials, and the chosen activities all contribute to fostering the child’s natural powers of wonder and fantasy. For instance, the play materials are chosen so as to allow the greatest amount of the child’s own imagination to come into play. The more possible uses for a toy, the better. When the child is required to really “clothe” his play materials with his own powers of imagination, the truly living forces within him become activated.
Another important aspect in the development of a strong imaginative life is the use of Fairy Tales. The art of storytelling is really alive in the Kindergarten as the Fairy Tales are told, rather than read, by the teacher. The child’s imagination is active because the pictures need to be created inwardly as the story unfolds. The young child experiences the world more pictorially than the logical mind of the adult, and Fairy Tales provide an inner nourishment because they contain archetypal truths about the world in picture form.
Small children are beings of will and imitation, identifying themselves with each gesture, intonation, mood, and thought in their environment, and making these their own in the free activity of creative, imaginative play. It is the kindergarten teachers’ task to create an environment worthy of a small childs unquestioning imitation and to educate the childs unconscious through the warmth, clarity, rhythm, and harmony of the world she/he creates and with which the child so actively identifies.
Given the right environment and encouragement, the young child exhibits a fountain of creativity never again to be equaled in the course of his/her life. Deepening this capacity prepares the proper ground for a truly alive and mobile thinking to emerge.