Whether it is hand-dipping beeswax candles, making “gnome homes” out of clay and natural materials, or making felted ornaments, there are numerous opportunities for hands-on fun at an upcoming holiday fair that has become a yearly tradition in the Kansas City area over the past decade.
The Winterlight Faire, held annually at Prairie Moon Waldorf School in Lawrence, is a family-friendly holiday open house that features unique gifts, food, entertainment, and crafts for both children and adults. In keeping with Prairie Moon’s “whole child” philosophy and nature-based curriculum for children in pre-K through middle school, the event celebrates the bringing of light into the darkest time of year and offers a slate of activities that showcase the unique aspects of Waldorf education, the fastest-growing independent private-school movement worldwide.
The 2019 Winterlight Faire will be from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, December 14 at the school’s campus at 1853 E. 1600 Rd. (about 5 minutes from the East Lawrence I-70 exit). There is a suggested donation of $10 per child/$20 per family to cover costs of crafting materials, such as beeswax and wicks for hand-dipped candles.
The event also includes unique hand-made toys for sale; children’s puppet shows at 10:30 a.m., Noon and 1:30 p.m.; musical performances; food, and complementary coffee from Z’s espresso in Lawrence. As an added value for Shawnee Mission Post readers, this month the school is offering a one-time $250 tuition credit for any families who newly enroll at Prairie Moon Waldorf School and mention this publication.
Waldorf education, which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year and was founded in 1919 by Rudolf Steiner, emphasizes the concept of “heads, hands, and heart,” promoting a balance of physical, mental, and spiritual well-being in students. Waldorf education seeks to foster individuals who are motivated to serve humanity with strength of will, depth of feeling, clarity of thought, and the ability to work with others. While avoiding the use of screen technology in the classroom and encouraging parents to limit children’s screen usage outside of school, Waldorf education opens up a world of meaningful and enriching “old school” activities and skills — knitting, woodworking, gardening, poetry, dance, chalk drawing, and retelling of ancient myths, to name a few — to those who are seeking an alternative form of schooling in today’s plugged-in educational world.
In a Waldorf early childhood program, ages 3-6, children experience a welcoming, homelike environment designed to preserve children’s sense of wonder and imagination, while providing them with a balanced school-day rhythm that inspires inward reflection and outward action. Common activities including counting games and rhythmic activities, songs, nursery rhymes, puppets, fairy tales and games, which are designed to cultivate familiarity with language, strengthen memory, imagination and listening skills while building the foundation for literacy. Students also perform fine-motor tasks such as watercolor painting, beeswax modeling and finger knitting, which helps develop motor skills, coordination and concentration.
Students in Prairie Moon’s older grades (1st-8th) study subjects including writing, reading, spelling, poetry and drama; folk and fairy tales, fables, legends/myths, world religion stories and ancient civilizations; natural sciences; and mathematical concepts. Students make their own textbooks by hand and experience many unique “only in Waldorf” activities, such as studying ancient Greek history and then competing against students from fellow Waldorf schools in a Greek pentathlon event, complete with togas, javelin and discus. At all levels, students receive ample time to play outdoors as a central part of each school day, and develop a special bond of mutual respect with their teachers.
“Waldorf made a big difference in my education by helping to improve my confidence and social skills at a young age,” says one former Prairie Moon student we surveyed, who went on to become co-valedictorian of her 2019 high-school graduating class in Lawrence.
Says another alum who is currently a senior in high school and plans to study genetics, “Waldorf education is a great choice for anyone wanting to raise their child in a way that allows them to become a more independent thinker.”
According to another alum who recently received a full-tuition college scholarship to study plant biology at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, “Probably the biggest thing I gained from Waldorf education was a love and appreciation for the outdoors. All the time we got to spend outdoors has really influenced me.”
Today there are more than 1,000 independent Waldorf schools worldwide, including 137 in the United States. Prairie Moon, founded in 2001, currently serves nearly 70 students from early childhood through middle school, and is the only school to offer Waldorf education in Kansas.