• WSP

The Experience of Early Literacy

Updated: Mar 9

While formal reading and writing instruction begins in the 1st Grade at the Waldorf School of Princeton, our Early Childhood classrooms provide an unmatched “experience” of language that focuses on building healthy and strong foundations for literacy in our students.


Playing Their Way to Literacy



The play-based, experiential curriculum invites students in our Early Childhood preschool and kindergarten classes to use, practice, and experiment with language through their own imaginative stories during their play times. In this way, they are learning to “write” a story with their peers - experimenting with beginnings, middles, ends, characters, conflicts, resolutions - all acted out as a collaboration among classmates. A preschool play yard might have a “busy restaurant” in the sandbox, with roles assigned, a flurry of “orders” coming in and out of the mud kitchen, rushed to the “customers” by “cooks and servers.”


High-Quality Language Experiences


There are also more structured moments of the Early Childhood day where teachers model rich, fluent language through storytelling, poems and songs, and puppet shows that feature high-level vocabulary and special attention to the annunciation and the sounds of our words (vocabulary development, rhythm and rhyme, fluency, phonological and phonemic awareness are all building blocks for literacy). Most often, the teachers will repeat these stories, songs, fingerplays, and puppet shows over the course of days or several weeks, to promote memory and recall, as well as reinforcing the vocabulary, phrasing, and fluency as students excitedly demonstrate their mastery of knowing all of the words “by heart.”


Moving Along to Learning



Adding to all of this are many wonderful opportunities for movement, both child-initiated and teacher-led, that connect the body and brain and promote connections for literacy. Whether our students are indoors or outdoors, they use their whole bodies to play and learn. In addition to running, climbing, jumping, skipping, swinging and all of the good gross motor experiences our little ones have throughout their day, guided rhythm and movement activities during classroom circle time brings songs, poems, and stories to life for our Early Childhood students. The accompanying movements and gestures of a seasonal poem are key to the students’ recall of the words and phrases in the poem, highlighting the important connection between moving and learning.


In these ways, and so many more, our Early Childhood program prepares the fertile ground for the seeds of literacy to take root, grow and flourish into well-rounded readers, writers, and speakers in the later Grade School program. To learn more about our school’s approach to Literacy and the developmentally-based, experiential curriculum at the Waldorf School of Princeton, visit www.princetonwaldorf.org or contact our Admissions Office to book a tour!







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