I think the Little Miss approves, which is great news!!
I start at the Waldorf on Thursday this week. This may all seem somewhat of a change of allegiance, but I have always felt that for the early years ie: birth - around 3, Waldorf is a wonderful environment for children to be in, so it isn't, I am as reinforced as ever about Montessori.
The group I am running is a parent and toddler group and we all work together in the room, making bread, doing handcrafts and observing the children, allowing them the freedom and independence to join in by first observing themselves and then participating. We also play games in a circle and share a snack together.
To me, this isn't too dissimilar to the Montessori environment that my children then moved onto bar the presence of the parent. I have often felt that this wonderful nurturing, parent-secure environment that is created for the first two or so years at the Waldorf, neatly merges into the need of the child to move onto more independence away from the adult and thus lies the prepared environment in the Montessori. I realise this is over simplistic, but I feel that there is some complement to these two very different educational methods as well as some very different ideas too.
This weekend I completed "The Silent Journey" at the Montessori. We spent the time observing all the classes (Toddler, Primary, Lower El, Upper El and the Middle school) in silence, reflecting on our observations. The second part of the weekend was spent being shown and being given the opportunities to use the materials in each of the rooms. It was a very humbling experience. I felt like I was almost being shown something forbidden as there was this strange sense of awe and almost loss looking at things that I had no idea how to use and then, after being shown how the tools produce the formula or results etc, having that real "a-ha!" moment! I have to say, I am actually envious of the opportunities the mini Beehives have at that school!
So returning to my original point about the morphing of Waldorfian ideas with the thoughts and philosophies that Maria Montessori had, I really feel that the idea of parent supported groups for babies through the time they would begin a toddler program, for me working in the Waldorf environment, neatly includes the need for attachment, the need of the child to observe the parent, the need to explore and be curious in a safe environment, the use of simple toys and the stretching of the mind, emphasis on sound and voice and a natural prepared environment.
Waldossori?? Not sure that anyone would buy it!