A Steiner-Waldorf education in Cebu
St. Michael’s Play Garden, a small preschool in Banilad, is the only school that offers Steiner-Waldorf education in Cebu.
“Here in St. Michael’s, everything is done through human interaction. No technology, no books, and no pens. Children are not taught. They learn,” school co-founder Grace C. Ferreros said at the sidelines of the school’s family day last week.
Since 2011, more than 100 pupils have graduated from the school, which started with only seven pupils in its first year of operations.
Now, the school also offers a home-school program on top of its regular and after-school programs in art, crafts and music.
“Parents from different countries contact us. They get to know us through the Internet when they search about play schools or if they know about the Steiner-Waldorf education, they find us since we’re the only Steiner-Waldorf school in Cebu,” Ferreros said.
St. Michael’s is also going to open next month a drop-in day care center, situated beside the school along Coast Pacific St. in St. Michael’s Village in Banilad.
A satisfied parent, Sheila Roek, said she enrolled her son last year so he could socialize and play with kids his own age.
“Compared to other schools that teach math and science at a very early age, for me it’s not what the child needs. You can learn all those things all the time of your life but a child has to be a child. And my child needs to play and get dirty,” she said.
Ferreros said she co-founded the first Waldorf Kindergarten in Paradise Village in 1998 because she wanted a school that practices play for her son.
“I am strongly advocating this philosophy because I wanted a good education for my son. But when I saw the benefits from all the children who came to our first kindergarten, I saw that they had a great development of character,” Ferreros said.
She co-founded St. Michael’s Play Garden and Kids Life Foundation in July 2011, based on the philosophy espoused by Austrian artist and philosopher Rudolf Steiner.
“Receive the children with respect, teach them with love, and let them go forth in freedom—as what Steiner always says. And this has also become our motto here in the school,” Ferreros said.
The school gives premium on the development of a child’s imagination and creativity, which is not emphasized in other schools.
The children are not “over-praised” and are allowed to play freely.
“Most of us parents grew up in traditional schools, where you always follow children and tell them what to do. Ours, in some way is opposite, we allow the child to
play, so some parents would say, ’How come they’re not taking care of my child?’” Ferreros said.
“We are actually taking care of the children as a group, because we want the child to blend naturally with the others,” she added.
About 15 pupils, the youngest at six months old, are currently enrolled in the school. St Michael’s offers classes for ages 1.5 to 6 years old and will continue to add grade levels as the student population advances in age.
The family day last week included indoor free play, baking, cooking demo of a Japanese lunchbox, fruit tea preparation, Lazure painting, circle time, outdoor games, storytelling and a community dance./ PIT Intern, Bianca Genosa
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