Rudolf Steiner believed that there are three stages of development from infancy to adulthood. Creative Play he believed, played a critical role in a child's development.
The first stage is up to seven years of age when the child is sensitive to the surrounding environment and responds through the 'will'. This implies that learning takes place through doing, which is from movement and activity. The child is driven by what he is exposed to in the environment, as well as through the imitation and example of others around him. The second stage from seven to fourteen years is when children live in the emotional realm and develop an understanding of the feelings for life. The third stage from fourteen to twenty one years is when the individual is in the realm of ideas. These three stages constitute an education where the will (doing), the heart (feeling), and the head (thinking) are at the forefront during the developmental stages to adulthood (Bruce, 2011).
During the stage of the 'will', Steiner kindergartens foster a child's imagination and sense of wonder. This is done through story telling, pentatonic songs, imaginative play, everyday home activities, and nature play. Physical and social skills are developed in an environment where children are not cognitively challenged. The emphasis for developing a strong foundation for intellectual learning takes place only after the first seven years. Numeracy and literacy skills are built during this period in the early years through oral language interaction and practical learning experiences, and not by any instructional educational practices. Play based learning involves the habit of children taking action on their own from the opportunities provided by the early childhood teachers. Through this love of action, "The children will have a further habit, the habit of self-direction, and through creative play will have discovered the joy of creativity, the habit of seeking creative solutions to the challenges they meet, to be able to imagine alternatives" (Oldfield, 2009, p. 58).
This is an excerpt from an article by Cyrus for further reading click here
Bruce, T. (2011). Early Childhood Education. Bookpoint Ltd.: Oxon, UK.
Oldfield, L. (2009). Free to Learn. Introducing Steiner Waldorf Early Childhood Education. Hawthorn Press: Gloucestershire, UK.