Zhuhai – Waldorf Education in Southeast China
China: The former fishing village, which today is the metropolitan city of Zhuhai, is located in the coastal province of Huangdong (South China). Since 2007, a group of people is involved there to promote Waldorf education. As a result two kindergartens have developed - the Sunny Yard and the Love kindergarten - and the first classes of a little Waldorf school (Wooden House School) have been established. Just recently these three initiatives were united in order to promote the development of a Waldorf school with combined forces. The now existing School is called Zhuhai Chuntong School.
Already for centuries, a festival is being celebrated on the 15th Day of the eighth month of the traditional Chinese calendar. In ancient times it was a habit to sacrifice the sun in spring and the moon in autumn. Thanks to the Tang Dynasty (618-907) the tradition has found a form of continuation up to today with the celebration of the annual Moon Festival.
There are various mythological legends concerning the origin of the festival. Many of them tell the story of a lady that dances on the back of the moon on the day of the Moon Festival and during the year she does not look as beautiful as on this exact date. Another story tells how the moon lady came to Earth in the shape of a rabbit in order to help the sick - and this is the story presented as a puppet show to the astonished children and parents of Sunny Yard kindergarten as a crowning finale of the Moon Festival.
The Sunny Yard Kindergarten is one of the two nurseries in Zhuhai. Its teachers and educators all have the EC Waldorf Certificate. The second kindergarten in Zhuhai works under similar circumstances, with the children being divided into two groups according to age. It is located in an old villa with a large garden and many fruit trees.
Each morning and afternoon a little time for free play in the garden belongs to the daily routine of the children, as the educators need to maintain the garden and care for the various animals. For the children who almost entirely live in high-rise buildings, this proximity to nature is very exciting. And therefore they not only play, but also watch the adults in order to find out how all life in the garden must be taken care of day after day.
During the last weeks of 2009 it was decided to unite Love Kindergarten and the small school (Wooden House School) - a first step to a unified Waldorf movement in Zhuhai. At the same time the process of figuring out a framework that allows an official recognition of a regular Waldorf school was started. This is very important, as the kindergarten as well as the small school, experience a promising growth with long waiting lists. Every three weeks there is a staff meeting, in order to work with the ideas of Waldorf education and so one can hope that there will soon be a recognized Waldorf school in Zhuhai.
The final step to a unified Waldorf initiative was made with the decision to unite Love-Wooden House and Sunny Yard kindergarten in summer 2010. And therefore, now there is a school called Zhuhai Chuntong School, located in a beautiful garden environment with a tea-tree-hill. Currently 36 children attend the kindergarten in two groups, 10 children participate in a parent/child group and 12 children study in the two grades of the school.