THE KINDERGARTEN JOURNEY
The Kindergarten caters for 4, 5 and 6 year olds in an environment that allows the children to learn through imitation and with activities that highlight the creative and skilful, truth and beauty.
The Kindergarten teacher sees the Kindy as a place where children can develop and grow in strength through stable rhythm and routine before meeting the intellectual, technological and material challenges of the later years.
Opportunities are created to experience the wonder and beauty of the changing seasons, and to celebrate the festivals of the year. These celebrations bring Kindergarten and families together, thereby fostering and enriching the rhythm of the year in the child’s daily life.
We begin structured Kindergarten sessions in the year in which the child turns four. (December birthdays wait till the year in which they turn five) The four year old’s attend 2 half-day sessions per week, finishing with lunch eaten together.
The children then enter a mixed age kindergarten room where as five and six year old’s they progress through a play based curriculum with indoor and outdoor play, story time, singing, movement activities and craft.
The five year old’s may attend full days on Mondays Tuesdays and Wednesdays, with half days on Thursdays and Fridays.
The six year old’s attend five full days per week, with an early close on Thursdays. Each Kindergarten has its own daily and weekly rhythm, however they share similar routines.
An example of the Kindergarten day is as follows:
• Arrival – the children are warmly greeted by their teacher and the teacher’s assistant, then it’s time for outside play.
• Morning tea – the children help set the table with flowers, mugs, bowls and food, and after thanking the earth, sun and rain sit at the table and eat together.
• Circle time – we move and work through songs and poems that make fingers nimble, our movements flowing and voices rhythmical.
• After closing with a warmly familiar rhyme we tip toe to our indoor play – serious work for children – preparing afternoon tea for the dolls, making tunnels and cubbies where imaginative ideas can be shared or treasures taken; building a boat to sail the seas and more. Also each morning an enriching activity is offered – for example, baking on Thursdays, painting on Tuesdays.
• Story – after play the children gather for a story or puppet show.
• Lunch is prepared for and enjoyed together by the children and their teachers.
• Quiet time and rest time is observed before the afternoon programme where more structured sessions such as Woodwork, Singing and Games are introduced to the older children.
Parent and Baby Group
This group serves the need of new parents to meet each other in a warm atmosphere, sharing knowledge of the child’s first months. Our facilitator brings a wealth of experience in mothercraft and Steiner early childhood development to the group, and holds parent and baby in a space of warmth, reverence and acceptance.
Participation in Playgroup introduces parents and children to Steiner education, which is based on the philosophy of Rudolph Steiner. Our Playgroups are designed for cater for 3 year old’s and their parents, with some 2 year old’s joining the groups during the year, subject to their age and the availability of places. Children attend one 2 hour session per week along with their parent.
Up to the age of 4, the child is not yet separate from the parent. Waldorf Playgroups allow children to become engaged in worthwhile play and quiet activity with other children, without losing the security of their parent or guardian.
The atmosphere of Waldorf Playgroups is warm, gentle and enfolding. The children are surrounded with calming pastel colours and natural materials, such as hand-made dolls, wooden toys and blocks, silk scarves, gumnuts and shells. This encourages creative and imaginative play and develops a sensitivity to and respect for nature.
Other activities further enhance this, such as cooking, gardening and painting. Nothing is taken for granted; for example, at morning tea we form a circle and give thanks to the earth and sun for our fruit and water. The environment and play equipment is respected and cared for by the adults assisted by the children, offering the gesture of care for the children to faithfully imitate.
Fairy tales and nature stories told by candlelight, music, song and the celebration of the seasons and festivals bring the children and parents together to share folk wisdom and experience the rhythms of the year.
Readiness for Class 1
The year the child turns 7 they will be in Class 1 to begin their 6 year journey with a Class Teacher. Our activities and approach support the development of the young child in readiness for more formal learning in the Primary School. We work to develop and strengthen the natural development of the child through the use of language, song, story telling and listening, fine and gross motor skills through meaningful craft and artistic work, problem-solving through curiosity and the joy of discovery.
Parents play a strong and valuable role in the Waldorf School life and the Kindergarten provides for this through parent talks, discussion groups, craft workshops, involvement in festival celebrations and home visits.