Kindergarten: Early Childhood Program

Multi-Age Kindergarten Program Overview (ages 2 to 6 )

Core program: 8:30 am - 2 pm, Monday - Thursday

Optional Friday Forest Kindergarten - see below

At World Family School the essence of our work is to nurture and protect the innocence and innate wonder of early childhood.  Working from Rudolf Steiner’s insights on child development, we strive to allow the potential of each child to unfold. Our kindergarten environment develops the growing child’s senses, imagination, physical body and awareness of self and others in a nurturing, rhythmical, and homelike environment full of love, warmth and joy.  The child is secure in the feeling that he or she is loved.  This creates the basis for healthy development and brings forth the child’s reverence and joy for living.  

We have a mixed-age kindergarten, where children from two years old to six years old share the day together from 8:30am to 2:00pm. This age range gives children many opportunities to share in the experience of a large, extended family.

Our program is based upon the concepts of imitation, rhythm, and creative play.  The name "Kindergarten" means “children’s garden.”  This is the image that we choose to carry on behalf of the young child: a place where childhood is considered a valid and honorable experience, not a time to be rushed toward adulthood.  In the Kindergarten, a child will gradually become accustomed to working within a group, listening to stories, interacting with a teacher, and following a daily routine, while at the same time being aided in his or her development as an individual through the encouragement of creative play, practical life skills, and artistic opportunities.  We deeply understand the young child and the need for movement, as well as the child’s devotion to learning about the world through imitating everything he or she experiences (hence our striving to be worthy of imitation).  Here are some of the core activities of our Early Childhood Program and the significance of each in relationship to lifelong learning.  

Please note that a child’s participation will depend on their age.  The youngers are happiest playing.  As they get older their participation will increase.  

Circle Time

The class is brought together to sing songs and recite verses with the teacher.  These may be connected with the seasons, a particular fairy tale or story, or just part of the general lore of childhood.  Circle time also includes developmental movement activities to accompany the songs and verses.  Repeating and remembering verses sets the stage for the more intense memory work that will be required in elementary school.  Repetition is lauded as a foundation for healthy brain development.  Rhyming sounds and alliteration found in poems and songs educate the ear, forming the beginnings of spelling and phonics.  Directed movement is another basis for healthy brain development.  

Craft and Artistic Activities

Wet-on-wet watercolor painting, beeswax modeling, crayon drawing, as well as various forms of handwork such as finger knitting, simple sewing, and woodworking are done as group activities or at the individual initiative of the older kindergarten child.  These activities encourage the child’s natural sense of beauty, color, and form, as well as laying the groundwork for artistic techniques that will be needed later.  They also aid in the development of fine motor skills.

Creative Play

Play is at the center of our Early Childhood program. Through imaginative free play children develop their individuality, make sense of the world and develop artistic and creative abilities which promote healthy brain development, imaginative thinking and a capacity for concentration. The children have a long period of time each day during which they imagine and play with a wide variety of natural materials and playthings, following their own initiative.

A hallmark of Waldorf Early Childhood Education is that all of the academic skills the children learn are embedded in the experiential curriculum and learned through play, and practical and meaningful activities: building rich vocabulary in Circle Time, counting for setting the snack table, observing the changes in seasons, and categorizing objects during tidy up time.

During the play time, the teachers are involved in meaningful work - preparing lunch and snack, sewing, cleaning, making toys, gardening or any number of practical activities.  The children are always welcome to participate.  An atmosphere of work and play permeates our garden and classroom.  Within the activities of play, children integrate the world and practice their life skills such as movement and balance, sensory integration, speech and language capacity, social and emotional interactions, and imaginative and cognitive development.  

Festivals

We mark the rhythms of the year through the changing seasons and the coming and going of festivals.  As the year weaves from one season and festival to another, we are provided with a true reason for preparation and celebration.  For the young child, the preparation is half of the joy.  They love decorating the room, creating handcrafts, baking special treats, and learning songs and verses chosen just for that particular festival.  The stories that are told give the children a pictorial understanding of the festivals, and speak deeply to them, so that we do not need to make explanations.  Each room has a nature table which changes with the seasons, bringing into the room a way for the children to celebrate these changes.  You might like to let your child have a small table, shelf, or windowsill to create his or her own nature table at home with treasures from walks and outings.  Please mark your calendar and plan to bring the whole family to our school festivals.  You can find the dates on the school calendar which is also found on our website.

Nature-based education lies at the heart of our approach with daily walks and plenty of time for playin our Garden. Every day, rain, snow or shine Mother Nature offers the greatest playground of all and a myriad of opportunities for play, learning, vigorous movement, amazement, freedom and reverence!  The nurturing of a child’s senses through outdoor experiences and activities is cherished in the early years.  Indeed it is crucial!  Children deeply experience sunlight and darkness, sparkling frosts, muddy puddles, and clear blue skies. A child's experience of nature play lays the foundation for later studies of plants and animals, the weather, geology, astronomy, and other natural sciences. Extensive outdoor experiences also hone the child’s observation skills.

Forest Day 

On Fridays we offer a Nature immersion outdoor program.  Held entirely in the forest, rain, snow or shine, this program is an opportunity to support children to be healthy, develop bonds with the earth, and prepare for formal schooling.

Lunch The teachers and children share a wholesome, organic, homemade family-style lunch.  It is likely that the children have also helped to prepare the food and set the table.  Afterwards, they help clear the table and wash their dishes.  An emphasis on gratitude for the food and on table manners sets the stage for lifelong social skills.  Expression of gratitude for the simple gifts of everyday life builds a foundation of appreciation and respect for our environment.  

Story Time

Children hear a story every day told directly by the teacher.  Stories are often followed by or sometimes told along with a puppet show.  The ability to sit and listen to an adult for a sustained period of time is a skill that is gradually developed.  The oral tradition of language arts development in Waldorf Schools and the content of the stories expose the children to the beauty of language and literacy.  

Rhythms

Children are carried along by the rhythms of the world they live in, from the rhythms of breathing in their bodies, to the daily rhythms of sleeping and waking.  The yearly cycle of the seasons and the rhythmic procession of stars across the heavens are both part of life’s experience for adults and children.  The Waldorf view is that children flourish when their daily activities reflect the natural order of life with a rhythmic arrangement of the day. A consistent daily rhythm promotes security and trust, an opportunity for repetition.  It balances a child’s need for energetic free play with engaging, structured teacher- led educational activities.

Just as children are carried along by the regular rhythms of the school day, they are also nourished by the regular routine at home.  As difficult as it is in modern life to establish regular mealtimes and bedtimes, we strongly encourage you to do so.  

Mixed age range fosters a secure relationship with the primary caregiver over time, allows children varied social options and provides opportunities for rites of passage as each child grows older. The younger children admire their older classmates and anticipate growing themselves. The older children become helpers and develop nurturing qualities that will serve them well throughout life.  

Meal Time

Your child will be nourished with organic homemade lunches and snacks foods. Sharing a lunch and snack together is a favorite time of the day. Children help to prepare and  set up the table. Our nutrient dense lunch and snack features a grain of the day and includes legumes, vegetables and oils. Special diets are always accommodated.

Waldorf education - teaching thru the arts

Beauty, comfort, security, and connection to the living world of nature form the basis for what in Waldorf education is called “Living Arts:”

Domestic arts, Science and Practical skills  

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A natural science curriculum is all around them, as the children are born observers! Mud, clay, soil, flowers, vegetables growing in the garden; trees, air, clouds, rain and snow are their teachers. Seasonal activities – cider making and harvesting in the fall, candle making in the winter, planting or sheeps wool carding in spring – each season has its curriculum.

They learn to use the tools that assist with these activities: shovels, wheelbarrows, rakes, garden hand tools, grain grinders, a butter churn, wool carders. Teachers model and guide all these activities through practical use. Children find joy in imitating the practical and meaningful activities of daily life, feel the success of making a difference through real, meaningful work, laying a foundation for future academic skills, initiative and purpose.

They gain strength and skill as they play and work.

Creative Arts

The child’s imagination is nurtured as a great treasure: singing through the day, poems, stories and circle games tune the child’s ear to the beauty of language, develop a capacity for listening,, and lays the foundation for  literacy skills and music making. Told and sang by the teacher they arise out of our daily rhythm.   

Watercolor painting and crayoning, craft activities celebrate each season: lanterns, baking projects, felting, egg dyeing, simple finger knitting all enrich the children’s year,  fostering self expression,

Nurturing Arts

Your child will be nourished with organic homemade lunches and snack foods, hair brushing, calming foot baths, gentle use of essential oils, daily outdoor time, and rest.

Social Arts

Through their self-initiated play children learn the social arts of taking turns, negotiating conflicts, solving problems, sharing goals, observing the differences, and learning to move beyond disappointment. The teachers make great efforts to nurture and develop the children’s sense of themselves as social beings. A feeling of social inclusion is key to a child’s happiness and success in school, and the conscious development of social skills from an early age may be one of the most lasting benefits of a Waldorf education.

 

Daily rhythm

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8:30-8:45 Arrival and Greeting circle with parents, Mother Earth’s Tea shop

8:45-9:30 Walk for Kindergarteners

9:30-10:30  Play and work in the Garden

10:30-11:00 Circle time

11:00-11:30 Washing hands, Lunch

11:30 -1:00  Play and work indoors, Rest, Story time

1:00-2:00 Snack, outdoor play

2:00 Pick-up and Goodbyes