“The classrooms have a calm and quiet atmosphere which supports good creative play. This play is used well to promote learning and development and good use is made of stories. The children are polite and respect one another.
The children are very confident and capable. They organise their play well. Their behaviour is generally good and they show consideration for one another.
Daily routines encourage good behaviour, a sense of security and children’s confidence.
They treat children as individuals and seek to support their learning and development unobtrusively, using the class routines and procedures to emphasise the high value they place upon individuals. This enables them to match the work to individual children’s needs, so enabling them to make progress. In turn, this is supported by the parents.” SIS Report, 2018
The young child between the ages of 3 and 6 years loves to imitate the adults around her and this healthy imitation is recognised by the Waldorf Kindergarten teacher as the focus for the child’s learning during these early years. The young child, as she grows into her body, lives particularly in her will activity and learns enthusiastically through doing.
A clear daily and weekly rhythm blending into the wider rhythms of Festivals and Seasons brings a sense of belonging and security to each child;
- Each morning when the children arrive they are invited to join the activity of the day. This may be painting, craft, bread making, or drawing.
- Alongside this activity children are free to play (facilitated but not led by the teacher).
- Then the children all help to tidy up.
- This is followed by circle time, in which the teacher leads the children in an activity which can include poetry, music, movement, and singing.
- After circle time, the children and teachers enjoy a snack which they have prepared together earlier.
- Then the children play outside for an hour.
- The morning usually ends with story-time around a lighted candle before the children greet their parents.
We strive for a warm, homely atmosphere in the Kindergartens, and natural rather than synthetic materials are chosen for the children’s play and use.
The environment created in the kindergarten is as far as possible a beautiful one, within which the children can explore the richness of their own imagination.
It is for this reason that finished or mechanical toys are perceived as inappropriate, and the use of tape-recorded or televised material is counter-productive to the healthy imitation we wish to foster in the children.
THE STATUTORY EYFS AND EXEMPTIONS
The Statutory Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) Birth – 5 years, applies to all settings including ours. It sets out both learning and development requirements and safeguarding and welfare requirements for children from birth to 31 August following their fifth birthday. You can find out more about how we meet the requirements of the EYFS in the EYFS/Steiner Interpretation and Read-over and other documents which you will find in your kindergarten. You can also find a Parent’s guide to the EYFS on the government website http://www.foundationyears.org.uk
Because there are areas which conflict with Steiner Waldorf early childhood principles and practice, we have received some ‘Exemptions and Modifications’ to the EYFS Learning and Development requirements under the ‘Established Principles’ route for Steiner Waldorf settings. These are mostly to do with the introduction and in some cases formal teaching of reading, writing, mathematics and use of IT/media and electronic gadgetry. There is no exemption from the safeguarding and welfare requirements. (See list of Exemptions and Modifications in the kindergarten).
London Steiner School’s early childhood approach takes as given the interdependence of physical, emotional, social, spiritual and cognitive development. It takes account of the whole child, including his/her soul qualities, and believes that children’s learning flourishes in a calm, peaceful, predictable, familiar and unhurried environment that recognises the child’s sensory sensitivities. Young children need to experience the relevance of their world before they separate themselves from it and begin to analyse it in a detached way.
Learning gains meaning by its relevance to life and should not be separated from the business of daily living. The learning experience of children under the age of seven, therefore, is integrated and not subject-based. Mathematics and use of mathematical language, for example, might take place at the cooking table, where food is prepared (thinly sliced carrots make wonderful natural circles and have the added virtue of being able to be eaten later in soup!) and concepts such as addition and subtraction (or more or less), weight, measure, quantity and shape are grasped in a practical manner as part of daily life. Children are able to tell a story by ‘reading’ the pictures in a book, which develops verbal skills, frees the narrative from the printed text and encourages children to use their own words. Many children also act out or perform puppet shows and develop dramatic skills by working with narrative and dialogue in an artistic way. The conversations around the meal table give the children the opportunity to become familiar with listening and speaking, rhyming and riddles. Painting and drawing help with balance and symmetry and craft activities also develop fine motor skills. The integration of these activities cultivates a love of language, develops speech and allows children time to become really familiar with the spoken word – the foundation of literacy.
Curriculum for the Final Year of Kindergarten
Children over 5 are of statutory school age, and should be attending kindergarten full time (in full time education). We recognise that they need a more challenging experience, including raised expectations from the adults in the setting and a programme of work appropriate to their age, (Key Stage 1 in other school settings). In a Steiner school ‘formal education’ begins in Class 1. While there will be some activities and projects specifically for the 5 & 6 year olds, what is of paramount importance are the staff’s higher expectations of the older children relating to collaborating and contributing to the kindergarten community in a structured and reliable way.
We have now collated all of this into curriculum documents for those children of statutory school age. This shows progression from the EYFS, differentiation, what we expect of the older children and what and how they will learn through the curriculum provided. These documents are available in the kindergarten.
Parents will be kept informed of their child’s developmental progress throughout their time in the kindergarten and will be asked to contribute to the observations and information about their child. (See policy on Observations and Assessment).
“Formal learning of the three Rs does not feature in the Steiner/Waldorf early childhood curriculum, in the belief that a child will learn these skills more effectively if she/he has had plenty of time and opportunity to develop socially, emotionally and physically, first in a creative, secure, enabling and harmonious environment rich in hands-on activity and play and where language and communication are enabled through a rich oral tradition.” Steiner Waldorf Schools Fellowship
In London Steiner School early years settings, our older children take part in extra-curricular teacher-led activities known as daily work, where the children work on a focused project that has an appropriate time frame.
- Practical & Social: Creative play, daily teacher-led activities, eg: drawing, baking, craft, beeswax modelling, gardening, woodwork and outside play.
- Artistic: Painting, drawing, doll making, weaving, various sewing projects.
- Oracy & Pre-literacy skills: Rhymes, poems and verses, movement, painting (pen hold), line drawing., special books.
- Numeracy: Sorting, counting, weighing, playing shops, folding clothes, setting table for snack or festivals, counting and organising chairs for story time.
- Technology: Making apple juice using a manual juicer, grinding grain in a hand grinder
- Nature Study: Walks, gardening, seasonal festivals, trips out.
Learning gains meaning when it bears relevance to real life experiences, the learning experience for children under the age of seven in our early years settings is therefore integrated and not subject based.