The kindergarten meets the needs of the children in the first developmental phase of life.
The kindergarten teachers’ aim is to create a secure physical and emotional space in which children can experience the goodness of the world and become absorbed in free imaginative play, which is the real work in childhood.
Kindergarten Opening Hours: 9am-3.15pm, term time only
The minimum number of days children can attend the Kindergarten, are 3 half days per week (mornings only). We do expect children to increase their attendance over the course of the first term.
Half days: 9am-12.15pm (excluding lunch), or 9am-1pm (including lunch)
Social Life – Kindergarten is a warm homely environment providing physical and emotional security through the rhythms and routines of the day and through self directed play. It is the first seven year cycle of life, when the ‘will’ predominates and ‘doing’ is the essential feature. The rhythms and routines of the day provide structure and security and allow the child to ‘live in’, what is for this age a naturally dreamy and relaxed state. The mood is directed away from anything intellectual. Imitation is the key feature of the kindergarten experience. The Kindergarten environment supports and fosters the child’s natural inclination to imitate. These features in themselves have a therapeutic element.
Free Play – The children are given the chance to experience genuine childhood. True free play, inside and out, is self initiated and leads to total engagement for prolonged periods. It provides natural ‘resistance’ and challenges both physical and emotional. This whole process allows each child to meet these challenges at their own level and in their own time. Example: Whole body Balancing, ‘Big building (using tables, chairs, clothes horses, logs etc). These activities demand development of gross motor and a high level of manipulation skills. Children access fine motor skills at their own paces.
It is the experience of teachers and parents that this activity is developmental, supporting and encouraging at the child’s own pace without pressure or expectation of outcome. Adults are engaged at a level of observation, which is not critical or judgmental. Within this mood, the aim of intervention is to be minimal and only to the extent that it is productive to the child’s development and confidence. Themes are generated by the children themselves eg. house, shop, train, story etc).
Ring Time – This is an adult led activity, involving seasonal songs Rhymes, social games inspired by nature. Children participate through involvement, sharing and imitation. They experience a whole range of expression and language through movement, finger games, stepping, jumping as well as music and drama. There is a continual changing mood of activity between stillness and tranquility to vigorous action. There is no pressure for a child to do more than they are ready to do.
Activity of the day – Activities include baking, painting, gardening, bread-making, wax modeling, drawing and seasonal cooking. Woodwork is also an occasional feature. These activities are prepared by the adults but can be freely observed by, and when appropriate, shared with the children. The children experience the whole process. These activities involve a varying range of motor control. They provide a natural interface for a growing development of knowledge and understanding of the world.
Story time – Children sit in a circle, a candle is lit and the mood is set. Stories are told not read. This activity reflects the aural traditions that are embedded in all world cultures and are inclusive.
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 the EYFS in the Guide to the EYFS in Steiner Kindergartens which you will find in your kindergarten or on http://www.steinerwaldorf.org. 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 the Steiner Waldorf early childhood principles and practice, we have received some ‘Exemptions and Modifications’ to the EYFS Learning and Development requirements and Assessment regulations under the ‘Established Principles’ route. 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).