The Early Years curriculum is structured to respond to and enhance the first seven years of childhood. It is considered vital to preserve and foster the vitality and imagination of the young child and so formal concepts are not taught during these years. However, the curriculum broadly integrates all subject areas within a day-to-day rhythm and the yearly flow of seasonal changes and major festivals.
The basic skills of numeracy and literacy constantly arise in the course of the curriculum but are not formally taught in Kindergarten. Solid foundations for language skills are laid in day-to-day storytelling, songs, rhymes, puppet shows and the personal interaction of each child. The teacher nurtures the children's power of imagination in the telling of carefully selected stories and helps them to experience many aspects of life more deeply by encouraging free play.
The basic skills emerge as children engage themselves in stacking, sorting, collecting, gathering, counting, clapping and game playing.
Communication skills are fostered not just through oral language and daily interaction with teacher and peers but also in artistic expressions of painting, drawing and modeling. Listening skills are exercised daily during story time and interpretation manifests itself in the children's own role-playing and through acting out simple seasonal plays. Individuals engaging in social activity are what make up the Steiner Waldorf school day. A significant part of each morning is spent in the preparation and sharing of a meal and all the co-operation this entails. Problem-solving skills again are not fostered through formal instruction but primarily through the problems that naturally arise in a child's play.
Handwork such as sewing and weaving and craft activities are central to a Steiner Waldorf Kindergarten. These play an important role in developing fine motor skills in the child. Items are made as part of our preparation for festivals, for our nature garden, or for gifts to take home to parents.
The outdoor experience of the child is essential within the Steiner Waldorf Kindergarten. Being outdoors for a part of each morning fosters an understanding of the changing seasons and their different qualities. The children are encouraged to skip, run, climb and swing during their outside play, to enhance their healthy physical development. Also much is gained from planting and harvesting produce.
All children have a need to develop, which is supported by exploring and discovering the world around them.
We plan opportunities that build on and extend all children’s knowledge, experiences, interests and skills and develop their self-esteem and confidence in their ability to learn. We instil in the children a sense of wonder, an appreciation of beauty, and a connection to the natural environment.
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 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 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.
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. However, there will be activities and projects especially focused on these pre-school children. The staff is expecting and making sure that the older children collaborate and contribute in a more structured and reliable way to the kindergarten community.
We have now collated all of this into curriculum documents for those children of statutory school age which shows a progression from the EYFS, differentiation, what we expect of the older children and what and how they will learn through the curriculum provided. The documents describing the curriculum for this age are kept 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).