Early Years (2 to 6 years)
'Play is the work of early childhood'
The Early Years/Kindergarten curriculum is carefully structured to meet the developmental needs of the child. Following many European educational models, the Steiner Waldorf school does not introduce the teaching of formal concepts until a child’s seventh year. Kindergarten years are filled with a healthy balance of engaging activities and self-directed play, much of it out-of-doors, all specially designed to prepare the ground as fully as possible for the start of formal learning.
Our Early Years provision
Our Early Years provide flexible educational for children from birth to 6 years of age. We have Parent and Child Groups (birth to 3 years) and three kindergartens for children aged 2–6 years. Our kindergartens provide a wonderful and inspirational learning environment between 8.30am to 3.00pm, with optional pickup at 1.00pm. Parents can choose the combination of mornings, afternoons or full days to best suit their needs and those of their child(ren).
The Early Years teachers strive to build a bridge between home and school and to form a connection to each child’s family. The education is based on Rudolf Steiner’s insights and deep understanding of child development. Children of this age learn through imitating the world around them. We aim to provide an example worthy of imitation and to nurture the child’s imagination through providing opportunities for creative play, singing, poetry, stories and puppet plays. The seasonal festivals are an important part of every school year and are celebrated by all the kindergartens and classes throughout the school and most often are shared with family and friends.
All of our kindergartens have outdoor time as being in nature and enjoying the outdoors and the seasons is an important aspect of our education.
Buttercups little kindergarten (2 1/2 to 3 1/2 years)
Buttercups Little Kindergarten is for children from 2 1/2 years old and is a safe, nurturing environment where an emphasis is placed on rhythm and imitation – a place where your child can take their first steps into the social world as a gentle introduction to kindergarten life.
The kindergarten runs from 8.30am to 1.00pm Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. When a child turns 3, and if there is an opening, the child may attend afternoon provision until 3.00pm in the term following their third birthday.
Elderflower and Rosebud kindergartens (3 to 6 years)
Here the child encounters a gentle rhythmic environment. The rooms are beautifully organised with natural unfinished toys which promote imaginative play and resourcefulness. The child is the creator of their own environment, transforming coloured muslins, logs, planks, wooden animals and simple dolls into a myriad of games.
The kindergartens run from 8.30am to 3.00pm every day with an optional pick-up at 1.00pm. Children from Appleblossom staying past 1.00pm experience a seamless and gentle transition into Rosebud or Elderflower kindergartens during the afternoon.
The school runs a very popular and highly regarded woodland kindergarten programme (established 2009). Children from Elderflower and Rosebud kindergartens spend one day per week in the nearby nature reserve. This Forest School experience is incredibly popular and highly successful with both children and parents and is a very important part of our Early Years provision.
Many well-established kindergarten traditions are taken into the woodland setting, keeping the same strong sense of daily, weekly and seasonal rhythms. The children learn responsibility and respect for the world through making their own fire, food, shelter and handwork. They are surrounded by the natural environment, both beautifully simple and endlessly rich, the perfect place for discovery, creativity and imagination to flourish.
Learning flexibility, emotional intelligence
The flexibility that creative play engenders is a skill for life. The ability to transform and adapt, to change and recreate is true freedom. If nourished in the early years it can carry through into adulthood. Children in the kindergarten develop lasting social skills; play becomes the work of the child while around them the teacher and assistants are engaged in tasks that promote healthy examples that the children naturally imitate.
The kindergarten fosters a love of language and communication through the many stories and songs that are learnt and revisited over the years. Dexterity and fine motor skills are supported through finger-knitting, sewing, gardening, baking and finger games.
Rhythm and imitation
The emphasis in the kindergarten is placed on the value of rhythm and imitation. The natural rhythms of the day, week and year are followed, the child bakes on a Monday, paints on a Tuesday, and so on. Festivals are celebrated throughout the year, and daily rhythms such as circle time, outdoor time and tidy time give reassuring continuity. It is here the child finds islands of security in what can be an otherwise over-stimulating world.