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Kindergarten Parents’ Handbook


3. Welcome and Introduction 4. Steiner Early Childhood Education 5. Early Childhood Provision at the Steiner Academy Hereford 6. The Guiding Principles of Steiner Early Childhood Education 8. The Importance of the Natural Environment for the Young Child 9. The Central Role of Play in the Steiner Kindergarten 10. A Kindergarten Morning at the Steiner Academy Hereford 12. Kindergarten Celebrations 14. How to Support Your Child in Kindergarten 19. The Steiner Perspective on Formal Learning in Early Childhood 20. Resources

“The more slowly trees grow at first, the sounder they are at the core, and I think the same is true of human beings.� Thoreau

Welcome and Introduction We are delighted to welcome you and your child to our Kindergartens at the Steiner Academy Hereford (SAH) where we aim to offer a gentle, progressive and unhurried approach to Early Childhood Education within a warm, nurturing environment. The purpose of this handbook is to provide you with an informative introductory picture of the journey upon which you and your child are now embarking.


Steiner Early Childhood Education Steiner Early Childhood Education is child centred and thereby honours the uniqueness of each child whilst at the same time working with the needs of the group as a whole. Since a child’s primary mode of learning is that of being, doing and experiencing, learning is integrated rather than subject based with an emphasis on process and experience rather than outcome. Children are given time to unfold at their own pace with plenty of opportunities for uninterrupted play-based exploration arising out of their understanding of life.


Early Childhood Provision at the Steiner Academy Hereford Children enter the Kindergarten at approximately 3½ years old and remain with their Kindergarten teacher until rising seven when they enter Class 1. This later start to formal education allows children to experience the joy of learning without unnecessary pressure. The development of a healthy physical body, a strong will to learn and true inner confidence are regarded as being the foundations for future learning. Each of the four Kindergarten groups contains eighteen children and is led by a teacher trained in Steiner Early Childhood Education, who is supported by a qualified assistant. Emphasis is placed upon the interactive social experience through which qualities such as cooperation, empathy, independence and initiative can develop. The Kindergarten is a ‘family’ of a mixed age-group of children which stays together for three years, providing a sense of belonging and caring for one another. Younger children learn from their older peers, who in turn have an opportunity to take responsibility and provide support for the little ones. This smaller Kindergarten family community is held within the wider embrace of the main school community of parents and teachers.


The Guiding Principles of Steiner Early Childhood Education Steiner Early Childhood Education is based on the important guiding principles of Rhythm and Repetition, Imitation and Care and Development of the Young Child’s Senses

Rhythm and Repetition Working within a strong and regular rhythm promotes a sense of security and self-confidence. It can help children to live with change, begin to know their place in the world and to develop an understanding of past, present and future. The rhythmical element is therefore reflected in the daily life of the Kindergarten - giving form and structure to the morning so the young child knows what to expect, enabling him/her to fully enter into the morning. The daily rhythm and its pattern of activities are cradled within the rhythm of the week. In this way painting, baking and drawing etc. are repeated on the same day each week. A cyclical rhythmic pattern is also reflected in the way that themes of ‘work’ relate to seasons of the year. With each season comes a regular work or activity – for example threshing and grinding wheat in the autumn or planting seeds in the spring. Stories and songs also relate to the seasons and the Kindergarten’s nature table reflects the changing natural environment through the year. Memory is strengthened by the recurrence of daily, weekly and yearly events and children’s understanding of time gently unfolds out of their own direct experience, often related to the seasons. For instance they may comment: “When I smell soup cooking I know it must be painting day,” or “It must be Maypole time again because the bluebells are here…”

Imitation Children do not learn through instruction or admonition but through an innate desire to imitate. Since learning gains meaning by its relevance to life, the Kindergarten teacher surrounds the children with purposeful activities that care for the Kindergarten ‘home’. Cooking, baking, gardening, cleaning and caring for materials are all meaningful tasks, which are nourishing for children to imitate. Since gestures, thoughts and feelings are perceived and imitated by the young child, the Kindergarten teacher therefore engages in all that s/he does with conscious loving care - endeavouring to be a role model worthy of imitation.

Care and Development of the Young Child’s Senses Young children come into the world with complete openness and trust, absorbing everything around them without filters or buffers. The world literally impresses itself on them and their growth and development are shaped by these impressions. Learning is profoundly connected to the child’s own physical body and sensory experience - everything the young child sees, hears, and touches has an effect. Thus clean, orderly, beautiful and peaceful surroundings with natural materials and warm textures are essential. The physical environment (both indoors and outdoors) should provide varied and nourishing opportunities for self-directed learning - experiences in touch, balance, lively and joyful movement, and also inward listening. 6

The Importance of the Natural Environment for the Young Child “The best classroom and richest cupboard is roofed only by the sky.” Margaret McMillan

Children come into life with a sense that the world is good, beautiful and true. They live in a dreamy, fairytale consciousness - quite different from adults - within which they feel completely connected with all that surrounds them. Stillness, peace and time to be in the natural world are essential to experiencing the wonders of life. Through the nourishment of their senses children deeply experience sunlight and darkness, sparkly frosts and fires, muddy puddles and flower-filled meadows as they joyfully celebrate the seasons of the year through all that nature brings. The natural environment with its diversity of features and elements provides children with a sense of adventure, expanding their horizons and exposing them to the unplanned and unknown. Through creating their own, often ingenious, physical challenges and risks, children practise discernment and decision-making and in so doing, learn much about their strengths and limitations. A young child’s need to move is fundamental at this age. Space to run, skip and climb, to stretch out and test balance and co-ordination enables him to become master of his physical body. However, the reality is that we live in a fast and ever-changing world in which a rushed and non-rhythmical pace of life runs counter to the young child’s needs. Many of the children within our Early Years community have long car journeys in the morning; therefore coming straight into a more restricted indoor environment denies this need for movement during the most energetic part of the day. It is for this reason that our morning begins outside in the Kindergarten garden. In the early morning the natural world often has a rare and special quality that can inspire awe and wonder in children. The first frosts of winter, a spider’s web hung with morning dew or an exciting scattering of fresh snow can provide a memorable and enriching experience for the child before later entering the warm glow of the Kindergarten room.


The Central Role of Play in the Steiner Kindergarten “There was a child that went forth every day, and the first object he look’d upon, that object he became…” Walt Whitman

Steiner Early Childhood teachers have long been emphasising the fundamental role of creative play in healthy child development and therefore self-directed play is fundamental to our education. One of the Kindergarten teacher’s main tasks therefore is to support the child in his or her imaginative endeavours through the provision of simple, unformed natural play materials that nurture the child’s senses and maximise imaginative potential. Play materials and toys are intentionally unformed in order that a child’s imagination can transform one item into another. This enables a free flow of imaginative games and play themes. A large seaside shell can become a bowl, a boat or a telephone; a simple muslin cloth can act as knight’s cloak, a bed cover or a roof for a house! By contrast, ready formed toys cause a child’s play to become stuck and repetitive; a highly detailed plastic lawn mower only serves one purpose, whereas a chair turned upside down may begin its ‘life’ as a lawn mower then become a car and finally end up as a shopping trolley! The view of Steiner Early Childhood Educators is that the free flow of imagination in childhood forms the foundation for free-flowing thinking as an adult. It could be said therefore that the manner in which a child plays may offer a picture of how she will take up her destiny as an adult.

Supporting Research There is a growing body of scientific evidence to show that imaginative play is fundamental to the social, cognitive and emotional development of children. Studies have found that ‘good child players’ build up a strong sense of will and learn to nurture, to take responsibility and to empathise. Furthermore, they develop focus and concentration in preparation for later academic learning and tend to be less aggressive than ‘poor players’. They are also likely to take more initiative, be more adaptable and show fewer signs of fear, sadness and fatigue. Imaginative play provides children with a chance to rehearse a whole host of life situations. Research has even suggested that rich fantasy play can potentially prepare the neurology of the brain to cope with psychological trauma and guard against modern-day childhood disorders such as ADHD.


A Kindergarten Morning at the Steiner Academy Hereford Arrival time – 8.30 am On your arrival, your teacher will greet you and your child in the Kindergarten garden; this is a natural opportunity for you to ‘checkin’ with your child’s teacher and share anything you may need to say about your child. During this part of the morning children have an opportunity to explore the garden and play with their friends. On some days an early walk in the surrounding environment follows this initial period of play. Each group has a morning a week spent preparing and baking bread around our outdoor clay bread oven. An additional morning is based at our outdoor Kindergarten within the school grounds.

Ring time The children come together in a circle with the teacher who leads a rhythmical sequence of songs, poems, finger games and traditional ring games. The content draws on what is happening outside in nature and our human relationship to it throughout the changing seasons, such as gathering apples at summer’s end and chopping wood for the winter fire. The children are reconnected to the archetypal pictures of life that are increasingly fading from our modern experience - the blacksmith shoeing the farmer’s horse and the miller threshing his wheat are amongst the many images. The children learn to follow the teacher’s gestures and movements, experiencing their own physicality through an innate urge to join in with the group as a whole. Little direct instruction is given; instead the teacher aims to work with the child’s own sense of will and natural impulse to imitate. Ring time is a daily activity except when replaced by a weekly visit by the Eurythmy teacher.

Eurythmy Eurythmy, meaning beautiful or harmonious rhythm, is an expressive art of movement arising out of the work of Rudolf Steiner. Eurythmy gestures and movements are connected to the sounds and rhythms of language, the tonal experience of music and inner ‘soul’ experiences such as joy and sorrow. It is sometimes referred to as ‘visible speech’ or ‘visible music’. The movement of Eurythmy engages the whole human being, integrating bodily movement with movements that arise within the soul, thus creating a harmonious relationship between the soul-spiritual element and the body. Practising eurythmical gesture and movement enhances children’s coordination and helps them feel more at ease with themselves. Eurythmy is a fundamental element of the Steiner School curriculum from Kindergarten through to Class Twelve.

Toilet/hand washing In Early Childhood Education great care is given to supporting the child in building up a strong physical body. As with all other aspects of the Kindergarten morning, time is given to the rhythms of toilet and hand washing.

Snack time At mid morning the children enjoy a healthy snack around the table together. An important point of reverence within the morning comes at the beginning of snack time with the lighting of a candle and the group saying a “blessing on the meal.” A sense of respect is held throughout the meal and re-enforced at the end by the group joining hands to say, “thank you.” The children set the table with care and attention to detail and have usually also helped to prepare the food. The older children take on more responsibility such as serving and clearing away the snack. One of the ways in which the teacher creates a strong sense of routine in the Kindergarten is to prepare the same foods on the same days of each week. We provide a range of wholesome snacks such as sweet rice, muesli, savoury millet, soup, home baked bread and herb teas. As far as possible all ingredients used are fresh and organic and sugar intake is kept to a minimum. If your child has any special dietary requirements please inform your Kindergarten teacher. 10

“Children want spaces at all ages...ample space is almost as much wanted as food and air. To move, run, to find things out by new movement, to feel one’s life in every limb, that is the life of early childhood.” Margaret Macmillan

Creative play This part of the morning offers an opportunity for children to initiate their own self-directed play free from adult involvement and direction. They recreate all that they have observed in their day-to-day lives, using the natural unformed play materials available to them. A whole host of elaborate structures and associated play themes emerge from the busy hustle bustle of the creative play period within our morning: houses, shops, hospitals, veterinary clinics, cars, trains, boats and planest, - all built out of simple items (such as logs, shells, stones, conkers, pine cones, veils, tables and chairs) are just a few creations that can be seen. Play is children’s ‘work’ and they take it very seriously!

Craft/handwork and seasonal activities Alongside creative play there is an opportunity for children to work from their own initiative at practical and artistic tasks such as sewing, drawing, painting or woodwork. The children are welcome but not required to join and, as with all aspects of the Kindergarten morning, find their way into the experience at their own pace. Often the youngest children within the group are happy to just be near the adult, watching whilst they work. Handwork and crafts are predominantly connected to the seasons: autumn gives us nature’s treasures - teasels, leaves, nuts and berries which give rise to leafy mobiles and woven tapestries, while warm wools and textures nourish the senses through the cold months of winter. Conversely, spring and summer are the time for light airy fabrics for butterflies and bees. We aim to bring wholeness into all our activities. For example, wheat is harvested, threshed and ground in the stone mill to make flour for our harvest loaf and apples are collected, made into jam and pressed into juice.

Tidy-up time Tidy-up time unfolds seamlessly out of the creative play period and is an integral part of the morning. With great enthusiasm simple apple boxes are converted into all manner of delivery vehicles and carts - ferrying their goods to and fro! Whilst ‘shop keepers’ sort conkers, shells and pines cones, the ‘puppies’ and ‘kittens’ are busy carrying cloths and blankets back to the basket. This is a time when all the children are happily absorbed in sorting, cleaning, folding, stacking and making sure everything is in its rightful place before play can begin anew the next day.

Story time The Kindergarten morning concludes with the teacher bringing a fairy tale, folk story or puppet play - each one chosen with the season and its significance in mind. Fairy tales and stories from nature address the emotional realm and awaken a moral sense in the child. They show the hidden nature of each person with all the trials and tribulations we have to go through as we find our true path through life. Children are able to engage their imagination more fully with the content if they are left to conjure their own mental pictures rather than follow those laid out on a page and it is for this reason that stories are always told by heart rather than read. The experience of being told a fairy tale is a rich one for children. They come to appreciate the beauty and rhythms of language and the unique quality that this brings to the story. Through being exposed to the rich and diverse language of fairy tales children’s vocabulary is enriched and extended.

Home time 12.50 pm After a full and busy morning children are handed back into the care of their parent or carer, often with a brief word passing between teacher and parent about the child’s morning.


Kindergarten Celebrations Festivals Festivals play a significant role in the life of the Kindergarten and like beacons of light they illuminate the way through the seasonal year. These celebrations are deeply nourishing to the young child; they enrich his innate feelings of reverence and openness to the wonders of the world. Each festival nurtures specific qualities such as gratitude at harvest time, courage and perseverance at Michaelmas in autumn, hope and anticipation during Advent, the love and inner light of Christmas, the transformation and rebirth of springtime and Easter, the joy and celebration of nature at May Day and the radiant fire of Midsummer. The children love preparing for the festivals by decorating the room, baking celebratory treats and learning special songs and verses. They enjoy the anticipation of the event itself as well as the magical memories that they are left with. Our festivals foster a special relationship between the parents and Kindergarten setting, creating a sense of belonging for the young child who is held within a wider embrace of caring adults. Your teacher will provide you with details of each individual festival as it approaches during the year. The list below details the festivals celebrated annually within Kindergarten.

Kindergarten Festivals through the Year

Autumn Term

Summer Term

September Michaelmas Harvest November/December Martinmas Advent St Nicholas Christmas (end of term)

May May Day May/June Whitsun July St John’s End of Term Picnic Summer (end of year)

Spring Term February Candlemas March/April Easter (end of term)

Birthday Celebrations A birthday celebration is a very special event in the Kindergarten. Parents are invited to join the celebration where a short biographical story of their child is shared with the group. This gives a picture of the child’s own life and his or her unique place in the world. Once again, the birthday celebration is a point at which the teacher works to awaken a sense of reverence, awe and wonder in the children.


How to Support Your Child in Kindergarten Daily rhythms We ask that you are as punctual as possible to drop off and collect your child from Kindergarten. In our experience it can prove difficult for children who arrive late to settle and integrate socially and, likewise, it can be upsetting for children to be left behind after their friends have gone home at the end of the morning. Furthermore, teachers are often required to attend meetings directly after Kindergarten finishes. Should you be unexpectedly delayed, you will need to notify Reception who will pass the message on to your teacher. Once you have collected your child at the end of the morning, he/she becomes your responsibility. If another adult is collecting them, you will need to send a permission slip (available from your teacher) in their toggle bag that morning. There is no official provision for children before or after Kindergarten hours. Regular Kindergarten attendance is important for your child’s experience and development. Participation in the daily and weekly rhythm affects the well-being of the child and her sense of belonging to the ‘Kindergarten family’. We therefore ask parents to maintain these rhythms by sending their child in on the days that they usually attend, as well as refraining from taking holidays during term times. It is important that children are present at all our festivals, which often fall at the end of term, as they are a fundamental part of Kindergarten life - creating an experience of belonging and completion both for the parents and the children. Taking your child out of Kindergarten is sometimes unavoidable but if he or she will not be attending for any reason you must inform Reception by 8.30 am. Should your child need to be absent for more than one day (due to special circumstances) a request must be made in writing in advance to the Principal.

Kindergarten clothing Our Kindergarten morning is a time of active work and play, a large portion of which is spent outside. In order for your child to enter comfortably into all the Kindergarten activities it is essential that s/he is dressed in appropriate clothing. It is important that your child is dressed warmly from the ‘inside out’ in play (not best) clothes made of natural fibres that breathe, such as wool and cotton. During colder months children need warm, ideally thermal, underwear (ie., long sleeved vests and ‘long-johns’) as well as warm socks - preferably woollen - which are easier than tights to change if they get wet. It is also preferable that girls as well as boys wear trousers (thin cotton ones in summer) to support them in their outdoor play. Clothing needs to be layered for flexibility and ideally each child should have a gilet or fleece waistcoat in addition to his/her outdoor waterproof coats and a pair of warm, waterproof ‘ski-type’ gloves. Your child will need a warm winter hat for the colder seasons as well as a light cotton one for summer. Hats are worn all year round for warmth and sun protection in our Kindergartens so it is important therefore to find one that your child likes and will be happy to wear. If your child has long hair (whether a boy or a girl) it needs to be tied back out of the way. Summer tops and dresses should have sleeves or be worn with a tee-shirt underneath. Shoes that are laced or buckled are preferable to those with velcro fastenings since these support fine motor skill development and enable children to feel a sense of accomplishment when they learn to tie their own laces and buckle their own shoes. Inside the Kindergarten the children should wear slippers, which must be warm and comfortable with supportive backs (not slip-ons). In the autumn and winter months the children need knee-high wellington boots (short boots tend to let water in) and these should be worn to Kindergarten each day instead of shoes. You will also need to send your child with welly warmers or warm over-socks stored in their toggle bags. 14

“School life should grow gradually out of home life.” John Dewey Please note that flashing trainers, nail varnish and make-up are not allowed at school. Furthermore (in accordance with school policy) clothing should be without pictures or logos, camouflage or army designs and should not be ripped or frayed. (For more information, please see Main School Parent Handbook). Experience has shown us that commercial television or movie images printed on clothing (including slippers, lunch boxes and wellington boots) can affect the imaginative play of the young child and causes distraction from the natural rhythm and flow of the Kindergarten session. In our work with young children we strive to create a mood of wonder and beauty in which original expression of the child’s imagination is encouraged. It is with this in mind that we therefore ask for your support in our endeavour.

Supporting the well-being of your child Creating a home environment that supports what is taking place in the Kindergarten will be of great benefit to your child. The following recommendations may be helpful: Establishing regular rhythms of meal and bedtimes and of where your child keeps his/her coats, hats, boots and shoes etc. The young child feels secure in knowing that everything has its right and proper place. Giving your child enough time. It is especially important to wake little children slowly and gently; when a child first awakens from dreamland sleep they are particularly open to influences around them. An unhurried transition from home to Kindergarten will create a harmonious start to the day for them as well as you! Encouraging your child to play imaginatively by protecting him/her from the influences of television, computer and radio.

The adverse affects of electronic media Television is now deeply rooted in our culture and so much a part of our everyday life that we often do not even question its effects and value. However, numerous research studies have now raised serious concerns about the influence of TV and computer technology on child development and behaviour. It is well proven that the widespread and fast growth of ‘screen culture’ today is causing serious physical and emotional health issues in young people including aggressive behaviour, depression, inactivity, obesity and heart disease. This concern has long been felt by Steiner educators, especially in relation to the child of under seven years of age. For this reason television and computer technology will not be found in the Steiner Kindergarten setting, nor is exposure to television recommended in the child’s home life. Alongside the health issues detailed above, we have further reason to encourage parents in limiting their children’s access to TV and computers. Our concern corresponds particularly to the development of the young child. As highlighted here in earlier sections, children are naturally predisposed to live in their imagination during their early years. We consider this to be one of the greatest gifts of childhood and believe that support of the child’s imaginative capacity is crucial for his/her healthy development into a wellbalanced adult. Through watching a television screen, a child is caused to be unhealthily still in his/her mind as the finished images presented require no further work from the child’s imagination – the mind becomes temporarily disabled. After prolonged and regular periods of this happening, the child’s mind becomes accustomed to this way of being and the individual can ultimately lose the ability to take initiative and think creatively. Such children can easily become stuck in repetitive play sequences where they imitate what they have seen on the screen, rather than utilising their own original imaginative capacity. Children brought up on a diet of TV commonly become bored quickly in the absence of outside input and often lose the ability to entertain themselves at all. 15

The adverse affects of electronic media cont. Equally, television can over-stimulate a child’s mind. This is partly because of the high frequency and speed at which visual images are presented on the screen. The effect of over-stimulation in this virtual sense is that the child can switch off to real stimulation, real people and real events. We are however realistic about this issue and of course we recognise that most children are likely to come into contact with some television and computer technology in our current time. However, based on the information above, we respectfully ask that you protect your child whenever possible from exposure to television and computer games in order to support him/her in being able to benefit fully from the education.

Protecting your child from over-stimulation Your child will be tired after a full and busy morning at Kindergarten and we therefore ask that you provide him/her with a peaceful afternoon at home. We also request that you avoid any extra-curricular activities - such as lessons in ballet, swimming, music and martial arts - since (being more fixed in their nature) they go against the joyful spontaneity of the young child

Caring for well-being Like you, the Kindergarten teachers take a special interest in your child’s physical well-being and will make every effort to support you in keeping him/her healthy. A well rested child who is dressed warmly in winter, protected from the sun in summer and who is fed a wholesome diet is best prepared to withstand the onslaught of winter colds and health ailments. It is normal however for children to experience sicknesses from time to time as they grow. As parents, you know better than the teacher how your child appears and acts when he or she is ill. A busy and active social morning is no place for a sick child and therefore we ask that you keep your child at home if he/she is at all unwell. After an illness, children often appear healthy in the morning but may not be up to the vigorous activity of the Kindergarten morning. Please therefore allow your child at least one full day of rest after an illness. School policy states that all medicines and remedies (including sun cream) must be entrusted to the Kindergarten teacher, along with specific instructions and written consent. In an emergency we will use the information you have provided to contact you or a nominated guardian. Your signed consent will allow us to give the medical attention your child might need.

The role of the school/Kindergarten doctor Most Steiner schools across the world aim to work closely together with a doctor to further the development of each child to reach his or her full potential. The integration of education and medicine or, in other words, ‘the emphasis of the healing element within the educational framework’ was established in the first Steiner School some 80 years ago when Dr. Eugen Kolisko was appointed by Rudolf Steiner in 1919. The emphasis of child development, which is specific to Anthroposophy, is the understanding of the interdependency of the physical and emotional-mental activity. The school doctor has a preventative and health promoting role within the educational system, working closely together with the educational team as well as the parents. The school doctor is part of the therapeutic team which includes the special educational needs teachers and therapists - such as Eurythmy, Speech, Art and Music Therapists. In addition to this they act as a link to other health professionals outside the school such as GPs and Educational Psychologists. Ideally, all children are assessed at different stages to establish an understanding of their educational or developmental needs.


“It is not half so important to know as to feel.” Rachel Carson Eurythmy Therapy Eurythmy is also used therapeutically in order to support the child’s development where hindrances might occur - such as learning difficulties in general, dyslexia, speech issues, hyperactivity, lack of concentration or coordination and developmental physical conditions, e.g., eczema, bed-wetting, formation of teeth, sleep problems, asthma, allergies, flat foot and others. The Eurythmy therapist usually works in conjunction with a referral from the anthroposophical school doctor and/or the Kindergarten teacher, in consultation with parents. The Eurythmy therapist will practise exercises tailored specifically to each case to support both the inner (emotional) and outer (physical) development of the individual child. Ideally, the child will be seen twice a week for 20 minutes during a half-term within school time. In most cases, a pause of at least half a term is recommended before the child can have a follow-up block of sessions to reinforce the work started.

Home visits During the first year of Kindergarten, your teacher will arrange to make a home visit in order to see your child within his or her own home environment. This offers your teacher an opportunity to create a deeper connection with your child and can also be strengthening for the bond between her and the family.

Parents’ evenings Each Kindergarten will have its own parents’ evening once every term where the parents as a group come together with the teacher and an aspect of the education is shared. The principal aims of these meetings are to allow parents’ awareness and understanding of Steiner Early Childhood Education to deepen, as well as to provide an opportunity for the teacher to share some of her observations and impressions of the children over the previous weeks. Parents’ evenings offer a ‘space’ for parents to air any thoughts or concerns regarding parenting or Steiner Early Childhood Education and to ask specific questions of their teacher. Parents can also often participate in one of the Kindergarten craft activities during these meetings and are thus able to gain further insight into their child’s everyday experience in school. Teachers are always grateful for communication from you about significant circumstances or changes in your child’s life. Please feel free to arrange an appointment whenever the need arises.

Keeping in touch Since many children come to Kindergarten via lift shares and the mini buses, passing on information can prove challenging! However, messages and letters can be passed back and forth in the children’s toggle bags. Parents can also arrange to meet with their teacher to discuss any specific questions or concerns they may have regarding their child.

(For all Policies and Procedures relating to Kindergarten please see Main School Parent Handbook)


The Steiner Perspective on Formal Learning in Early Childhood It is an established principle in the Steiner Early Years curriculum that young children are not taught to read and write before rising seven. We feel that accelerated formal learning is achieved at a cost - often leading to anxiety, tension and low motivation to work at future stages. The Steiner Early Years curriculum seeks to nurture and protect the child’s imaginative world because this is seen as fundamental to healthy child development; awakening the children’s consciousness through direct teaching, questioning and reminding runs counter to this. We wait for them to ‘discover’ and ‘wake up’, ‘become aware of’, and ‘begin to question’ according to their individual development and readiness. Although the teachers may answer children’s questions, these initially stem from the child’s own experiences and self-initiated learning which is in effect the child’s first research. Mathematical concepts and language are integrated into the daily life of Kindergarten and are thus embedded within a meaningful context. Likewise, everything the children experience within Kindergarten fosters a love of language and the development of good vocabularies. In this way literacy is given the best possible foundation. (For more information please refer to the “Guide to the Early Years Foundation Stage in Steiner Waldorf Early Childhood Settings” - see over)

“Although it is highly necessary that each person should be fully awake in later life, the child must be allowed to remain as long as possible in the peaceful, dreamlike condition of pictorial imagination in which his early years of life are passed. For if we allow his organism to grow strong in this nonintellectual way, he will rightly develop in later life the intellectuality needed in the world today”. Rudolf Steiner


Resources List of useful websites: The Steiner Academy Hereford - The Steiner Waldorf Schools Fellowship - The Alliance for Childhood - Rudolf Steiner Press - Floris Books -

Suggested reading list: Waldorf Education - Christopher Clouder and Martin Rawson (Floris Books) You are Your Child’s First Teacher - Rahima Baldwin (Hawthorn Press - Early years series) Free To Learn - Introducing Steiner Waldorf Early Childhood Education - Lynne Oldfield (Hawthorn Press) The Genius of Play - Sally Jenkinson (Hawthorn Press) The Incarnating Child - Joan Salter (Hawthorn Press) Well, I Wonder – Childhood in the Modern World - Sally Schweizer (Rudolf Steiner Press) Under the Sky - Sally Schweizer (Sophia Books, Rudolf Steiner Press) Ready to Learn – from birth to school readiness -Martin Rawson and Michael Rose (Hawthorn Press) Toxic Childhood - Sue Palmer (Orion Books) Remotely Controlled - Aric Sigman (Vermillion) Festivals, Family and Food - Diana Carey and Judy Large (Hawthorn Press) All Year Round - Ann Druitt, Christine Fynes-Clinton, Marije Rowling (Hawthorn Press) Education towards Freedom (3rd revised edition) - Christopher Clouder and Franz Carlgren (Floris Books) Meeting the child - Approaches to Observation and Assessment in Steiner Kindergartens - Mary Jane Drummond and Sally Jenkinson (University of Plymouth) Guide to the Early Years Foundation Stage in Steiner Waldorf Early Childhood Settings (Steiner Waldorf Schools Fellowship Ltd)


design & layout: yellowfishdesign print: sussex print printed on revive 100 recycled paper

Happy hearts and happy faces, Happy play in grassy places, That was how, in ancient ages, Children grew to kings and sages. Robert Louis Stevenson

Steiner Academy Hereford  

Early Years Handbook

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