Kindergarten is offered at Casuarina for children in the year they turn six years old.
Once children enter Kindergarten they are on the threshold of formal education. In the Kindergarten the homelike environment of warmth and security continues, so that children may gain confidence to happily pass on to school and the world beyond.
From the developing picture given by Dr Steiner and other educators we are aware that children of this age learn by doing and imitation, that there is ‘participatory knowing’. This participatory or facet knowing needs to be rounded in lived experience in order for abstract concept building to emerge in later years. Through physical sensory and motor activity, through imitation and play the young child comes to know and make the world his or her own.
Within the world of the Casuarina Kindergarten play remains the child’s work. Living in the world of fairytale and imagination they learn artistic and musical activity. He or she will paint, colour, draw, model with bees-wax, bake and experience other hand craft activities. Stories, songs, poems and rhymes, often coloured by the seasons and sometimes acted out, are an important part of each day. Time is given to forms of free play that positively encourage imaginative responses. The toys provided are made of natural materials—wood and fabrics—or maybe natural objects such as pine cones or sea shells that the children may have collected on their walks.
Teaching is centred on imitation and activity encouraging memory, imagination and strengthening the will (perseverance) and social skills. Preparation for their writing begins in Kindergarten in many ways, through drawing with beeswax crayons, painting, wool craft, etc. In drawing the children form letters daily (unconsciously) and in painting and in shaping activities develop skills for the future forming of letters.
Basic rhythmic musical patterns help with later writing and so does Eurythmy (Life Movement) in which the child forms relationships with the sounds and letter forms needed later. Modelling strengthens finger muscles for control and consistency in writing. Forms from real life are modelled. Verses and songs develop memory and love for beauty as well as the ability to express feelings through art.
In-breathing and out-breathing are important in life. The rhythm of the seasons indicates a breathing; Autumn to Winter we go in more, Spring to Summer we breathe out. In Kindergarten our activities are based upon this breathing—daily, weekly and seasonal. The child’s memory develops through rhythmical work, through verses, songs and music. These lay a wonderful basis for future abstract thinking and mathematics. Through play the child learns unconsciously to subtract, multiply, add and divide.
In these warm, loving surroundings inner self confidence, emotional, intelligence and social awareness develop, laying a firm foundation for the next phase of school life.
By the time children are ready for Class 1 (usually in their seventh year) they are very eager to learn and to follow their Class Teacher on a journey of discovery.