Children are enrolled in Kindergarten in the year they turn six years old. The homelike environment of warmth and security continues, so that children may gain confidence to happily pass on to school and the world beyond.
The Steiner School picture of child development supports the view that young children need more time and space to develop and learn through physical activities, exploration, social interaction, collaboration and communication before their formal education begins.
Within the world of the Casuarina Kindergarten, play remains the child’s work. However, oral literacy and numeracy are fundamental to the Kindergarten curriculum providing a strong foundation for learning in the Primary school.
Living in the world of fairy tale and imagination, the children will have periods of free play, both inside and outside and often involving construction activities or role play; periods of artistic activities; physical activities and work with oral literacy and language. They will paint, colour, draw, model with beeswax, bake, sew, work with wood, garden and go for bush walks. Stories, songs, poems and rhymes, often coloured by the seasons and sometimes acted out, are an important part of each day. The toys provided are made of natural materials – wood and fabrics – as well as objects found in nature such as pine cones, sea shells and seed pods that the children 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, and needlework. In drawing the children form letters daily (unconsciously) and in painting and in shaping activities develop skills for the future forming of letters.
Wax modelling of real life forms strengthens muscles and tendons in the fingers and hands for control and consistency in writing. Story, verses and songs, strengthen memory, develop phonological awareness and encourage the ability to express feelings through art. Through play in the kindergarten, the child builds a foundation for future abstract thinking and mathematics as they learn 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.