(Age till 4½)
Steiner education has a holistic view of learning – learning that is broad, dynamic and interconnected; play and learning are not separated, but intertwined entities in child development. In the early years of child development, play-based learning is the natural core component of Steiner education in the pre-primary and early primary years.
In play-based learning, children have multiple opportunities to explore their environment, be resourceful with materials, communicate ideas and feelings, collaborate with others towards joint goals, negotiate disagreements and take leadership when needed; all these activities provide the building blocks for life skills and capacities.
Lavender Cottage Parent & Child Group
At Lavender Cottage Parent and Child Group (playgroup), the environment is prepared to meet the child’s nature and needs. There is no intentional teaching, which will prematurely stimulate the intellect. The child’s dream-quality and timelessness is nurtured in a rhythmic and joyous environment, together with other families who are also striving for a more wholesome and quality space for their children.
The aim of a Steiner playgroup is to develop a sanctuary of safe play for children and an oasis of peace and friendship for parents. Much emphasis is placed on the physical environment being one that is home-like, where children can engage in homely activities. There are beautiful, natural, handmade play materials to inspire creative play amongst the children.
During the year at Lavender Cottage Parent and Child group, children will begin to learn how to take turns and sit with others as we eat together, sing songs and listen to a story. We will bake bread and enjoy both outside and inside creative play. A trained coordinator facilitates each Parent & Child Group.
Session times are Monday – Wednesday mornings from 9:00am – 11:30am
– Lavender Cottage Parent & Child Group –
Peach Blossom is offered to children when they are four-and-a-half years old. This year serves as a gradual and gentle transition into school life. Children attend a mixed class made up of both Peach Blossom and full-time Kindergarten children. Peach Blossom children attend the school part-time two to three days per week.
Peach Blossom is grounded in Steiner Education principles, particularly the understanding of child development. The young child is engrossed in learning through imitation. The Kindergarten environment supports this by ensuring that teachers and assistants are worthy of imitation.
Life is a rhythmical flow of contraction (breathing in) and expansion (breathing out). We see this rhythm not only within ourselves, but in the seasons – Autumn to Winter we breathe in, Spring to Summer we breathe out. We see it in the rhythm of our days with darkness moving in to light and back to darkness again. In the early years, our activities are based upon this breathing – daily, weekly and seasonal.
Each day a strong rhythm is followed, providing simple domestic and artistic activities, a rest time after lunch and a healthy balance of indoor and outdoor play.
Stories, rhymes, music, movement, problem solving, social interaction and social learning, basic physics, language development and the ongoing development of fine and gross motor skills are all part of our school day.
Peach Blossom provides an environment that allows the young child to exercise their dynamic power of imagination through play. Play materials are natural, simple and beautiful, allowing the child’s forces of imagination to conjure and transform simple objects into imaginative and magnificent moments. The process of creation is more important than the product created.
The children experience a sense of joy and well-being in an environment that does not rush them through this vital period of childhood but gives them time to live strongly in their imaginative will forces and places value on creative play as a basis for future learning.
In this beautiful, purpose-built creative environment, the children are given the opportunity to make a meaningful connection to the teacher and other children.
– Peach Blossom –
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.