Preschool and Kindergarten
The preschool-kindergarten program is housed in its own building, with four classrooms and a comfortable lobby. The classrooms are full of warmth, beauty, comfort, and simplicity. All classrooms are multi-aged with children from three-and-a-half through six years old. Children can attend the preschool-kindergarten for one, two or three years; they generally remain with the same teacher. A quiet aftercare program consisting of a social lunch, rest and play time is offered in the early afternoon.
The children's day follows a regular rhythm. It begins with free play, a creative, unstructured time that is the heart of the morning. Natural materials such as shells, crystals, silk cloths, wooden blocks, and cloth dolls wait upon the shelves to be used during this time. Incorporated in free play is a daily activity such as painting, baking, drawing or beeswax modeling.
During the daily circle time, children are inspired by beautiful language, verses, and singing. They follow the teacher's gestures and movements, challenging their growing bodies. The finger plays and rhymes practiced during circle time help the children develop their gross and fine motor skills, improve eye-hand coordination, and encourage a love of language.
Every day the teacher tells a fairy or nature tale, always told as a story, not read from a book. The teacher retells the story for a week or two, allowing the children to truly absorb the images. The stories help to build listening skills, memory and comprehension. Seasonal festivals and celebrations enliven the children's innate sense of wonder, reverence, and gratitude.
The children's social sense is reinforced in the preparation and sharing of a daily snack. Teachers and children eat together at a table set with candles, flowers, and cloth napkins. Children help to gather the eggs, grind the grains, and make the maple syrup that may be used to prepare the nourishing, whole-foods meal. A blessing of gratitude begins each snack, leaving ample time for pleasant conversation.
Waldorf early childhood teachers are skilled in creating a beautiful, harmonious, and secure environment. Gentle transitions guide children from one activity to the next, helping them find security in change. Children under the age of seven are best taught by deeds rather than words, and teachers strive to permeate every action with the kind of care and sense of purpose that is worthy of imitation.