Play, Work, Imitation & Stories:
Foundations for our Kinderfarm
curriculum for mixed-age kindergarten (ages 3-6)
The early childhood teacher works with the young child by creating a warm and beautiful home-like environment which is protective and secure, and where things happen in a predictable, regular manner. Inspired by Rudolf Steiner's indications for Waldorf education, the teacher responds to the developing child in two basic ways:
Firstly, the teacher engages in domestic, practical and artistic activities that the children can readily imitate such as baking, painting, gardening and handicrafts, adapting the work to the changing seasons and festivals of the year. Secondly, the teacher nurtures the children's power of imagination particular to the age by artfully telling carefully selected stories and by encouraging free play. This free or fantasy play, in which children act out scenarios of their own creation, helps them to experience many aspects of life more deeply. When toys are used, they are made of natural materials. Pine cones, wood, cotton, silk, shells, stones and other objects from nature that the children themselves have collected are used in play and to beautify the room.
Basic skills necessary for the foundation of academic excellence are fostered in the Kindergarten. These might include sequencing, sensory integration, eye-hand coordination tracking, and appreciating the beauty of language. In this truly natural, loving and creative environment, the children are given a range of activities and the structure to help them prepare for the next phase of school life.
In the Kindergarten the overall environment, the unique play materials, and the chosen activities all contribute to fostering the child's natural sense of awe and wonder. The world of nature and the rhythm and beauty of the seasons enliven the classroom environment, fostering the joy and wonder of childhood. The art of oral storytelling is alive; fairy tales provide inner nourishment through archetypal truths about the world in picture form. In the stories chosen we have wonderful pictures of what it is to be human, and of the work and good will that each of us can bring into the world. Rudolf Steiner stressed that our creative capacities are actually built up and exercised like any muscle: with use, they grow strong and vital. The young child naturally applies these forces with complete joy and devotion.
The curriculum strengthens creativity and imagination through artistic work. The child's creative process is also strengthened through rich experience with color and form. Through the interaction of simple, primary colors, the child sees the whole spectrum emerge on paper while painting. The children color and model with beeswax materials. Beeswax has a warm and living quality. When modeling, the children's warm hands soften the wax, and when the form is complete, the wax hardens again as it cools. (Kindergarten Curriculum Overview adapted from the Minnesota Waldorf School)