The kindergarten is set on a rural farm-like setting on Waiheke Island in the Hauraki Gulf. It is based on the educational philosophy of Rudolf Steiner. The Kindergarten also reflects the unique and diverse community and landscape of Waiheke Island.
A strong sense of community is built through parents and whanau working together in many ways, from friendships to working bees, to the celebration of festivals that bring everyone together. Both children and parents benefit from and respond to the peace of this unique setting and the nurturing quality of the Waldorf curriculum.
The Kindergarten (Children’s Garden)
The kindergarten strives to provide a protective and meaningful environment worthy of imitation, in order to support the healthy development of the senses and to strengthen the child’s developing will forces. Sensory impressions are carefully selected within the kindergarten environment and opportunities provided for children to experience a range of purposeful activities and to experience caring and respectful relationships with both adults and children. Children model their behaviour on the examples they see around them. The efforts of teachers and adults to provide good human role models is seen as being paramount in the education of young children and in supporting positive behaviour.
The provision of a consistent rhythm in daily activities is also seen as an essential element in the kindergarten environment, encouraging children to feel a sense of belonging and well-being and supporting the physical development of the child. Child behaviour management is supported by a consistent and reliable rhythm within the kindergarten day in which children can feel a deep sense of security.
Daily and weekly events are brought into a regular ‘breathing’ rhythm and this extends into an awareness of the yearly rhythm and the cycles of nature and the seasons, extending children’s connection to the natural environment.
The rhythm of the kindergarten day includes indoor and outdoor playtime, domestic activities and routines, art, craft and seasonal activities, morning circle song and movement time, morning tea time and story time.
All activities are taught in an inclusive way through the use of role modelling and imitation. Oral language, listening and attention span are developed through song, rhyme and verse at circle time and through oral and puppet storytelling. There is a strong emphasis on the development of oral language skills to lay the foundations for literacy. The use of repetition at circle and story time is considered conducive to children’s learning.
Festivals are an important part of the yearly rhythm and are an essential part of the calendar of nourishment for the human soul and spirit. The kindergarten celebrates both seasonal and Christian festivals and includes the wider community in these events. Festivals include, where possible the culture of Aotearoa, by using the symbols, stories or traditions of this land.
Cultural experiences for all children are expanded in the kindergarten by acknowledging all children and their diverse backgrounds wherever possible. In particular, the kindergarten endeavours to acknowledge the bi-cultural nature of Aotearoa.
Rhythm is a strong element of the kindergarten giving children a sense of form and security.
An example of the rhythm of the day is;
8.45 am Arrival and settling in period. Inside activities including free play and baking for lunch. Other activities may include hand work, craft, and painting.
10.00 am Fruit that the children have brought and helped to prepare is shared.
10.45 am Tidying up time and lunch preparation.
11.00 am Circle time incorporating songs, finger rhymes and movement.
11.15 am Lunch sharing the food prepared during the morning together
11.30 am Outside time. Free play, gardening, woodworking, caring for the environment.
1.00 pm Inside for story
1.15 pm Home time.