Early Years

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Early Years

Parent & Child Groups: Birth to 3½ years

Parent and Child sessions offer a warm welcome and a taste of a Steiner Waldorf Early Years setting.  We intend for the sessions to be a nourishing experience for both parent and child.  Often it is the child’s first experience of being in a group; through this, they begin to learn social skills such as playing alongside others and sharing. Through their natural forces of imitation, they join in seasonal songs, verses and movement at circle time; they enjoy a social snack together around the table and they learn to sit and watch a little seasonal puppet story. There is lots of time to play. We provide very simple toys that are hand crafted from natural materials, which feed the senses and nurture the imagination.  While the children play, parents can enjoy a cup of tea, relax and share with each other the delights and difficulties of bringing up young children. Sometimes there will be a seasonal craft activity or we may bake bread together.

Parent and Child sessions are held from 9 to 11:30 in the morning.

We do not have a “drop in” session, families are asked to book a place and pay in advance for a term. This provides a known group for both the children and parents, enabling support and friendships to grow.

If you are interested in joining one of our groups, please email schooloffice@stpaulssteinerschool.org stating your child’s full name and date of birth, your full name and relationship to the child, your address and telephone number.  We will then contact you as soon as we have a place available.

There is a fee per session, payable termly in advance, via bank transfer and not refundable. A second child discount is available. Once your booking has been confirmed you will receive an invoice in the post.

Attendance to Parent and Child sessions does not guarantee entry to the Kindergarten. If you wish to join the waiting list for the Kindergarten please attend one of our open tours.

Kindergartens

St Pauls has four Kindergartens – Rosebush, Mulberry Bush, Chestnut Tree and Apple Tree, each for a mixed age group of children aged 3 to 6½ years. Children stay in the same Kindergarten with the same teacher for three years, creating much-needed consistency in early childhood. Having created a caring, homely environment, each Kindergarten teacher seeks to foster in the children self-initiated, free, creative play and many hours each day are dedicated to this. Rudolf Steiner referred to play as ‘the work of childhood.’ Simple toys and natural materials stimulate the use of fantasy and imagination, which are nourished by the teacher with seasonal stories, fairy tales, puppet plays, songs, rhymes and rhythmic movement.

The children participate in a range of artistic and domestic activities such as painting, sewing, woodwork, chopping vegetables, baking bread, cleaning and gardening. There is a period of outdoor play each day in all weathers and once a week each Kindergarten goes for a nature walk. Each week each Kindergarten has a Eurythmy session, taught by a trained Eurythmist. Kindergarten life follows strong daily, weekly, and seasonal rhythms highlighted by the celebration of the festivals throughout the year.

A typical day includes: Free creative play and activities indoors, tidy-up time, ring time, shared snack, garden time (free creative play and activities outdoors) and story/puppet play.

Kindergarten starts at 8:15am and finishes at 1pm every weekday. Children attend all 5 mornings.

After Kindergarten we offer an optional Lunch Club which includes a rest, cooked lunch and play until 3:30pm. (Lunch Club needs to be booked and paid for separately a term in advance. Children may attend between 1 and 5 sessions.)

Children who are 3 and 4 years old are eligible for the Nursery Education Grant: the school will help parents claim this grant.

If you wish to join the waiting list for the Kindergarten please attend one of our Open Tours.

Transition from Kindergarten to Class 1

During their third and final year of Kindergarten the children take part in special activities, working closely with their teacher.  They have extra roles and responsibilities eg. helping younger children put on their waterproofs or washing up after snack. They complete special projects, eg. weaving, woodworking, dyeing and spinning yarn, making dolls or hobby horses.

During the last half term of the year, all the sun children from all four Kindergartens (the Sunshine group) are brought together at story time on Fridays, to be told longer, more complex fairytales which require increased attention and listening skills. This also supports transition, as it is the first time that the rising Class 1 group sit together in a circle.

Towards the end of the year the Kindergarten teachers take the Sunshine group offsite for a picnic and games in a local green space.  Children joining Class 1 from other settings are also invited.

Throughout the year, once a week, the sun children from each Kindergarten, usually a group of around 5 or 6 children, have an outdoor gardening session with our early years gardening teacher. They enjoy extended physical activities through gardening and activities, more challenging games and skipping.  Activities include caring for the garden: digging, planting, watering, making beds for planting, labelling, raking and weeding.  Additional activities may include making paper, tea bags and clay pots.

During the summer term, all rising Class 1 children are presented in Child Study to the college of teachers in a series of meetings. When their class teacher has been appointed, he or she is able to meet with the kindergarten teachers to discuss each child more fully. On the first day of the first term, the Class 1 Ceremony includes the children being greeted by their Kindergarten teacher then meeting their Class 1 teacher and being led by her/him to their first school assembly

Parents of this age group are invited to attend an Open Tour for the school (classes 1-8).

Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage

Alongside the Steiner Waldorf curriculum, we work with and integrate the Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage (setting the standards for learning, development and care for children from birth to five.) This is commonly known as the EYFS. The EYFS covers seven areas of learning. Of these, the three prime areas are Physical Development, Personal, Social and Emotional Development and Communication and Language. The four secondary areas of learning are Mathematics, Literacy, Understanding the World and Expressive Arts and Design.

There are some areas of the EYFS that Steiner Waldorf Kindergartens have exemptions from or modifications to. There is complete exemption from the whole of the Literacy aspect plus modifications to Mathematics, Understanding the World and Expressive Arts and Design. These exemptions are because we do not actively teach Literacy and Numeracy in the Early Years, nor do we use computer technology in the Kindergarten.

We also have exemption from the assessment regulations of the EYFS and no longer complete the 5 year old end of EYFS profile.  Instead a report is written at the end of the academic year combining the Steiner curriculum and the EYFS seven areas of learning. For further information on the EYFS please ask your Kindergarten teacher or see: http://www.foundationyears.org.uk/eyfs-statutory-framework/