Rhythm and Routine
In a Steiner kindergarten, the day unfolds with ease as the children move from one activity to another, gently guided by their teachers.
The mornings are structured to allow children to take joy in big free movements at various times and to enjoy sitting quietly at others. The children quickly become familiar with the shape of the day. The teachers create a predictable routine, where children know what is next and relax into each activity. Each day follows the familiar pattern, beginning with a play outside in the warmer months and inside in the colder months, which the children love. The movement and fresh air satisfy their need to be energetic and run, allowing them to relax and become absorbed in stories and play when they move indoors.
Each day the kindergarten children and the teachers sit down to enjoy a simple meal together. We use fresh seasonal produce and organic ingredients to make our daily lunch. Teachers and children come together to prepare the food and children can enjoy the rich sensory experiences of the process. Together we set the table so that it is beautiful and inviting.
Our meals become part of our weekly rhythms which feeds the children’s need for order and security, i.e. “Is it bun day today?” Where possible we use the food harvested from our garden so the children can experience, planting, tending, harvesting and feasting!
Play in Early Childhood
In kindergarten, teachers strive to create the space to support children’s active self-directed play. Creative play is like a spring that bubbles up from deep within a child. It is refreshing and enlivening. It is a natural part of the make-up of every universal child. The child’s love of learning is intimately linked with a zest for play. Whether children are working on a new physical skill, social relations, or coming to new ideas, they approach life with a playful spirit. There is no distinction between work and play.
In their play, using open-ended resources, children create themes and motifs which reflect and re-order their understanding of the world as it is and as they will go on to create it. Play requires fantasy and imagination, the very foundations of flexibility and creativity which also promote self-confidence and self-esteem.
“Play embraces children’s total experience. They use it to tell their stories; to be funny and silly; to challenge the world; to imitate it; to engage with it; to discover and understand it; and to be social. They also use play to explore their inmost feelings. In a single game – playing alone or with friends – the child can switch play modes, making new discoveries which lead to new thinking; then being reminded of something else and changing the play accordingly, and suddenly being swamped by feelings, which require their own corresponding set of images, propelling the game in yet another direction. Like dreams, play is not ordered and rational. It does not give priority to one kind of experience or one kind of knowledge over another.” (Sally Jenkinson, The Genius of Play, 2002)
“Play is the foundation course for all vocations from Mothers and Fathers, to architects, nurses, dentists, astronauts, filmmakers, designers, and mathematicians, scientists…all have their geneses in children’s play. Play serves as the apprenticeship for all higher learning.” (Pennie Brownlee)