WONDER GARDEN (PRE-SCHOOL) and KINDERGARTEN
Prairie Hill Waldorf School believes that early childhood, from birth to age seven, is a unique period of life that deserves respect, guidance, nurture, and time.
The child’s early education is best served through an active participation in purposeful work that is led by the teacher and includes: cooking, woodworking, sewing, cleaning, and gardening. The creative arts complement this practical work as children paint with watercolors, draw with beeswax crayons, learn songs and poems, and participate in puppetry and simple drama.
The cornerstone of childhood is imaginative, uninterrupted play with open-ended toys made of natural materials which can be continually transformed. Social and relational skills are built as the children move through the day negotiating their free play, practicing table manners, helping one another as needed, and taking an active role in righting their mistakes.
Teachers, serving as models, bring the children the nurturing arts of consistent routines, clear boundaries, bodily care, and daily work and rest. The Early Childhood programs are built around the belief that children thrive in a mixed-age environment with a consistent care provider.
The early childhood program provides a rich language environment. Circle Time builds a love of language as the teacher brings a wide range of poetry, songs and verses in an imaginative theme or story to the children accompanied by suitable gestures and movements. As they sing and dance the child’s capacity for auditory processing, speech articulation and feeling for rhyme and rhythm are strengthened and nourished.
Children gain experiences of ordering, sequencing, adding, subtracting, and dividing by the direct manipulation of objects. Through the practical activities of baking, cooking and doing handwork, the children experience measurement and counting as they watch one step follow another. Circle time offers the opportunity to match rhythmical counting with body movements such as clapping and stepping that help form the basis for learning math later. As children move in space, developing their sense of spatial orientation, the foundation of geometry is laid.
The storytelling curriculum of fairytales and multicultural stories provides, in picture form, a glimpse of far away places and often long ago times. Verses, songs, nature stories and immersion in nature reveal the plants and animals that are part of the young child’s world.
Children naturally experiment with the laws of physics when they engage in play building fulcrums, obstacle courses, pulleys and balance beams. There is chemistry in the dipping of candles or felting of wool as well as in cooking and baking. The children are exposed to botany in their outdoor gardening. Feeding the chickens, finding animal tracks and discovering the homes and habits of the animals outside introduce the children to zoology.
Children color freely with a spectrum of both block and stick beeswax crayons, experiencing large strokes of color as well as line drawing. They paint using the wet-on-wet watercolor technique, exploring the primary colors and how they blend together. Beeswax is used for its pleasant smell, texture and ease in warming. The children use their fingertips to warm the beeswax and begin the process of thinning and modeling.
Young children hear many stories and see a wide variety of puppet and marionette plays. After hearing a story many times, they may even help to enact it with the teacher. As the children play, they create their own simple puppet shows and plays.
There is singing throughout the day and the seasons in support of the development of rhythmic breathing. Songs introduce activities, support the children through transitions, and accompany Circle Time activities. Melodies and rhythms float freely fostering the dreamy nature of the young child. Instruments such as xylophones, drums, and flutes embellish circle time, storytelling and puppetry.
Development of the physical body is fundamental to the young child. Children explore a large range of physical activity through practical daily work such as grinding grain, sawing, kneading and chopping. Outdoor play, such as gardening, swinging, sledding, hiking, climbing, running and exploring the woods, all provide for healthy physical development.
The children engage in handwork projects as modeled by the teacher and learned by way of imitation. Projects include paper crafts, yarn projects, sewing, woodworking, felting, and candle dipping all with an emphasis on the process as opposed to the finished product. Snack preparation (baking, chopping vegetables, and grating) and clean-up (toys, dishes, and laundry) also support fine motor development.
Kindergarten for children ages 4 to 6 years
“Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited.
“Imagination circles the world” – Albert Einstein
In early childhood, young children are nurtured in a home-like environment. Their days include time in nature, artistic activities, creative play with natural toys, stories, songs, and practical activities such as building, sewing and cooking. The curriculum fosters the curiosity and joy of childhood and builds the self confidence and pre-academic skills that become the foundation for formal learning in the grades.
All elements of the kindergarten are guided by trained teachers who deeply understand how your child learns – engaging him or her intellectually, emotionally and physically. The curriculum is supported by a strong oral tradition that provides rich language experiences that are successful in cultivating good speech and expression. This approach exposes your child to significantly larger vocabularies than those found in early-reader programs, allowing her or him to expand their literacy skills through dramatization, poetry, puppet plays, songs, storytelling and drawings – creating a foundation in reading and writing.
WONDER GARDEN (Pre-school) 1 class
For ages 2 years, 9 months (by Sept. 1) to 4 years
3 Day Wonder Garden (M, T, W) 8:30 a.m. to 3:15 p.m.
KINDERGARTEN 2 classes
Ages 4 (by May 1) to 6 years
3 Day (M, T, W) 8:30 a.m. to 3:15 p.m.
5 Day (M, T, W, F) 8:30 a.m. to 3:15 p.m.
(Thursdays) 8:30 a.m. to 2:10 p.m.
Before and Afternoon care programs available for an additional fee.
Call Susan Koppa McClurg at 262-646-7497 or email her with questions or to schedule a tour!
The Kindergarten in the Waldorf School*
The early childhood teacher in a Waldorf school works with the young child first by creating a warm, beautiful and loving home-like environment, which is protective and secure and where things happen in a predictable, regular manner. Here she 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 (for example, 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. She does so by 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.
Sequencing, sensory integration, eye-hand coordination tracking, appreciating the beauty of language, and other basic skills necessary for the foundation of academic excellence, are fostered in the Kindergarten. In this truly natural, loving and creative environment, the children are given a range of activities and the structure that help them prepare for the next phase of school life.
*This article originally appeared in the AWSNA publication, Windows into Waldorf: An Introduction to Waldorf Education. A special thanks to author David Mitchell who generously allowed for its use.
The early years of a child’s life are full of wonder and joy while also being the most critical years of development. Parent-Child Playgroup at Prairie Hill not only provides children a rich environment for exploration and play, but also offers parents support in creating a healthy home life.
Deepen your relationship with your child as you enter their world of imagination, initiative, and wonder. Enjoy this opportunity to increase awareness of your amazing role as parent, and learn creative and simple ways to support your child’s developing capacities.
Morning Glory Playgroup Parent-Child Classes – for parents and children infancy through 5 years
Our morning rhythm will offer you the chance to:
- Prepare healthy and delicious snacks for your child
- Learn songs, games, finger plays, rhymes and stories to delight your child
- Complete simple and original craft projects
- Receive support as you share the joy and challenges of parenting
- Form long-lasting friendships
- Spend time in the meadow and woods
- Apply time-tested methods of the Waldorf philosophy to your parenting
Classes meet one time per week for two hours in the Playgroup Classroom and include outdoor time.
Snack and supply fees are included in the registration cost.
If you have any questions, please reach Emily Witkowski, Playgroup Teacher, at 262-646-7497 or email herRegister for Summer Playgroup