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“True observation of man sees in the growing human being a work of divine creation.” – Rudolf Steiner, A Modern Art of Education, 1923
Rudolf Steiner gave indications for the care and education of the young child according to the needs of the child’s developing physical body and its growing capacities for movement. Steiner’s picture of the young child emphasizes the incarnating process of the soul and spirit of the child, and he describes the openness of the child to the environment in such a way that we see the child as “all sense-organ”. By this we mean that the child literally builds into himself not only the objective outer side of things, but also their inner nature and even the moral atmosphere of the environment. In this “openness to the world”, the child has a much more immediate connection with these subtle qualities than the more intellectual adult. For this reason, the Kindergarten teachers strive to ensure that everything that is made available to the child is imbued with goodness, beauty and truth.
Engaging the Will Forces
“By a proper application of fundamental educational principles during the first seven years of childhood, the foundation is laid for the development of a strong and healthy will; for a strong and healthy will must have its support in well -developed forms of the physical body” – Rudolf Steiner, Education of the Child 1907
The Kindergarten environment and program is structured in such a way as to meet the needs of each individual child, as they make the transition between pre-school and the formal learning environment of the primary school. From our observations we see that
the young child wants to be physically active, learns by imitation, and lives in a world of “doing”, of will activity. For this reason Kindergarten provides an environment where learning through imitation is seen as a fundamental key to one’s work with children at this stage of childhood. Cognitive, social, emotional and physical skills are afforded equal value in the kindergarten and many different competencies are developed. The child needs time and opportunity to practice new skills: engaging in domestic activities… cleaning, sweeping, digging, weeding, building, kneading… all the things in fact that a child would see done and wish to imitate in the home; Kindergarten offers various artistic experiences, including water-colour painting, beeswax modeling, singing games and rhymes, story-telling, puppetry, sewing and wool crafts; and a joyous experience of the seasons and special occasions through Family festival celebrations.
“If a child plays so that they are satisfied, they will have the foundation for health, and the ability to do what they need to do in later life.” – Rudolf Steiner, The Spiritual Ground of Education 1922
A healthy balance between structured group activities and self-directed play is maintained. The Kindergarten environment provides time and materials that allows the child to use their fantasy and imagination. Play materials that have their origin in nature, eg wood with a variety of size, shape, form and colour, stones, shells, seed pods, pine cones; simple toys i.e. dolls and puppets, carved wooden animals, simple pieces of furniture and hand-crafted objects. In their play, the children create what happens around them; they create and build from these materials houses and cubbies, shops, rafts and boats, machines, hospitals, factories and they play with known storylines or made up scripts.