In our Kindergarten classes (Junior & Senior Infants) the emphasis is very much on the children’s active doing. Children learn by walking in the woods and climbing trees; by uninhibited self-directed play indoors and outdoors; through story-telling; watching and performing puppet shows; through sewing, felting, weaving, chopping vegetables, baking, painting, drawing, sweeping and washing up.
Teachers provide a meaningful environment rich in story-telling, puppetry, children’s verses and songs. These activities that hone the child’s gross and fine motor skills, the rhythmic pattern of the day, and the rich language surrounding the children, form the foundation for the mastering of numeracy and literacy skills which begins in Class 1.
A haven for the 4 to 6 year old, kindergarten offers a rich foundation for the young child and new family. Rhythm underpins the life of the young child as activities are tuned to the seasons, the months and the days. Imaginative play, simple natural toys, song and story all support the focus of nurturing and strengthen the senses and the physical body of the child.
Each day is marked with a different activity such as planting in the garden, bread baking, painting, walking in the woods, cleaning and sweeping, a seasonal craft activity such as candle dipping or working with fleece, and festivals such as Saint Brigit’s Day. The rhythms of greeting, of ring time where verses, games and stories are brought to the children, and of sharing a meal together anchor each day in the comfort of an anticipated and innate order.
Irish is interwoven through verses and stories and many other cultures are brought in the stories of the year either through puppet shows or the teacher’s narration. Stories and their shaping and melodious power are vital to the life of the kindergarten. The repetition of rhythms and the pictures of a story are carefully chosen for the sense of universal connection and depth they offer the eager child.
Meal times are shared and the give and take of conversation is cultivated. The food shared is often grown and prepared by the children and is all organic.The strength and enthusiasm of the young child who is supported in this way enables the child to step towards formal schooling kindled with a love for life. The kindergarten serves as a bridge between the familiar world of the home and the new world of the school.
Many of our kindergarten children come to us from Brigit’s Hearth, another local Steiner initiative offering childcare for 1-4 year olds in a warm and inviting setting.