Our two-year kindergarten program is a developmentally–based child-centered environment. This setting allows each child the opportunity to reconstruct the world around them through play, social interaction, and group activities. The daily activities lead the children into song, music, rhythmical gestures, movement, puppet shows and plays. The daily routine includes gardening, baking, artistic activities, and nature studies. Kindergarten, “a child’s garden”, is not yet a time to expose the child to academic pressures. It is a time to preserve childhood. Their work is their play and their play encourages healthy social/emotional development. Kindergarten serves as the foundation for learning in an environment of community, cooperation, and respect.
At the Novato Charter School we offer two Kindergarten classes of mixed age children between the ages of 4-6 years old. It is a two-year program for the children who turn 5 by December 2nd of the school year for which the applicant is seeking enrollment. Children who turn 6 by June 1st prior to the school year for which the applicant is seeking enrollment will have one year of kindergarten.
The child in Kindergarten thrives in an environment of love and warmth, rhythm and predictability, where the child feels safe and held. The key components of our curriculum are summarized below.
Young children are very open to their environment, and their capacity to live deeply into all that surrounds them is at the root of their learning. We call that capacity Imitation. We strive to provide an environment worthy of imitation, where children can play imaginatively and creatively, gradually developing a balanced emotional life which will lead in turn to a solid and creative capacity for thinking. We strive to present our young children with a world of beauty that will nurture their sense of ease, joy, and peace.
Children engage in a broad range of skill building, allowing them to expand their attention and focus, improve their dexterity and develop an appreciation for aesthetics. Painting, coloring, beeswax modeling, wet wool felting, sewing, and finger crocheting are a few examples of the artistic opportunities in our program. Practical activities may include snack preparation, washing dishes, setting the table, chopping vegetables, baking bread, watering plants and making toys. These practical experiences are often connected to the seasons, and carried out with as much independence by the children as possible. Working with their hands provides a foundation for focused attention, critical thinking, problem solving and provides children with an ability to create purposeful objects of beauty and function.
Story Time and Puppetry
Story time and puppetry play important roles in our curriculum. When children hear stories they develop an ability to listen, to remember, to sequence the elements of a story, pick up the subtleties of characterization, and perhaps most important of all, to imagine. The teachers practice the arts of storytelling and puppetry and invite the listener into a world of once upon a time. The teller’s pacing, intonation, gestures and expression all support the children’s growing vocabulary, listening comprehension, and attention span.
Young children come to know and understand themselves and the world around them through movement. Our kindergarten circle time allows the children to live freely and naturally into their joy of movement, while simultaneously stimulating their imagination. Woven out of familiar daily activities and of nature, the rhymes and songs in our circles nourish the child’s language development, stimulate their natural delight in singing and invite them to participate in a flowing rhythm.
At the heart of our early childhood program is our understanding that self-initiated play is critical to the healthy development of all young children. As soon as they learn something new, they start to play with their new capacities, practicing and testing their skills until they tackle more and more difficult tasks. Therefore, ample time for creative play is part of each morning. Open-ended toys made from natural materials, like silk scarves, wool puppets, wooden blocks, and shells, acorns and stones collected outside, nourish the child’s developing senses, flex their creative muscles and imaginative capacities, and further develop their emerging fine motor skills. In addition, structures they can move and explore with their whole bodies, crawl over and into will help to develop their gross motor coordination. Through the activity of imaginative play, children develop physically, mentally, socially, and emotionally.
Adapted from “Waldorf Education, A Family Guide”, “Alliance Overview” and extended by the Novato Charter School Kindergarten Team.