Curriculum: Nursery & Kindergarten
Story time & puppetry
Countering the noise of digital media, our teachers practice the arts of storytelling and puppetry. Creative adults inspire the same qualities in the children around them.
The teller’s pacing, intonation, gestures and expression all support the children’s growing vocabulary, listening comprehension and attention span. When children are told a story, they develop an ability to listen, to remember, to sequence the elements of a story, to hear the subtleties of characterization, and perhaps most important, to imagine.
As they listen they, “think the pictures”, creating a strong foundation for their emerging literacy skills.
Young children come to know and understand the world around them though movement. Our nursery and kindergarten circle time lets the children shift naturally into their joy of movement, while stimulating their imagination.
Woven out of familiar daily activities and experiences of nature, the rhymes and songs of our circle time nourish the child’s language development, stimulate their natural delight in singing and invite them to participate in a flowing rhythm.
Outdoor work & play
Creative Play time
At the heart of our early childhood program is our understanding that self-initiated play and hands-on learning is critical to the healthy development of all young children, so we allow ample time for creative play each morning.
We provide children with simple toys made from natural materials, like silk scarves, knitted wool puppets, wooden blocks, shells, acorns and even stones collected from their nature walks.
These materials nourish the child’s developing senses, exercise their creative muscles and help develop their emerging fine motor skills. Structures that they can move, crawl over and into, and explore with their whole bodies help develop gross motor coordination
Visual Arts, handwork & practical activities
Painting, coloring, beeswax modeling, sewing and finger knitting are just a few examples of the artistic activities in our program. Practical activities include snack preparation, washing and chopping vegetables, making chappathi’s, watering plants, polishing toys, mending, and repairing and making toys.
These hands-on experiences are often connected to the seasons, and carried out with as much independence by the children as possible.
Play and Movement
More than just fun, play and movement are essential to children’s social emotional, physical, and cognitive development.
Through play, young children create a world anew each day. They imagine a kingdom, construct a fort, or open a shop. In a moment, a train becomes a ship, then a rocket. Play gives children the chance to practice being in the world and process the things they experience.
Children thrive when there are plenty of opportunities for healthy movement. In addition to movement through free play, nursery and kindergarten children may go on field trips, work in the garden, and participate in eurythmy, a movement art unique to Waldorf education. There is time for crafts and painting, meal preparation, circle time activities. Engaged in the movement activities of the day, children develop fine and gross motor skills, integrate the senses, and learn to work cooperatively.
Foundations for Literacy
In many schools across the country, children are being pushed earlier and earlier with homework, high-stakes testing, and reading. While young children may learn the "de-coding" part of reading, they may also miss out on important foundations for literacy.
At San Francisco Waldorf School, nursery and kindergarten days are filled with storytelling, poetry, puppetry, and song. With careful attention to the beauty of language, teachers share folk tales and fairy tales; children develop listening skills and form inner pictures that support reading comprehensive in later years.
There is time for movement, painting, outdoor play, and practical activities like cooking and baking. Each of these simple activities engages young children’s imaginations while supporting sensory integration and the development of patterning, tracking, sequencing, and logical thinking - the foundation for literacy and numeracy.
By the end of kindergarten, children cross an important developmental milestone, moving away from a world of imagination towards a more concrete way of thinking. First graders are introduced to the alphabet in an imaginative, pictorial way: each letter drawn into their Main Lesson book reflects the character of a story - “B” for butterfly, “K” for King, “M” for mountain, and so on. From the books that the children create, reading begins.
Reading takes off naturally in the coming years and an enthusiastic interest in books continues throughout. Across the grades, students are immersed in great literature and poetry, works that resonate with children at each stage of their development and impart universal stories of humankind.
When does technology serve as a tool for learning (and a simple source of entertainment) without interfering with a child’s development?
In the early years, children learn through imitation and imagination; the latest scientific research confirms that stimulating media images are difficult for children to process and can hinder learning. Grade school students learn best through engaging, experiential, creative lessons. A media-free environment supports learning and the development of strong social connections.
Through the years, a Waldorf education gives children space and time to develop, unencumbered by technological noise, into free and independent young adults - writers, artists, scientists, entrepreneurs, and perhaps the next innovators of the tech world.