Our Outdoor Kindergarten programme is based on a simple yet essential approach. Meeting the child’s core needs of rhythm, freedom to move, good nutrition, imitation, sleep, the proper clothing and time to do things on their own terms. A method inspired by the Waldorf Early Childhood teaching philosophy. Teaching is based on imitation rather than direct instruction. Learning is enabled through regular and reliable rhythms, and the children come to know what to expect on a daily and weekly basis. Our outdoor Kindergarten programme supports children's natural development and establishes a strong foundation, something to build on for the rest of their life.
The outdoor kindergarten environment includes a playground, where children play with wood, leaves, shovels and wheelbarrows. A garden is interwoven into this space and is a place where the children learn about the cycles of the seasons. We feel this enhances the creative aspect of their play and also provides them with an opportunity to observe nature. Our circle, story, and festivals are all connected to the changes observed in the garden and are integral to our teaching approach. In addition, every Thursday the children hike to the nearby trails of the Royal Botanical Gardens in Westdale where they experience nature and the changing seasons in the forest.
The morning snack includes an organic grain (alternating between oatmeal, millet, rice and bread baked by the staff and children) and a bowl of cut fruit. Families contribute one fruit per child per day to the fruit bowl. Soup made by the staff and children is served in the winter months. Meat and dairy products are not served. We strictly enforce a nut-free policy to ensure a safe environment for all children.
For more information on an excellent example of an outdoor Waldorf kindergarten created 30 years ago by Helle Heckmann in Denmark called Nøkken please refer to this article.
Building the Future
With optimism and joy we look forward to beginning a new school year in our Kindergarten this coming September 2021. Our Waldorf Early Childhood inspired Kindergarten will continue to be an Outdoor program. Enhanced by the natural outdoor environment, we will be using the same Waldorf pedagogy with a strong daily rhythm that engages children with a gentle and holistic approach. We're committed to guiding children and their parents to overcome challenges in a caring and supportive environment.
Many tasks need to be done to keep our school going that are quite apart from the actual teaching of the children in the kindergarten. Since many hands make light work, parents are asked to sign up for a task such as laundry, grocery shopping, overseeing the library, and organizing parent meetings. In addition, all parents are expected to participate in the planning and running of the two major fundraisers, the Merryberry Market in November and the Mayfair in May. Each fall and spring, the families also gather one day to help with general outdoor maintenance of the garden.
Parents play a vital role in the success of not only the program, but also the school community. We hope to foster an atmosphere that is inclusive, supportive and engaging. We encourage all parents to ask questions, offer suggestions and raise concerns whenever they arise.