From the Director:
EARLY CHILDHOOD Central to all is the preservation of childhood. Our Early Childhood teachers strive to preserve the innocence and innate wonder of early childhood by creating a secure, inviting, joyful environment. The day unfolds in a natural way following a dependable rhythm that gives the children a sense of security and consistency. Drawing, watercolour painting, beeswax modelling, baking, handwork, woodwork, storytelling, puppetry, and outdoor play are among the activities that nourish the childrenâ€™s natural sense of awe and wonder and create an environment worthy of imitation. At Great Oak, children bake bread, they develop dexterity through finger-knitting and working with beeswax, they tend a garden, and they are enriched with nature stories, puppet plays, storytelling and festivals. Seasonal activities such as planting bulbs, raking leaves, gathering fruit or making jam nurtures a reverence for the natural world.Toys provided in the Early Childhood programs are simple: wooden toys, shells, stones, logs, branches, colored fabrics, sheep's wool, and cloth dolls. With these simple toys, imaginative play is nurtured and transforms into creative, independent thought in later stages of learning. FIRST GRADE First grade students experience rich language opportunities through international fairy tales and folk tales. Reading instruction is approached with a focus on writing first as students create a self-illustrated story-based alphabet book, standard throughout Waldorf schools worldwide. Students in first grade are introduced to not only addition and subtraction, but also to multiplication and division at an early age giving them a well-rounded view of all four processes that occur with numbers. Introduction to numbers is brought through a qualitative approach and a strong emphasis on rhythm, movement, and active learning, rather than sole use of pencil/paper practice common in other schools. First Grade students experience watercolor painting, beeswax modeling, knitting, sewing, drama, and regular lessons in drawing. In Music, the first grade student experiences many opportunities for singing as well as pentatonic flute. Movement games and cooperative games are part of the weekly rhythm as are nature walks, and exposure to foreign languages.