|Early Childhood Program|
“The importance of storytelling, of the natural rhythms of daily life, of the evolutionary changes in the child, of art as the necessary underpinning of learning, and of the aesthetic environment as a whole – all basic to Waldorf education for the past seventy years – are being ‘discovered’ and verified by researchers unconnected to the Waldorf movement.”
Sunfield is a delightful place for young children. Each child in our early childhood program is nurtured in a natural and loving home-like environment and nourished by daily woodland adventures and outdoor activities. Gardening, building, feeding the chickens, and visiting the farm animals highlight the children’s days. Our early childhood program includes a parent-toddler class and two preschool/kindergarten classes.
Our Early Childhood Classes for the 2013–2014 School Year
Buttercup Parent-Toddler Class
Join with other parents and young children for a morning of shared activities. Based in Sunfield's kindergarten room, Buttercup classes offer a child-centered introduction to Waldorf Early Childhood Education. The group will acknowledge and appreciate the seasons and festivals through circle times and crafts, and by exploring the farm. Each day includes outdoor play and visits to the gardens, meadows, and animals on the farm. Participants feed the farm animals, sing and rhyme, play, craft, eat, and together experience the wonder of children. The teacher gently guides the children through the morning’s activities, provides support for parenting questions and concerns, and introduces families to the Waldorf approach to early education. She is also available during the sessions, outside of Buttercup class times, to answer questions or offer Waldorf-based parenting support.
Swallow’s Nest Kindergarten Ages 3½ to 6
Sunflower Kindergarten Ages 3½ to 6
See Faculty & Staff for biographies of our teachers.
Play is the work of young children, and imitation is their special talent and natural way of learning. In the Waldorf preschool and kindergarten, play and imitation are carefully nurtured through daily and weekly activities that happen in a predictable, regular manner.
The daily activities at Sunfield include circle time, singing, nursery games, storytelling, indoor and outdoor creative play, and nature exploration. These are enveloped in a weekly rhythm of domestic, practical, and artistic activities that the children can readily imitate – handwork, baking, painting, crayon drawing, beeswax modeling, and gardening. These secure and familiar rhythms help to foster the young child’s healthy growth and development. As the daily and weekly activities are adapted to the the changing seasons and the festivals of the year, the larger rhythms of nature embrace and nurture the child.
The children wholeheartedly reenact the day’s guided activities in their free, creative playtime. Simple toys and playthings of natural materials, such as pine cones, shells, and stones, not only beautify the room but also allow each child to fully develop the power of imagination. Within this secure and predictable environment, the children can joyfully express wonder and enthusiasm for life.
Activities in Our Early Childhood Program Provide the Foundation for Academic Excellence
“If a child has been able to play, to give up his whole, loving being to the world around him, he will be able in the serious tasks of later life to devote himself with power and confidence to the service of the world.”
In the early childhood classes, daily songs and nursery rhymes cultivate intimacy with language, building literacy skills and the ability to use speech effectively. Listening to stories, watching puppet shows, and engaging in dramatic play strengthen the powers of memory and imagination, which build the capacity for dynamic and original thinking. Counting games and rhythmic activities build a solid foundation for mathematical skills, and activities such as sewing felt objects, baking bread, and gardening develop coordination and the ability to concentrate. Outside on the farm, nature explorations awaken a sense of awe and wonder, laying a firm foundation for a respectful treatment of the natural environment and developing the critical faculties required for future studies in the sciences.