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ABOUT KINDERGARTEN READINESS
Kindergarten readiness is a topic of considerable activity of late. Please note, The Secret Garden serves children from 2 to 6 (or first grade) and holds that these first years are of paramount importance to the child’s continued success. Even though there is a push to have children go to “Kindergarten”, it is well known in the Waldorf and holistic education arena that the multi-age group typical of many Waldorf early childhood programs is an ideal environment for the children to complete their development prior to entering first grade. This program is what is traditionally known as a Kindergarten. First grade, or at the loss of the first teeth is the time for children to begin more formal instruction and engagement of their intellect. Prior to that we are cultivating strong physical body, creativity and sense-of-self and wonder.
Readiness to continue on to first grade is determined not merely by the child's date of birth, but by observation of a very broad spectrum of physical, emotional and intellectual indicators.
Referencing Paula’s education and experience in Remedial/Therapeutic Education, these indicators, combined with our direct knowledge and observations of each child's strengths and challenges, gauge readiness for academic learning. Our goal is not only the immediate success of the child in first grade, but also his/her long-term success throughout the grade school years. A child who is ready socially, emotionally and physically will do well to move on to first grade, as a child who is not ready in these areas will benefit from an additional year in Kindergarten in order to complete their development.
WHY IS THIS CALLED A KINDERGARTEN?
Kindergarten , (literally meaning 'garden for the children') is a preschool educational approach based on playing, singing, practical activities such as drawing, and social interaction as part of the transition from home to school. Such institutions were originally created in the late 18th century in Bavaria and Strasbourg to serve children whose parents both worked outside home. The term was coined by the German Friedrich Fröbel, whose approach globally influenced early-years education. Today, the term is used in many countries to describe a variety of educational institutions and learning spaces for children ranging from two to seven years of age, based on a variety of teaching methods.
HOW DO YOU DISCIPLINE THE CHILDREN?
Our job in caring for your child and family is greatly facilitated when there is a feeling of mutual support. Following are some suggestions for how to work together to provide the best experience for all.
Guiding Behavior (rather than discipline)
Communication with children works best when it is clear and uncomplicated. Engaging them with endless decision-making questions about what they want to wear, play with or do, tends to overwhelm young children, and they can often feel overly conscious, even burdened. Children need for us to provide them with the security that can come from our making healthy decisions for them.
Here are some hints based on our experience:
When home and school share the same or similar philosophy, the children feel more deeply nourished.
WHAT ELSE MATTERS?
Audrey McAllen, a well-known Waldorf educator, states that two of the most important educational factors in the life of young child are learning how to sleep and to eat. Sleeping is a rhythmic activity akin to breathing. Monitoring your child's sleeping and waking, meals, amount of play, and stimulation during the day helps to create a rhythmic life pattern. A special bedtime ritual of perhaps lighting a candle and a simple story or verse is food for sound, deep sleep.
During the first 7 years of life, children absorb everything in their environment through their senses. Exploring and experimenting within their surroundings, children constantly have new experiences. They take in every word we speak (the sounds of words particularly interest them as well as the tone of voice we use). These daytime experiences are often processed at night, so consequently a healthy amount of sound sleep is necessary for the full digestion of the day's experiences.
Premature exposure to media can work against the healthy development of children. Exposure to media inhibits a child's natural ability to create worlds entirely from imagination. From our experience, allowing the children the freedom and space to develop their imagination to its fullest extent during the early years will enable them to be more self-sufficient, purposeful, creative problem solvers, later on. Media exposure is also inherently passive, encouraging neither exercise nor activity.
For these reasons and more, we strongly urge parents to limit their children's exposure to electronic media in its various forms. The ideal we strive for is no media exposure in the early childhood years. In these early developmental stages, when children learn through imitation, (first 7 years), being mindful of the images we provide is key. “Is _x,y,z__ worthy of imitation?” is a useful question to ask ourselves. Often, children may be adversely affected causing disturbances in their behavior, sleep or play activities. These disturbances are frequently normalized, as the way things are these days. It does not have to be this way, at all. Media-influenced behavior tends to be a detriment to the atmosphere of the classroom. We have found that a home as free of electronic media as possible contributes to an improved quality of life for the whole family and our school culture. Media mindfulness...our children count on us.
SOME OTHER PERSPECTIVES