In our Kindergarten, inspired by the Waldorf philosopphy, the magic and wonder of childhood are protected through an approach that nurtures the young child's healthy physical, emotional and mental development. The kindergarten-age child learns through imitation and activity, lives in a world of imagination, and expresses himself or herself largely through creative play and practical work projects.
The Kindergarten Program (for 4 & 5 yr. olds)
& 1st - 3rd Grades Program (for 6 - 9 year olds)
Educational PhilosophyThe Mountain School provides an environment that sets the foundation for a life-long love of learning and holistic balanced living. Our learning environment and our programs strive to awaken and encourage exploration equally through the head, heart, and hands (thinking, feeling and willing). Learning becomes much more than memorizing facts … learning becomes an engaging voyage to discover the world and oneself while the magic and wonder of childhood are protected and respected.
Teaching from the Whole to the Parts: Waldorf Education is committed to the principle of teaching children from the whole to the parts – from the concrete to the abstract. This means we begin educating the young child through the immediate, hands on environment, giving them ample developmental experiences without requiring them to relate to distant abstractions (subject matter with which they have no personal experience), nor to separate out cognitive activity from emotional or physical activity. We also avoid instruction but rather teach through modeling the activities involved. This teaching method aligns with natural childhood propensities for movement and imitation. Through abundant opportunities for the child to have real-life experiences at school which we then explore through circle, story and art we begin to build the young child’s symbolic cognitive capacities while retaining the important “living” connection to the subject matter. If the child’s introduction to abstractions is handled carefully, without early demands to learn about things to which they have no living connection, then the student’s love of learning and motivation for exploration of the world is built on a solid foundation. If a child becomes accustomed to learning about life in an entirely abstract way, an important part of their human nature is stifled and a life-long love of learning can be difficult to establish.
Establishing Rhythms: One of the primary tasks of the growing child, of parents and early child educators is to bring the child’s nerve-sense system (brain, sense organs & central nervous system), metabolic-limb system (digestion, elimination, and reproductive organs and limbs), and rhythmic system (heart and lungs) into a healthy working balance. We support this development by establishing regular, predictable rhythms in conjunction with the
natural rhythms of day and night, the days of the week, the moon’s monthly cycle and the four seasons through daily, weekly and yearly schedules which we celebrate through story, song, dance, games, crafts, food and festivals. We also establish a “breathing” rhythm to our day by moving between outward, more physical activities (such as free play) and quieter, more inward activities (such as story time). Just as we become uncomfortable if required to hold our breath in too long or are kept from taking a breath in when we need to, the young child finds the greatest amount of ease and comfort if their activities reproduce balanced, steady in breaths and out breaths. Following familiar rhythms also benefits young children emotionally as it provides stability and continuity in a world which is still unfamiliar to them. The development of the internal and external body with rhythm is why being part of this class for several years is especially beneficial to the student.
The Kindergarten Program – this is our 5 hour program each day of the week for our four and five year old students. Four year olds may attend part time for three mornings per week. it is recommended that five year olds attend five mornings per week. This program follows the model of a traditional Waldorf kindergarten. The curriculum centers around concrete subject matter explored through movement, healthy sensory integration, the arts (both practical and expressive), and storytelling – both indoors and outside. We do not engage these students in formal academic work which requires them to sit still and deprives them of rich sensory experiences, but rather explore language, nature, mathematics, and social studies in a living context always grounded in movement and sensory experience. We have children do and feel their learning experiences rather then merely think about them.
The 1st , 2nd & 3rd Grade Program– This is our three year program for our six through nine year old students. It is designed to prepare them for transitioning into local elementary schools at ideally fourth grade, after they have received a developmentally appropriate education during their early childhood. In this class we will be introducing the students to the world of formal academic learning in a gentle and creative way according to the Waldorf School’s first, second and third grade Main Lesson curriculums. There is a three level component to this program for teaching math, languages, music, form drawing, painting, simple woodworking skills, nature science and writing skills.
1st Grade- Six year olds attend the morning lessons (concentration exercises, advanced movement, speech work, and introductory music lessons) and most of the specialty classes (Spanish, woodworking, math games, formal painting lessons, nature science walks) with the older children. They also receive three one-hour Introduction to Language Arts & Mathematics lessons per week. During these lessons they will be introduced very gently to formal classroom instruction including sitting at desks and doing book work. These are only times in which they will be asked to sit still and learn. While in this level the students stay at school three days per week until 2:30 p.m. They are dismissed the other two days at 1:30.
2nd Grade– Seven year olds attend school until 2:30 five days per week. It is at this level that they regularly do formal academic work including sitting at desks and main lesson book work practicing the technical aspects of writing, reading and arithmetic.
3rd Grade – Eight year olds attend school for the same hours as in Level II. The primary difference between Level II and Level III is these students master writing, reading, and basic technical mathematics. They are given exponentially greater responsibility on the farm and in all of their specialty classes.
For the 2013-2014 school year, we are planning to add a 4th grade class and for the 2014-2015 school year, we hope to open as a Charter School Kindergarten - 5th Grade! Contact Mary Gervase for more details