The context of Australian children is, of course, vastly different to Europe of the 1920’s. This requires us to creatively adapt our methods in order to address the cultural and physical characteristics that make up the children’s world.
At Yallingup Steiner School we embrace the need to integrate our unique landscape and climate, Australian society and state and federal requirements when delivering learning experiences across the years.
The sequence of study has a progression based on numerous considerations and is enriched and deepened by each individual teacher.
This is an overview indicating some of the main areas of study:
The Kindergarten caters for 4, 5 and 6 year olds in an environment that allows children to learn through imitation and with activities that highlight the creative and skillful in truth and beauty. Creative play is the basis of the child’s “work” in the Kindergarten; it develops initiative, imagination and flexibility.
The Kindergarten teacher sees the kindy as a place where children can develop and grow in strength through a stable rhythm and routine before meeting the intellectual, technological and material challenges of later years.
Opportunities are created to experience the wonder and beauty of the changing seasons and to celebrate the festivals of the year. These celebrations bring the Kindergarten and the families together, thereby fostering and enriching the rhythm of the year in the child’s daily life.
In the Kindergarten the activities and approach support the development of the young child in readiness for more formal learning in the Primary school. We work to strengthen the natural development of the child through the use of language, song, storytelling, listening, fine and gross motor skills, through meaningful craft and artistic work, problem solving and through the joy of discovery.
Class One (Age 6/7)
The gradual change from activity and imitation in the kindergarten to more formal learning in Class 1 is facilitated by involving the feeling life - through stories, rhythm, pictures and song helping to connect new concepts to the child’s own experience. The child remains at one with the world and the class teacher helps form a cohesive group that respects each other and the inner authority of the teacher. The fairy tale world is the door that the children enter to discover moral realities, where good transforms evil.
Recorder playing is introduced during this year.
Class Two (Age 7/8)
Children have greatly extended their periods of concentration and memory allowing for more complex mathematical work and greater amounts of writing. They are capable of developing their own images and so rise from perception to concepts.
Study is based around Aesop’s fables, Celtic and Irish mythology, stories of saints and dreamtime stories with moral messages.
Class Three (Age 8/9)
There is great consideration of the change of consciousness over the next two years. An emerging sense of individuality is carefully nurtured.
Creation stories and heroes of the Old Testament give a sense of the “group soul,” and creation myths and nature stories give a sense of time, origin and belonging.
Study extends to address measurement, grammar and musical notation.
Observations of farming practice and building styles connects children to the active engagement of individuals to their communities.
Class Four (Age 9/10)
Children of this age are challenged with work and more work.
They are encouraged to channel their individual gifts through a multitude of tasks.
Individuality is encouraged in a new way and a new relationship to the class teacher may be fostered.
Authority can now be supplemented with inner discipline responsibility and moral strength.
Norse myths, Icelandic and Finnish tales provide a picture of good spirited challenges to the Gods’ authority and see adventure and courage produce positive results.
Aboriginal tales lead children into the relationship between man and animal and local geography and history.
Class Five (Age 10/11)
This is a time between childhood and puberty and the children are provided with intellectual, moral and social challenges.
There is a move from myth to history and the focus is to find balance between the physical and the spiritual and between the practical and the ideal.
Children are met with picture images of Ancient civilisations; India, Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece.
Major themes include;
- Environmental Studies and Geography.
Class Six (Age 11/12)
Class six is a time of change and children are most inquisitive about the outside world.
Teachers seize the opportunity to focus on the goodness and beauty in the world.
Models of self-governing societies are explored and elements of ancient Roman culture are covered.
Healthy criticism and debate encourages children to seek fairness and also highlights the need for compassion as well as courage.
Children are introduced to the study of;
- Various religious outlooks
- The Middle Ages
- The mineral world encompassing 2nd and 3rd dimensional geometry.
"The man that hath no music in himself,
Nor is not moved with concord of sweet sounds,
Is fit for treasons, stratagems and spoils;
The motions of his spirit are dull as night
And his affections dark as Erebus:
Let no such man be trusted..."
Lorenzo from The Merchant of Venice (Act V, Scene 1)
Engaging with Music is recognised as one of the more important educational activities.
YSS is steadily developing an across the school music program involving all the children in the School.
Singing with the children forms the foundation of Music in the school. From the first day of Playgroup to the close of a graduation ceremony, singing lifts the burdens of the soul and brings community together in harmony and peaceful accord. It is integral to learning, communicating and celebration. All teachers sing with the children.
Recorders are introduced in Class 1 in response to the children’s growing awareness beyond themselves and their voices. It is the extension of their breath and of singing, yet also an external instrument.
Currently Classes 1, 2 and 3 are taught recorder by their Class Teacher. The older classes are being taught by Adrian May.
Through the initiative of Claire Rewa, all children from Class 3 on are being taught the Ukulele. The school has two class sets of instruments. It is wonderful to hear them sing and play together.
From the recorder and the Ukulele the children are able to successfully graduate readily to other instruments.
Handwork and Craft
‘He who works with his hands is a labourer
He who works with his hands and head is a craftsman
He who works with his hands heart and head is an artist’
St Francis of Assisi
Handwork and craft are integral to the Steiner curriculum. These activities engage the children’s will (hands), Imagination and feeling (heart) and thinking (head) in a way that develops and strengthens the natural organism and grows the child’s self-esteem and sense of well- being.
Handwork projects are introduced developmentally, with some projects (for example cross-stitch in Class 4) given to support the children as they transition from one developmental stage to another. Handwork and craft projects are also often aligned with the main lesson, where they can bring an experiential depth and understanding to main lesson content. Research has shown that language development and hand skills are closely linked. Children that learn to count and keep track of knitting stitches and to choose colours and patterns are having a learning experience in more than one discipline.
In Steiner schools we strive to produce handwork and craft articles that are both practical as well as aesthetically pleasing. Some of the handwork (or soft craft) skills taught at our school include felting (wet and dry); knitting; basket weaving; cross-stitch; weaving; silk painting and sewing and embroidery.
Hard craft skills include clay work, print making, mosaic tile work, papier-mâché; lantern making; sculpture in clay and stone and woodwork.
In all handwork and craft projects the children are exposed to a wide range of beautiful, high quality natural materials.