Grade One Readiness and the Mixed Aged Kindergarten
Saltwater Waldorf School Kindergarten to Grade One Transition Policy
Children must turn 6 by June 30th of the year the child will begin grade one. This age requirement allows for the child to be ready for the demands of the grade one curriculum. The Kindergarten teacher, in collaboration with the upcoming grade one teacher, will determine grade one readiness on an individual basis. Physical, emotional and social abilities are considered, as well as age and intellectual readiness. Some indications for readiness include:
Loss of milk teeth
Elongation of trunk and limbs
Pronounced arches in waist, backs and feet
6 year molars beginning
Recollection memory (ability to consciously retrieve memories)
Ability to follow instructions and carry out a task
Ability for imagination (without props)
Ability to speak fluidly and express ideas clearly
Other aspects teachers will be considering:
Being able to verbalize needs without crying, becoming distraught or angry
Having good small and large muscle control
Showing an interest in activities, outside free play and carrying a project to completion
Listening to stories without interruption
Ability to clap and walk to a rhythm and skip along and sing with the teacher
About Saltwater Waldorf School's Mixed-Age Kindergarten
Saltwater School’s kindergarten children connect like a family to one another, as well as friends. The program consists of children ranging from 4 ½ to 6 ½ years. Children who turn 5 by December 31st are of kindergarten age. Because of the mixed ages, the children have the opportunity to care for one another in ways that may not happen in their own families. For example, students who are the only child discover what it is like to have brothers and sisters. A younger sibling may experience what it is like to lead, and help children who are younger.
Learning through play is also benefited by a mixed-age class. While older children plan out scenarios for play, younger children are still inspired by objects and surroundings. The younger child’s ideas prevent stagnancy in the older child’s play, while the older child creates more elaborate play for the group.
Along with the seasonal projects that the class completes, older students may work on a few special projects throughout the year. These projects help to enrich the skills that they learn in the class, as well as to increase the attention that will be needed to focus on learning in the grades. The younger students, who watch the completion of these projects, will anticipate the time when they will be old enough to have their turn.
There is a symbiotic relationship between the older and younger students. The older students are provided with the opportunity to work on behalf of others. When they help their younger classmates, they feel a sense of purpose. Meanwhile, the younger children benefit from having the support of the older “sibling” to help them learn new skills. The younger children are inspired to imitate their older classmates as they do purposeful work within the class, and school community.
Child Development as it Unfolds in the Mixed-Age Kindergarten
In our mixed-age kindergarten, it is our intention that the steady rhythm will provide each child with years of continuity. The form and predictability of the rhythm gives the children a relatively stress-free environment in which they can develop at their own pace. Each child experiences the kindergarten in a different way based on his/her current developmental stage and personality. It is our intention to honour each child by meeting them with age-appropriate experiences at each stage. As a Waldorf kindergarten, our emphasis is on developing the physical body, social skills and the imagination. Activities that awaken the intellect are avoided until after around the age of six. This is when growth forces are done developing the organs, and naturally expand to develop the memory, while imagination begins to develop into intellect.
The following are the basic developmental characteristics that we see in our ever-changing students followed by brief descriptions of how each age group receives the different components of the Waldorf curriculum. Though the children do not always meet these milestones or demonstrate these behaviours exactly at the corresponding age, in general we experience that their development follows this basic timeline.
Basic Developmental Characteristics:
Four Year Olds Social/Emotional: Four-year olds are very imaginative. The world around them is alive with play and this fantasy world is rich, complex, and very real. Four-year olds are just leaning to share enough to play with one other child. One common challenge for four-year olds is food pickiness as they continue growing into the idea that “I am different from others and have my own likes and dislikes.” Separation anxiety is still common but the allure of play now draws the children more easily into school. Physical: Children of four are full of energy and their limbs are ready for lots of climbing, more capable jumping and fast running. The child of this age is also gaining momentum and enjoys learning to pump the swing and running and rolling very fast down hills. Fours are also capable of self-care and and enjoy dressing themselves.
Five Year Olds Social/Emotional: Five year olds are full of polarities. Most fives begin with endless play and creative work ideas, and then go through a period of intense boredom. They are full of very serious life questions about death, heaven and other philosophical ideas. These ideas do not need serious answers - it is important for them to use their building minds to formulate their own creative answers. At the same time, children this age are intensely silly and love to laugh. The challenge for parents of five year olds is to have patience with their boredom and to allow the children to formulate their own answers to their many questions. Physical: Five year olds love running and jumping. Rhythm is becoming more established and fives can begin skipping and jump-roping.
Six Year Olds Social/Emotional: Six-year-olds are full of plans. In fact, they often spend playtime planning how to play rather than actually playing. This new ability to plan allows them to accomplish more complex goals. The six-year-old can carry out 2 requests at a time, by logically taking both in and working with them inwardly. They are also full of humour and love to play with words and tell jokes. Six-year-olds have very firm ideas and will often try to engage adults in negotiations to get their way. This period is sometimes called the “first adolescence” because sixes are testing boundaries and need to know who the “boss” is. Physical: The sixes have elongated, lost their “baby fat”, and have a waist and longer limbs. Six-year-olds are very physically experimental and love climbing, racing and jumping from moving swings and tall objects.
Saltwater Waldorf School Curriculum Delivery for Kindergarten
Saltwater Waldorf School (SWS) provides a Waldorf curriculum that meets the needs of the child at each stage of their development. SWS provides the BC Ministry of Education curriculum in a timeline that fits with Waldorf pedagogy. The following is summary of the curriculum delivery for our Mixed-age Kindergarten.
Language Arts Children are immersed in an oral culture, where storytelling is of central importance each day. The stories provide opportunity to develop listening skills, depth of imagination, exposure to rich vocabulary and advanced syntax of the English language. Teachers are schooled in the importance of being worthy of imitation and therefore their use of language throughout the day is mindful and exemplary. Circle games, verses and poetry further challenge children’s memory skills, recitation, and bring beauty and joy to language skills.
Mathematics Math is brought through practical and social activities like setting the table, chopping vegetables, circle games, and being socially aware of the number of children in the group from day to day. In this way, the children are being introduced to counting, sequence and pattern, and simple work with the 4 operations, while remaining in a play-oriented environment. As students transition into grade one, Math is brought to consciousness, and is practiced daily throughout all grades.