“I also did not like the word “preschool” since it implies that somehow the learning done before age 5 is not valid. In my mind, there is no such thing as “pre” school. In most European countries, there is not even such a word as preschool. The children attend daycare until age 6 and then start formal education at age 7. When I attended an international conference, the European participants thought it was quite humorous that I kept referring to our young preschoolers as students. This showed my cultural bias in that we think of even our youngest children as responsible for measurable learning.
- From “Forest Kindergartens: The Cedarsong Way” by Erin K. Kenny
If you are planning for preschool, (and you can see more about what I think about “preschool” here: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/11/11/waldorf-101-waldorf-preschool/), focus on a strong component of rhythm to your days being present together at home. The things that preschoolers are working on – washing themselves, using the bathroom, the gentle rhythm of setting things up for a snack or lunch and then washing dishes and clearing plates – those extraordinary moments of everyday life is what the core curriculum for preschoolers should be. Love, warmth, connection and security, rhythm and unstructured, imaginative play.
The cycle of the year is the thing that holds the family together. The festival year is one way to look at the rhythm of the year, which intertwines with the seasons and the cycle os nature. Not everyone has a natural environment they can get to, but if you do, I also urge you to do some planning around a farm or forest in your area. This can have a daily rhythm if it is something you live on or can walk to, a weekly rhythm, or a monthly rhythm if something like this is far away for you and your family. Please refer to the beloved nature pyramid to help you plan (the Ampersand one is my favorite).
Farm and forest kindergartens are becoming more popular. My own particular state still lags behind with only one official program I know of outside of several private schools that put environmental education at the top of the list.
The definition of a “forest school” is that a “Forest School is an inspirational process, that offers ALL learners regular opportunities to achieve, develop confidence and self-esteem, through hands on learning experiences in a local woodland or natural environment with trees. Forest School is a specialised approach that sits within and complements the wider context of outdoor and woodland learning.”
For more information about forest kindergarten teacher training, see the Cedarsong website: http://cedarsongnatureschool.org/forest-kindergarten-teacher-training-program/training/
The Waldorf model of this is found in places such as Nokken: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/08/31/nokken-a-review-of-two-books-and-a-few-thoughts/
For more information about farm-based education as inspired by Rudolf Steiner: https://www.biodynamics.com/farm-based-educators
This is an interesting article that takes a look at farm-based education through the grades: https://www.biodynamics.com/content/land-stewardship-program-hartsbrook-school