CREATiNG COMMUNITY AT SCHOOL
RHYTHMS OF THE YEAR Nora Windeck is a director at Dublin Steiner School, which opened its doors in 2009 as a parent toddler group. It’s now a full kindergarten and primary school with 35 children.
“The Steiner Waldorf approach is based on the work of the Austrian educational philosopher Rudolf Steiner, which offers a holistic and child-centred educational experience. Steiner methods seek to nurture ‘the hand, the head and the heart’ of every child. In our daily practice we emphasise nature-based play and education, strengthening the child’s connection to nature and take account of the needs of the whole child (academic, physical, emotional and spiritual).
Our children's sense of community is fostered by circle time every morning in which the children sing and say verses and rhymes together and play simple games that rely on helping each other and working together. A simple meal consisting of a different grain and vegetable every day is prepared by the children themselves, fostering a harmonious atmosphere of cooking, sharing, and eating together. Festivals are also very important in Steiner Waldorf schools; the celebration of festivals acknowledges the cycle of the year and lies at the heart of our school community. Our children experience festivals not only as special days together, but as a preparation for the coming season. The festivals that a Steiner school celebrates typically follow the cultural heritage of the local community of the school. Therefore, many of our festivals here in Dublin follow the Christian
LEARNING SPECIAL EDITION
"Our children's sense of com unity is fostered by circle time every morning in which the children sing and say verses and rhymes together and play simple games that rely on helping each other and working together"
and Pagan tradition of Irish heritage and folklore. Our class teachers introduce the children to special poems, songs, stories, crafts and puppet shows appropriate to the season. The children prepare for the festivals together by making crafts and learning songs, which they then perform in front of the other classes and families. This instills a sense of confidence and belonging. Like all other Steiner Waldorf schools worldwide we consider ourselves to be a community as well as a school and we strongly encourage parent participation and support in the everyday running of our school. We are all actively involved in fundraising and organising events for the school and in creating an awareness of Steiner Waldorf schools and the overall ethos of anthroposophy. Last Spring we held an Easter Fair in the garden of the Irish Museum of Modern Art, where children could go on an egg hunt and participate in games and storytelling. Our school children and parents crafted bunnies and chicks from wool, magic wands made from sticks and felt, we had finger-knitted bracelets and knitted headbands with felt flowers. The proceeds went towards purchasing wooden toys, furniture for our new classroom and tools for our garden. We have a “Promoting Positive Behaviour” policy. In our Kindergarten rooms teachers guide behaviour in a gentle yet effective manner. Children are encouraged to use their “gentle hands/ feet” while playing and are kept busy and active at all times. “Inside voices” are gently prompted. When disruptions or conflicts occur, we use creative images, characters, stories and humour to redirect play, regroup children in their play and give them a special role involving their cooperation. Expectations are made clear through reminders; we reaffirm what our expectations are by saying for example, “We use our walking feet inside”, rather than, “Stop running”. Expectations are discussed at group times in a manner that is appropriate for the children’s age and development. Children are encouraged to comfort and make amends, for example, to get a tissue for their friend’s tears, draw a picture for each other etc. If a child is consistently disruptive, or physical towards other children, they may be removed from the group to go with either the teacher or assistant to do some work which benefits the kindergarten, such as jobs in the kitchen or sweeping up outside. These jobs are never stated as punishment, for example a teacher might say, “I think we need to do some work together so that our hands can remember how to be kind.” All consequences for children are immediate and relatively short and children will be made aware of what will happen if their negative behaviour continues.”
FIND OUT MORE For autumn term dates and open days see dublinsteiner.com
OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2019 thegreenparent.co.uk