Our kindergarten program is inspired by the Waldorf teaching philosophy. Teaching is based on imitation rather than direct instruction, and there is an emphasis on music, story, artwork and play. Learning is enabled through regular and reliable rhythms, and the children come to know what to expect on a daily and weekly basis.
Creative play is encouraged for the learning it provides, such as the development of strong language and social skills like cooperation and sharing. Toys used in our classroom are simple, wooden objects, stuffed animals hand-knitted from wool, and hand-sewn dolls made of soft cloth with yarn hair. The kitchen table and chairs and the simple toys are all child-sized. The classroom walls are painted a soft colour and lights and right angles are softened by coloured cotton gauze or silk. The classroom is decorated with seasonal motifs, such as a nature table.
The children spend about one hour outside in the garden, where they play with wood, leaves, shovels and wheelbarrows. We feel this enhances the creative aspect of their play and also provides them with an opportunity to observe nature. In addition, every Thursday the children hike to the nearby trails of the Royal Botanical Gardens or the Aviary in Westdale.
The morning snack includes an organic grain (alternating between oatmeal, millet, rice and bread baked by the staff and children) and a bowl of cut fruit. Families contribute one fruit per child per day to the fruit bowl. Soup made by the staff and children is served in the winter months. Meat and dairy products are not served. We strictly enforce a nut-free policy to ensure a safe environment for all children.
Many tasks need to be done to keep our school going that are quite apart from the actual teaching of the children in the kindergarten. Since many hands make light work, parents are asked to sign up for a task such as laundry, grocery shopping, overseeing the library, and organizing parent meetings. In addition, all parents are expected to participate in the planning and running of the two major fundraisers, the Merryberry Market in November and the Mayfair in May. Each fall and spring, the families also gather one day to help with general outdoor maintenance of the garden.
Parents play a vital role in the success of not only the program, but also the school community. We hope to foster an atmosphere that is inclusive, supportive and engaging. We encourage all parents to ask questions, offer suggestions and raise concerns whenever they arise.