We are based on a 7-acre smallholding with animals, fields, a vegetable patch and a growing woodland for the children to explore. This gives our children a unique and exciting playground to observe the seasons and develop a strong connection with nature.
We can take a maximum of 16 children per day, although we often have an average number of around 12 – 14. This low number, along with being based in the heart of the countryside, means that the children have a calm, peaceful and spacious environment in which to grow and learn.
The Kindergarten’s playroom is a warm and welcoming environment. The children thrive from having a balance of gentle adult-led activities such as painting, sewing, weaving, baking, singing, preparing food and tool use, mixed with free play with the use of dolls, a play kitchen, dress up clothes, wooden vehicles, a dolls’ house, books and natural resources.
Every day after lunch the children spend an hour in the woodland where they learn to whittle wood, build fires, sculpt with clay, weave and do other forest-school related activities. They have a mud kitchen, tyre swing, rope swing, natural stream and dens to play in. Every week the children also carry out some gardening; growing vegetables from seed in a vegetable patch to then harvest later in the year and use to make soup.
|Monday||9.30am – 2.30pm|
|Tuesday||9.30am – 2.30pm|
|Wednesday||9.30am – 2.30pm|
|Thursday||9.30am – 2.30pm|
|Afternoons are not currently available. (please enquire for more details)|
Daily RhythmThe Kindergarten session runs from 9.30am – 2.30pm and follows the same gentle rhythm each day, which gives young children the security of knowing what to expect next. Morning Session
|9.30am||Children arrive outdoor at the Ark.|
|9.45am||Walk to the Magic Glade|
|10am||Free Play followed by a snack around the fire|
|11.15am||Walk back to the Kindergarten|
|12.30||play time and activity of the day followed by story time.|
|2.30pm||Pick up from the Ark|
MenuEvery day the children sit down and eat a home-cooked lunch together. The fruit and vegetables are chopped in the playroom by the teaching assistant who models safe knife use. She then supervises the children to chop the food too.
Older children can then help to prepare the lunch further by accompanying the assistant in the kitchen. This gives children the skills, understanding and practice they need to learn to cook healthy, wholesome meals.
Often the vegetables have been harvested by the children from the Kindergarten’s own vegetable patch which gives them a deep understanding of where their food comes from and how nature supports human life. All meals are vegan at their base, and then vegetarian options such a butter and cheese can be added. All dietary needs are very well-catered for.
|Monday||sandwiches with butter and cheese, vegetables sticks with hummus.|
|Tuesday||homemade soup with bread, butter and cheese|
|Wednesday||pasta with pesto or tomato sauce, cheese, raw vegetables.|
|Thursday||homemade soup with vegetables and beans, homemade bread and butter|
FestivalsLaurel Farm Kindergarten is unique in that it observes and honours the changing seasons and the life cycle of the natural world. We welcome and celebrate the gifts that nature brings us therefore we hold festivals and gatherings throughout the year as either a family event or a kindergarten event. These typically occur around the solstices and the equinoxes, but also includes celebrating the bravery, kind-heartiness and altruism of three saints in a symbolic way: St. Michael, St. Martin and St. Nicholas.
CurriculumLaurel Farm Kindergarten is a Steiner-inspired setting which means it is run by an Early Years Steiner Teacher, who is guided by the Steiner Early Years Curriculum. This curriculum operates very much in line with the Early Years Foundation Stage which is the government curriculum that mainstream preschools adhere to. What sets the Steiner Early Years Curriculum apart is that it is exempt from some areas of the numeracy and literacy guidelines of the EYFS.
This means that children gain skills in language and mathematics through play-based learning as opposed to formal learning. Children are not expected to sit down and learn to write letters and numbers at such an early age but instead learn the art of language through song and storytelling, making up rhymes and being free to engage in conversation with each other. Children gain a representational understanding of maths by playing counting games and observing and discussing shapes in all forms.Steiner Early Years is based on gently guiding children through their education using their head, heart and hands to engage with and understand the world. This means they gain an intrinsic understanding of the world around them in a natural and holistic way. Many educational studies support the notion that children gain great benefit from focusing on this play-based learning until they are 6-7 years old, when they are then developmentally ready for a shift in their education to a more formal one.
Laurel Farm Kindergarten is unique in that it doesn’t separate the children into age groups and instead honours the advantages of having a mixed aged group. Young children arrive and look to the older ones for guidance, they observe them and learn from them. And the older children take on the responsibility of being a role model, they demonstrate kindness, fairness and positive behaviour. Laurel Farm Kindergarten in particular honours the social and emotional stage that each child is at and nurtures their individual personalities. They are free to make their own discoveries and express their creativity. They are encouraged to contribute their ideas, which underpins how their education develops and helps them to become more confident and, gradually, more independent. They are empowered by the trust that is given to them and take pride and ownership in their education. As a result, children flourish here – naturally and intrinsically. Many children have attended the Kindergarten and have gone on to succeed in a variety of educational settings. Some children stay until they are 4 then move onto mainstream education, others stay until they are 6 and have shown that they are able to pick up the government curriculum very quickly.