Laurel 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.
The Statutory EYFS and Exemptions
The Statutory Early Years Foundation Stage
(EYFS) Birth–five years, applies to all settings including ours. It sets out both learning and development requirements and safeguarding and welfare requirements for children from birth to 31 August following their fifth birthday. You can find out more about the EYFS
in the Guide to the EYFS in Steiner Kindergartens
which you will find in your kindergarten or on steinerwaldorf.org
. You can also find a Parent’s Guide to the EYFS on the government website
Because there are areas which conflict with the Steiner Waldorf early childhood principles and practice, we have received some Exemptions and Modifications
to the EYFS
Learning and Development requirements and Assessment regulations under the Established Principles
route for Steiner Waldorf settings. These are mostly to do with the introduction and in some cases formal teaching of reading, writing, mathematics and use of IT/media and electronic gadgetry. There is no exemption from the safeguarding and welfare requirements. View the exemptions here:
We recognise that children over 5 need a more challenging experience, including a programme of work appropriate to their age, (Key Stage 1 in other school settings). In a Steiner school ‘formal education’ begins in Class 1. What we are providing in the kindergarten now has its own curriculum which shows progression from the EYFS
, differentiation and expected outcomes for those children of statutory school age. We have a rationale of activities we provide for these children as well as a document which shows what we expect of the older children and what they will learn through the curriculum provided. The documents describing the curriculum for this age are kept in the kindergarten.
Parents will be kept informed of their child’s developmental progress throughout their time in the kindergarten and can be assured of a smooth transition into school.