Azalea Mountain’s mixed-age kindergarten offers an early childhood program based on the Waldorf understanding of human development that addresses the physical, intellectual, and emotional needs of the growing child.Our kindergarten program is for children ages 3½–6½ with the following options:
The key elements in the program are:
It is a busy day for the Sunflowers, beginning with unstructured outdoor play. The good-sized yard has a climbing tube, teeter totter, and wood for construction. Circle includes songs, movement, verses, and finger plays, which enriches language through an oral tradition. Next, we eat our organic snack together at the King and Queen’s table. The children participate by cutting vegetables for soup day and knead dough for bread day. They set the table, wash their dishes, and sweep the floor after snack. Weekly activities include wet-on-wet painting, drawing with beeswax crayons, Eurythmy, modeling beeswax, finger knitting, and crafts. A few children work on projects then return to unstructured indoor play. This includes the children building structures, balancing on the rocking board, playing house with the baby dolls, wearing capes and crowns for imaginary play, and using natural materials in their kitchen. A daily story time or puppet show is an essential part of Waldorf education. Festivals and celebrations provide many magical moments throughout the year.
Many of the activities are extensions of home life. Depending on the day of the week, the children may grind grain for the bread they bake for snack, do simple finger knitting, gardening, mending or housekeeping. They learn to love and care for their things in their kindergarten home. Activities such as listening to the telling and retelling of fairy tales, painting with watercolors, and forming colorful beeswax into delightful shapes, guide the flow of the day.
Although to the casual eye, flow of the school day seems to happen spontaneously, our teachers organize the day carefully so that the children follow the flow natually. Typically, it begins with unstructured outdoor play. The good-sized yard has a climbing tube, teeter totter, and various wooden objects for construction. Afterwards the children enter the classroom. Circle time includes songs, movement, verses, and finger plays, which enriches language through an oral tradition. Then comes snack (using organic foods only). The children learn to participate in the routine work of a household by cutting vegetables for soup day and knead dough for bread day. They set the table, wash their dishes, and sweep the floor after snack.>
Weekly activities include wet-on-wet painting, drawing with beeswax crayons, Eurythmy, modeling beeswax, finger knitting, and crafts. A few children work on projects then return to unstructured indoor play. This includes the children building structures, balancing on the rocking board, playing house with the baby dolls, wearing capes and crowns for imaginary play, and using natural materials in their kitchen. A daily story time or puppet show is an essential part of Waldorf education. Festivals and celebrations provide many magical moments throughout the year.
The mixed age classroom is the staple of early childhood classrooms across Europe, and is rapidly gaining popularity here in the United States. This is especially true of Waldorf schools, as the principle of the Waldorf classroom is to work out of imitation. The spirit of the mixed age group resembles that of a real family. Within the fold of the mixed aged class, children have the opportunity to develop greater social skills: The young ones learn through the experiences of the older children; the older boys and girls are softened by their own gestures of nurturance towards the wee ones. Self development flourishes in the mixed age environment where children, and adults, do not see a group of identically aged children and then inevitably compare abilities and milestones. In the mixed aged classroom all children are celebrated for being just who they are at this very special time in life and are encouraged by watching others to challenge themselves toward new growth.
Waldorf education places enormous importance on the kindergarten years. This important time in a child’s life builds the very foundations on which later learning takes place. Today’s scientific research continues to support what Waldorf Education has shown for many years: young children who are given opportunities to learn through play, cultivate imagination and hone their concentration, coordination, language acquisition and number skills. All of this is done in the warm, cheerful atmosphere of a Waldorf classroom, which offers simple, hand-made toys and play materials from nature. In the Azalea Mountain Kindergarten you will find sturdy wooden toys and furniture, rather than plastic items. You will find silk play cloths and woolen dolls, rather than polyester. You will find creative play stands, farms and kitchen sets, rather than computers. Our kindergarten prepares children for the academic challenges of elementary school by engaging children through meaningful life activities, by cultivating the arts, and by stimulating creativity and fantasy through imaginative play. Waldorf kindergarten teachers do not place premature academic demands on their students. Rather, they allow the children’s intellectual faculties to unfold naturally so that by the time children enter the elementary grades, they are ready and eager to experience new forms of learning. With this strong supportive beginning, children’s neural pathways are allowed to fully develop allowing them to become eager independent learners throughout their school years.
For your convenience, Azalea Mountain now has an extended day program, Robins Nest from 1–3 pm for ages 5 years through 6–6.5 years
Notice of Nondiscrimination Policy
The Azalea Mountain admits students of any race, color, national and ethnic origin to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the school. It does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national and ethnic origin in administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, scholarship and loan programs, and athletic and other school-administered programs.