Secret garden kindergarten in Paekakariki

You may have heard a rumour that we now have an outdoor kindergarten in Paekakariki. Well, it’s true! In our secret garden kindy we spend most of our time outside.
There are many ways and settings in which the Waldorf curriculum is delivered with the essence of the education maintained. This can be observed for example in how we view the child as a spiritual human being, meeting the child where he/she is at in their development, the child learning by imitation and by doing, creating a space where rhythm, repetition and reverence can be experienced and the importance of play is valued.
On the Raumati site we have 3 beautiful purpose built kindergartens where magic takes place. In Paekakariki kindergarten, an older house with a homelike environment and QE 2 park and the beach right on our doorstep, the magic takes place, mostly, outside (the magic I speak of is of course the children and their play).
Many of you will have heard the term “outdoor kindergarten” and the “outdoor classroom”. They usually refer to an environment where “bush crafts” and outdoor skills are taught. In a Steiner kindergarten we do no formal teaching at all in the first seven years, but the child learns by imitation and by doing, not by instructions. They learn simply by being around adults, and their friends, who are doing purposeful work. At this young age the child is “one great sense organ” according to Rudolf Steiner, taking in all that is in their environment. He goes on to say “..the child can only imitate that which is not yet permeated by an intellectual quality”. So no intellectual “heady” explanations in the first 7 years. In our secret garden kindy the children are not in an outdoor classroom as such, they are simply just being in Nature.
In the first 7 years, the child grows into its physical body and by 7 years of age (or thereabouts), will have taken hold of it. We can see an irrepressible desire to live and grow; to stand, walk, speak and think, driven by the child’s emerging willforces. By physical movement the child makes sense of, and learns about, the world. He can be observed doing the same thing, playing the same game, over and over again. The child develops a “body memory”. It is the time for the child to experience the wonder and beauty of the world, and to know without a doubt, that the world is good!
So what does a week in our “secret garden kindy look like?
Mondays is our Adventure day when we go off to either QE2 park or to the beach to explore and play. Tuesdays we bake buns and cook soup outside on the fire in the kindergarten garden. Wednesday is gardening day; weeding, planting, pruning, sweeping. This week we were lucky having a grandmother helping to prune our trees which left us with many branches to make huts with! On Thursdays we bring our trolley with us to the beach to gather wood for our fire, we have a picnic lunch and plenty of time for play in the sand, building bridges across the stream, making huts. And finally Friday is eurythmy day and another day in our garden playing and cooking lunch on the fire.
Please feel free to come for a visit to our secret garden kindergarten. Any family or friends whom you think might be interested in our secret garden kindy, can contact me or the office at Te Ra School.
Arohanui Lotti
Paekakariki kindergarten: 04-2927 072

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