Open to students ages 3 & 4 by October 1st, this play-based program is a delightful introduction to school—allowing children to explore their world through interaction with others, preparing and eating of nutritious foods, playing with a myriad of natural toys and items that foster the imagination. The classrooms are beautifully painted to sooth the young child. Our trained teachers provide a caring environment as our young ones gently transition from home to school. School preparedness activities include nature walks, exploration, storytelling and retelling of stories, acting out stories, becoming characters in the stories, drawing using block beeswax crayons and water color painting to develop fine motor skills. Nap or rest time is provided mid day for full time students. Meal time is a special part of the preschool day that all children look forward to. This program provides half and full time opportunities for our preschool children. This is a tuition-based program. Fees are available in the business office.
Parents wanting full day kindergarten have the option of enrolling their Kindergarten children in our kindergarten enrichment program that runs from 11:30 to 3:30 Monday through Thursday and until 1:30 on Fridays. This tuition-based program adds to the half day program paid for by the state. Much like the preschool, our homelike kindergarten provides learning opportunities that are play-based, including nature walks to explore our surroundings, painting and storytelling, nutritious meals made fresh each day, and practical activities that provide a foundation for healthy bodies, minds and hearts. Waldorf kindergartens provide toys and equipment made of natural materials to further the imagination of the child, so they have the potential to become tomorrow’s thinkers and problem solvers. Children learn fairy tales and retell them through acting them out and listening—building vocabulary and learning skills. Our trained teachers help children to develop their fine and gross motor skills to prepare them for the grades. Kindergarten Enrichment provides a time for lunch, rest and afternoon activities.
Multi-age and Play-based Approach to Early Childhood
The Early Childhood classes are multi-age and play-based, focused on developing children’s capacity for learning and imaginative thinking. The curricula in our mixed-age preschool/kindergarten classes include a healthy balance of large and small, active and calm activities that prepare the preschool and kindergarten child for first grade. Age appropriate activities are imaginative and practical, addressing the needs of the young child as they fully engage in learning through play. Our program emphasizes creative play as essential to the healthy development of the child. Children’s imaginations are fostered by offering classroom materials which are natural and open-ended, allowing children to play out various creative scenarios. Early Childhood teachers share oral stories with the children who in turn create their own inner pictures. Daily circle time of verses and songs further enhance the child’s capacity for imagination and creative thinking. Experiencing nature fully, outdoor play is enjoyed no matter the season or weather! Children learn a multitude of life lessons and a solid foundation is encouraged through play, guided cooking & artistic activity, as well as many other elements that make up the daily rhythm.
Reading and math foundations are laid through age appropriate engagement in the retelling or acting out of stories, and practical activities such as table setting and building. Children are taught comprehension of stories before the logistics of reading. Many children come to Mountain Phoenix already reading. For those who have not put together phonemic awareness, it will be taught formally in first grade when their physical development supports reading of small print and sitting for extended periods during instruction. The desire to read is enhanced through this approach–the why of reading before memorizing of letter sounds and phonics or sight words. This approach honors children’s physical development and gives all children the opportunity to be successful when they begin to read.
Foundations for First Grade, Language Arts & Math found in Waldorf Kindergarten Curriculum:
Foundation for Language Arts Broad fundamental work in listening and speaking skills, including singing, proper pronunciation, rhymes that form the later basis of word families. Poems and stories told from memory by the teacher expand vocabulary, improve attention span, and support future reading success.
Foundation for Mathematics Broad work in developing gross motor skills gross and fine motor activity that refines balance,
coordination, spatial orientation, graceful movement, and dexterity in fingers and limbs; Imaginative play with simple objects provides a concrete basis for the abstract manipulation of symbols in elementary school. Such play enjoyed in a non-competitive, collaborative way promotes the problem-solving skills required for mental math and algebraic thinking in the elementary years.
Artistic Training Beeswax modeling, painting, coloring, working with wool, sewing, finger-knitting, woodworking, music, singing, puppetry, eurythmy and simple dramatizations.
Social Skills Learning to live, work and play in a group, sharing and taking turns; practicing common courtesy and politeness. The healthy blend of child-directed play and teacher-directed activities provides the necessary opportunities for children to develop emotional-regulation, self-discipline, and social strategies for making friends and resolving conflicts.
Work Habits Learning to complete tasks, helping to clean up after themselves and working within the gentle structure provided by the daily rhythms of similar activities.
For further research supporting the healthy neurological development that occurs when the Play-based, Multi-age approach to early childhood is employed, please click below:
“What is a Waldorf Kindergarten?“ …by Nancy Blanning
“Waldorf-Neuroscientific Support for Play-based Education“ …by David Elkind
“Does Early Education Work?” …by Betsy Yagla
“Effort to Restore Children’s Play Gains Momentum“ …Hilary Stout
“Research Finds No Advantage In Learning To Read From Age Five“ …Dr Suggate Sebastian
“The Creativity Crisis“ …by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman
“Finnishing School“ …Time Magazine
“Old-Fashioned Play Builds Serious Skills” …NPR Article
“Computers may Hinder Children’s Education” …by Paul Hale