EARLY CHILDHOOD

Our early childhood program provides children with a calm and joyful experience filled with magic and reverence. Each child’s developmental journey is met with love and interest, and the overall environment nourishes the children physically, emotionally, socially and spiritually.

Children thrive when their lives are rhythmical - they can count on events to unfold in a predictable way and with this sense of security comes the opportunity to engage in their play and work with confidence. New skills, both physical and social, develop as the child encounters a familiar, dependable environment, tailored to their needs. These principles guide the organization of our classrooms each day, week, and year, and allow children to fully experience the turning of the seasons, their own growing competence, the joy of friendship and our rich festival life.

At Summerfield, our children meet goodness, beauty and truth in the world around them. Fostering the magic of childhood builds a foundation not only for creative and flexible thinking later in life, but also helps preserve the merriment and awe inherent in a young child.

Curricula Overview

The first three years of a child’s life are full of a phenomenal amount of growth and learning. Roots and Shoots classes offer support and guidance for families as they begin to establish routines that encourage the healthy development of the growing child. These classes provide a place, week after week, for children to enrich their world beyond their family circle.

Open enrollment for the fall 2018 Roots and Shoots program has begun. Contact Donna Stusser, at 707-575-7194 ext. 129, to discuss class availability. Click here to download the 2018-19 Blossoms & Sweet Pea application. Click here to download the 2018-19 Schedule and Payment Form.

Each Class, Infants through Blossoms, offers an open time for the child to explore free play. The toys and equipment are carefully chosen to encourage healthy movement and imagination. Children have the opportunity to grow their capacities as they explore new movements and practice old ones, such as climbing over a bridge, changing a doll's clothes or pouring water from a watering can.

Traditional nursery rhymes, simple finger games and seasonal songs are shared throughout the morning. Circle time encourages adults and children to laugh and cuddle, to be silly, as well as sincere. Songs aid the children in making transitions from one activity to another.

Exploration and Observation

Through the adults' quiet observation- both guided and spontaneous- of the children as they explore their surroundings, parents deepen their own intuitive knowledge and discover new ways of seeing the children.

Camaraderie

Roots and Shoots classes are a great way to meet other parents and share the humbling trials and tribulations of parenting a young child in today's ever-changing world. From the first steps to first foods, potty training to establishing healthy sleep (for all!), and beyond, lively discussions are guaranteed. Parents find the insights from one another invaluable.

The Blossoms Program

The Blossoms classes at Summerfield Waldorf School and Farm are designed to help young children (2 1/2 - 3 years of age) to mature socially while meeting their changing needs as they transition into the early childhood years. Parents or caregivers will accompany their children for the first few sessions of the school year; then, as the children become more comfortable and confident in their surroundings, adults will be encouraged to transition out of the classroom setting. The children's day will follow a natural rhythm of circle time, indoor play, organic snack and outdoor activity. This new class offering, held in Summerfield's unique Waldorf early childhood setting, is the perfect opportunity to provide young children with a healthy dose of socialization and enrichment.

Summerfield's preschool program strives to make the transition from home to school as gentle as possible by creating a classroom setting that feels homelike. At the age of three, children are just beginning to interact with their peers and they naturally imitate the world around them. It is through active play with each other and work with their teachers and peers that preschool children develop a foundation for future learning.

The Rosebud Preschool "home" is designed to provide opportunities for the young child to recreate the activities of daily life that they witness every day. We have a bustling Sunshine Kitchen, with plates, pots and pans. Seashells and river stones serve as inspiration for many meals. Wooden stands, boards, play cloths and clips allow for construction projects of all kinds. Welders and electricians can fix any malfunctions that might arise! Kings and queens can adorn themselves with silks and crowns. The cozy corner allows little mothers and fathers to care for their "babies" with devotion and love. Less formed play things - like wool roving - have limitless potential for inclusion in play: frosting for your cupcakes anyone? Our toys are made of natural materials that are inviting to the touch; they stimulate the imagination, which in turn creates valuable play.

On bun day, our morning work includes the grinding of wheat, and the kneading of dough. On rice day, we stir and mix our sesames seeds to season our grain. Farm day chores include feeding the chickens and combing the bunnies' soft, velvety coats. Every day the table must be set with our placemats, napkins and china cups. Our room is kept tidy and seasonally decorated too. We are joyfully busy with the care of our home at school.

Our outside play yard is blessed with many trees, a garden and pathways that wind from the sandbox to the swings and back to the wooden gate. There are flowers to care for and a wooden house that might be a carpentry shop, a horse barn or a bakery on any given day. Our big chair swing, our rainbow hammock and many leafy branches for climbing insure that we have plenty of space for quiet and reflection when needed. Tools for gardening, hauling, watering, raking and sweeping are always at hand. Our slide allows for lively games of train ride and sledding and our basket with pulley makes it possible to transport all kinds of treasures to the top of our play house!

Like traditional Waldorf Kindergartens, the Rosebud Preschool follows a rhythm of the day, week and year. Seasonal festivals such as our Harvest Tea and May Day Dance are favorites; birthday celebration days include special bouquets of flowers, a slightly sweet treat with our morning meal, and a wee gift for the celebrants. Language is joyfully developed through songs, circle games and stories. We sing sweet tunes throughout the day: during our morning greeting, at circle time, on walks, while working, and to bless our meal. Through storytelling and puppet shows, the child's world expands and the imagination is kindled. Through all of their experiences at the Rosebud Preschool, the children come to know that the world is a good place to be and that we are ever so happy that they are here!

Preschool Hours

The preschool hours are from 8:30am to 12:30pm, with aftercare available until 3:00 p.m.

“Children who live in an atmosphere of love and warmth, and who have around them truly good examples to imitate, are living in their proper element.” – Rudolf Steiner

Our three rhythmical kindergartens, serving children from ages four to six, aim to support the healthy development of the young child in a nurturing, non-academic setting, through imitation, movement, imaginative play, story and the work of daily life.

Young children thrive on a rhythm that they can count on, with plenty of inbreath and outbreath, in order to blossom and to develop new capacities. This principle guides the organization of the day, the week, and the year. In the kindergarten a rhythmic structure is created that moves daily between focused group activities and individually initiated activities, including circle time, creative free-play indoors and out, eating meals together while working on our finest, golden manners, clean-up time, and story time. Weekly activities include a visit to our Biodynamic farm, painting, drawing, eurythmy (an art of movement) and practical skills. Kneading dough, chopping vegetables, sewing, finger knitting or working in the wood shop with industrious and capable hands to saw, rasp or sand are some of the weekly tasks the children enjoy. For the older children in the kindergarten, this ‘real work’ meets the transformational changes happening within.

The essential path for learning and growth for the young child is through imitation; therefore, the activities offered and modeled in the Kindergarten are worthy of imitation. During circle time, the children imitate the teacher’s singing, spoken words and gestures through a seasonal movement story that develops fine and gross motor skills as well as bilateral and cross-lateral movements, all necessary steps that are precursors for the child to later move to the next stages of abstract thinking in the grades. Also, through imitation and doing, the children help with the daily life of the kindergarten, with myriad activities such as sweeping, peeling carrots or setting the table with placemats, napkins, cups and water pitchers that they carefully pour.

Every morning the kindergartners take a daily walk around the school and farm. When autumn is upon us, a carpet of golden leaves blankets the ground and the golden corn rustles in the tall stalks as we walk about the land with the children. In our daily walks we are able to see, smell and feel the small changes each day that herald the coming of the seasons and allow us to sense completely the turning of the year without speaking about it. Of great importance, while we walk this bilateral coordination movement fosters the healthy development of the brain and the essential myelination of the bridge between the right and left halves that will later be crucial for reading, writing and logical thinking.

The environment in the kindergarten is carefully created and invites imaginative play. In the words of Rudolf Steiner, through imaginative play, ‘everything depends on the inner work’ of the child. Through the transforming of natural and unformed materials into fire trucks, gnome caves, rockets to visit the man on the moon or kitty and doggy homes with cream and fish for the dogs and cats to eat, the children are doing their necessary work through their play. The chairs from the lunch table come out into the playroom to become an airplane with pilots at the controls and stewardesses serving drinks and food. The room is alive with transformation. Our outside play yard finds children climbing trees, galloping about the yard wearing horse harnesses, digging in the sand and soil with shovels, and building houses, restaurants and bakery shops.

The stories told in the kindergarten are traditional fairy and folktales from different lands and cultures that help to develop a rich vocabulary and a facility with language. The spoken story evolves over the course of three weeks into a puppet play and then a children’s play with the children waiting with excitement to be, among many other roles, the strong and silent bear, the dragon with it’s great tail, the rooster that crows at the well or the brave lass who travels with her llama through forests and over mountains in search of the magic water at the end of the world. This unfolding of the story with the children strengthens memory skills and listening capacities that will serve the child later in the academic setting.

On our Biodynamic farm, the children can be found walking between the tall corn paths or running down the apple row. After the hard work of picking apples the children help the farmer to press sweet cider to drink. Yumm! Later we may feed the chickens, collect eggs, comb the soft bunnies or harvest potatoes, corn, brussel sprouts or even the overly-mature plants for the animals like the giant cabbages that we throw with strong arms over the fence to the sheep and cows. There is always good work that needs doing!

The kindergartens often have children with cultural heritages from many lands. In the play yards in the morning as the children are saying goodbye to mamas and daddies, a mix of languages may be heard such as Chinese, German, French, Portuguese, Danish, Norwegian, Russian or Spanish. Sometimes a family might bring a special story, feast or festival from their land such as the Good Luck Dragon that paraded through the yard at Chinese New Year with sweet oranges for the children or the yummy latkes and lighting of the menorah that lit our way in the dark of winter. Some other festivals that are celebrated in the kindergarten year are Michaelmas with the capes of golden light and the eating of the dragon bread, the quiet walking of the candle-lit Advent Spiral or the flower bedecked dancing around the maypole high during the May Faire. These seasonal festivals foster community and mark our rhythmic passage through the turning of the year.

Kindergarten Hours

The kindergarten day begins at 8:30 and ends at 12:45 with a nutritious snack and a warm, healthy lunch. Each week we use seasonal vegetables, fruit or yogurt from our very own farm! Our aftercare program begins at 12:45 and is well-loved by many parents and children. The children have a quiet rest with the classroom assistant who will sing or play quietly on a lyre. Then the children go outside to play and have a nourishing snack. Pick up for aftercare is at 3:00 or a child may stay for cozy, late aftercare that runs until 5:30.