Preschool at Semillas consists of a small, intimate group of children, ages three to five years old who come together three or five mornings a week. Maestra Elsa Arenas is a fully trained and certified in Waldorf education and has 19 years experience in early childhood settings.
Our program is very nurturing and rhythmical in nature. Activities are planned at the same time each day, rotating through the week. This rhythmical element ensures a strong sense of consistency, order, and security – essential to the healthy development of the young child. Everything that is done in the class has a purpose, instilling a sense of joy and care for every task. The atmosphere is homelike and the focus is on play.
The preschool room is structured to offer a variety of play activities, both individual and group. Outdoor playtime is scheduled every day, even in rainy weather. During the morning, children have ample opportunity to run, jump, climb and engage in circle activities.
At the beginning of every week the teacher prepares a simple story, accompanied by rhyme, song and puppetry to which the children sit and listen. The underlying purpose is to cultivate the child’s imagination and strengthen memory; skills that will be further developed in the Waldorf Kindergarten.
The children enjoy a healthy, wholesome mid-morning snack, which is provided by parents in rotating turns.Children help the teacher to prepare their healthy lunch, which is then enjoyed by the class.
Throughout the year, a number of festivals are incorporated into the daily and weekly rhythms of the preschool. Each child’s birthday is celebrated with at least one parent present.
Opportunities to observe a variety of multi-cultural and ethnic celebrations present themselves throughout the year.
The mood of Semillas’s kindergarten (ages 5 to 7) is gentle and dreamlike. It is a homelike environment in which the child can live free of self-consciousness, guided by example rather than by explicit instruction. Pentatonic songs, the pentatonic lyre and glockenspiel support this mood. Additionally, the absence of electronic media and games creates a peaceful, calming environment.
During their morning activities, the teachers model and provide many opportunities for meaningful work. The children help with preparing their daily snack, setting out painting supplies, washing dishes, sweeping, grinding grains, chopping fruits and vegetables, baking bread, and sewing. They also engage in seasonal projects such as creating handmade toys, dolls or crafts (for example, felting fire-balls for Michaelmas, sewing gnomes in winter, making knot dolls and table puppets in spring to later take home and care for). All of these activities foster a reverence for work—both practical and creative, develop an appreciation for the creative process, and build healthy habits and capacities for later life.
Woodworking, painting, crafts, beeswax modeling, and a hike in nature each has their day and provides a rich artistic experience to further nourish the senses.
Throughout the week, the teachers tell nature stories, folk tales or fairy tales from around the world. The magic of the spoken word touches the children’s picture-building imaginations and enriches their vocabularies while developing a love of language – all of which are the basis of literacy skills. Acting out these tales and seeing them performed as puppet shows allows the children to go deeply into their imaginations and explore the many roles of the human being. Albert Einstein once said, “If you want your children to be brilliant, tell them fairy tales. If you want them to be very brilliant tell them even more fairy tales.”
The children learn to care for the environment and respect the work of others by the practical activities of gardening, cooking, cleaning, polishing, sweeping, tidying up their toys and keeping everything in its place. Creating order in their world gives rise to a capacity for inner discipline and a respectful relationship with the environment.