“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.” –Pablo Picasso
This handbook is intended to explain our policies and answer any questions that parents may have about our program. It has been created to inspire us all in the spirit of working together in love to carry out the responsibilities of manifesting the quality care for our children that we always knew was possible. We hope it will be a living document that will change and grow as we do. Please feel free to offer any suggestions.
About Singing Cedars
Singing Cedars Early Childhood Program is inspired by Waldorf education with a special focus on being outdoors. We began in 2002 with the objective of preserving childhood by providing a safe, nurturing and supportive environment for children to grow and unfold where they are loved and respected for who they are.
We at Singing Cedars recognize that each child is a unique individual with unique gifts and challenges. We are committed to meet them and their families with respect, always seeing the child with fresh eyes and the knowingness that no matter what life holds in store for them, they will be able to overcome their difficulties with strength courage and love. We base our education on the understanding that the child learns best through emulating the healthy work of adults. By engaging every aspect of the child’s being, we support the developmental stages necessary for positive thinking, nurtured emotions and a purpose-filled will. With this in mind, we strive to offer an environment which supports and nourishes all areas of your child’s development.
Nature’s rhythms and the celebration of seasonal festivals provide the framework for the flow of activities in the program. In a loving environment, the teacher and children engage in practical and artistic activities. The child has many opportunities to develop his or her sensory, imaginative, and imitative powers through activities such as painting, drawing, beeswax modeling, baking, gardening, outdoor exploration and free-choice play. Our program also emphasizes stories, songs, puppetry and circle games that mirror the yearly cycle. Carefully chosen playthings, made of natural materials inspire great inner activity for the child’s creative play.
The Role of Rhythm in Waldorf Education
Waldorf Education recognizes the profound importance that rhythm plays in all areas of life. The rhythm of a child’s growth, the rhythm of the year, the seasons and each individual day greatly influence a child’s natural aptitude for learning. The Waldorf curriculum introduces each experience and concept at the stage of development when a child is most receptive to it, in rhythm with the appropriate season of year and at the time of day most conducive to actual learning. The preschool child, who learns through doing, enters a warm homelike environment in which the flow of the day—from playing and circle to handwork and outside time—is designed to encourage a healthy and secure experience of life’s patterns.
Rudolf Steiner and Anthroposophy
Steiner, a truly “Renaissance man,” developed a way of thinking that he applied to different aspects of what it means to be human. Over a period of 40 years, he formulated and taught a path of inner development or spiritual research he called, “anthroposophy.” From what he learned, he gave practical indications for nearly every field of human endeavor. Art, architecture, drama, science, education, agriculture, medicine, economics, religion, care of the dying, social organization—there is almost no field he did not touch.
Today, wherever there is a humanitarian need, you’ll find groups of people working out of Steiner’s ideas. An estimated ten thousand initiatives exist worldwide, involved in entrepreneurial activity, social and political activism, artistic expression, scientific research, and community building. Some contemporary manifestations of Steiner’s influence include Waldorf Education, Biodynamic farming and gardening, and the Camphill Movement for the support of people with disabilities.
Although Anthroposophy is not taught in Waldorf schools it’s vision of the unfolding human being inspires all of Waldorf education.
The Inner Work of your Child’s Teacher
As teachers we are striving to look beyond the physical and emotional child, to ask ourselves “Who is this child that stands before me? What is his task? Who is he becoming? What do I need to do to help him forward?” We try to observe the child, as we see him standing before us, in as full a way as possible. Then we take the outer observation of the child and with it, picture the child inwardly, trying not to make a judgment, and ask the questions listed above.
From this observing and questioning comes a deep respect for the child and his inner being. If a certain child is wrestling with a particularly visible issue then that child will be focused on by the teacher and for example, for three nights will be pictured in the way described above. This inner “carrying” can be very helpful for the child. It could be that out of this the teacher may tell a story, which is able to show the child in pictures a possible way to move forward. For example if a child is having a struggle with boundaries, the teacher can tell a story about a troll out in the wilderness where it is lonely and cold. Slowly the troll may come into contact with humankind and begin to see that within the high walls of the king’s garden many beautiful activities are taking place. Gardeners are tending the flowers, people are singing and dancing, craftsmen are making shoes, chairs and candlesticks. Only within the walls can friendship, learning and work really take place!
Sometimes it can be enough to give one picture, other times children need to be helped over and over again with their struggles.
We also look at the whole class in an attempt to try to see behind the immediate things that are going on. We picture the whole class, and ask “What does the class need? What challenges does it have? What can I do to help that particular social situation?” This “Ask and ye shall receive” attitude can often be pleasantly surprising, in that an answer does come. This answer may be in the form of an idea for something to do with the class; it may be the impulse to pay more attention to a particular concern; or it could be that simply focusing one’s mind on a situation is enough to help the necessary development take place.
As a faculty, the teachers work together and part of this involves working on our inner nature. We strive towards working out of a common source and inspiration to support the needs of the children in the best possible way. Teachers meet daily and weekly to build this inner substance, which forms part of the basis of the school.
We admit children between the ages of 1.5 and 6. We currently have two mixed-age classes. Parents interested in the Singing Cedars program are welcome to visit the school by prearranged appointment. They may then fill out an application and schedule a pre-admission interview. Singing Cedars welcomes inquiries and admits students of all races, colors, creeds, and ethnic origin. It does not discriminate on the basis of these factors in the admission and tuition policies. Acceptance may be based on such factors as the child’s physical and social readiness and the parents’ willingness to work with the principles of Waldorf education.
Each new child is subject to a trial period, the first month of attendance at the school, after which the parents and teachers decide if this is the appropriate placement for the child. In a rare occasion, it may be determined that the child is not ready for the situation; in which case, parents will be released from all future financial commitments.
Before a child is admitted, the school must have the following:
- A signed enrollment contract
- All forms filled out including
- Emergency Card
- Application Questionnaire
- Interview Questionnaire
- Child Information Form
- All current tuition and fees paid