Rudolf Steiner schools had their beginnings in the midst of the social chaos of Germany in 1919. Rudolf Steiner created a school which would enable the children to develop personal capacities in such a way that they would have the strength, integrity and hope, to work for a positive economic, political and spiritual future.
The first school, known as the FreeWaldorfSchool, grew rapidly to a thousand pupils, from kindergarten to high school. Soon, other schools opened in various parts of Europe and world wide. Recognition of the value of these schools has spread so that in some countries, such as Denmark, Norway and parts of Germany, they obtain full financial support from their governments.
There are 10 Waldorf/Steiner schools and 24 Steiner kindergartens currently operating in New Zealand (2016).
The Waiheke Steiner Kindergarten, strives to provide a protective and meaningful environment worthy of imitation, in order to support the healthy development of the senses and to strengthen the child’s developing will forces. Sensory impressions are carefully selected within the kindergarten environment and opportunities provided for children to experience a range of purposeful activities and to experience caring and respectful relationships with both adults and children. Children model their behaviour on the examples they see around them.
The efforts of teachers and adults to provide good human role models is seen as being paramount in the education of young children and in supporting positive behaviour. The provision of a consistent rhythm in daily activities is also seen as an essential element in the kindergarten environment, encouraging children to feel a sense of belonging and well-being and supporting the physical development of the child.
Child behaviour management is supported by a consistent and reliable rhythm within the kindergarten day in which children can feel a deep sense of security. Daily and weekly events are brought into a regular ‘breathing’ rhythm and this extends into an awareness of the yearly rhythm and the cycles of nature and the seasons, extending children’s connection to the natural environment.
The Kindergarten curriculum combines modern teaching practice with indications given by Rudolf Steiner to the teachers of the first Waldorf school in Germany 1919. Teachers work within these indications and interpret them according to the needs of their group, whilst evolving them to meet modern principals.
The curriculum is not, nor ever was intended to be fixed and unalterable. It relies instead on each teacher’s curriculum knowledge, teaching skill, creative faculties and love and understanding of the individual children. The teachers also work out of the State curriculum, Te Whariki. The two curricula are completely harmonious and in no way contradict each other.
A positive emphasis is place on bi-cultural diversity and understanding in order to weave the essence of Rudolf Steiner principals, with that of modern teaching methods supported by the Ministry of Education in New Zealand today.