The daily routine in kindergarten...offers -through its particular structure and the activities- so much inspiration for home, that I had the idea to write down my experiences from our Waldorf kindergarten (on which my son has been a few month now).
Each weekday is under a different motto and Wednesday is the forest day.
On this day the children bring a backpack with a snack and a bottle from home. The children should be dressed warmly and wear long clothing even in summer. Depending on the weather, the children are dressed in the kindergarten with their mudpants and rubber boots.
For the hike, all children stand by the hand.
Two carts packed...with beverages, breads, spare clothes and a first-aid kit are pulled or pushed by the children.
The path to the forest of the kindergarten is not long - about 15 minutes. Three streets have to be crossed (in the residential area). The entire pulk stops in front of each street. The children are encouraged to be quiet and listen to the approaching cars and keep an eye out for them. If there is no car to be seen and heard, the whole group crosses the street, one after another in two rows. They sing a song ( „A long chain, oh - how nice we want to go to the forest“) to remind the children to stay together and to make the environment aware of the children. In the forest, too, the children are to run in the row until the special place for the kindergarten is reached.
The forest of the kindergarten is a small piece of land (few hundred square meters) in the middle of the village forest - at the edge of our village. It is not fenced or limited. There are nettles, thorns, mushrooms and everything else that grows and lives in our local woods.
Once the whole group has arrived, they stand around a tree stump in the circle and hold on to the hands. Nobody speaks and it is waited until the children of themselves come to rest and finally no longer babble or giggle. If it is quite quiet, a teacher would ask a child to report what it can hear. The first child starts and says, for example, "I've heard a cuckoo." And that's how it goes on. Each child briefly says what it hears - in the silence of the forest: the wind, an airplane, bees or a distant lawnmower. Some children also hear nothing or say, they only hear the voices of the children and the teachers. When each child has reported about its forest sounds, they all agree to a song and they pray.The nurses lay out old blankets in the circle around where the children can sit. Before each child is allowed to unpack his backpack and eat the vedible bread brought, it is prayed once more. They all stay together until they're all ready. When all are ready, the kids pack their backpacks and place them in the cart.
Afterwards the children are free to playThere are felled great climbing trees, and a ditch over where a bridge was built with tree trunks. Sometimes the kindergarten-teachers strain a slackline to balance.
There are small groups. Some are looking for snails, others are collecting sticks, some are playing catch. The children move freely through the forest - as there is no limit. It is understood that the children do not move too far from "the herd". Obviously the nurses are at the important points, so that they always keep an eye on all children. In a corner of the forest, the children are allowed to "go to the toilet". Garbage and toilet paper are collected in rubbish bags and taken back home with them.After their way back to the kindergarten, the children are already expected by their parents. Some children stay for lunch and the afternoon, as it is a full-day kindergarten (the first full-day Waldorf kindergarten in Germany).
During our familiarization period in kindergarten, I was able to gather these experiences when I accompanied my son. While he was often crying, was uncertain, or was looking for me in the usual nursery school day, all that was completely forgotten in the forest. I sensibly felt how free he felt here - in nature - and also showed it through his indifference.
Many kindergartens in the area offer regular forest days - but it can only be carried out with sufficient staffing. I think, however, that it is not done with a "simple forest day". The special Waldorf education, the training of the senses, the contact with the environment in the Waldorf kindergarten make up a lot - and above all
This is my first english blogpost. I hope it is readable. Please leave a comment, if you are interested in more blogposts in english.
Are you also in to mindful family life, waldorf education or other things like that. Let me know! I'm interested in contacts.