When the children begin their formal learning in Class 1 of the lower school, they are aged 6-7 years old. Through their freedom to play in the kindergarten, the children are now eager to embrace the exciting new world of letters and numbers.
What follows is an approximate picture of the flow of a typical day at our school and how literacy and numeracy are gradually approached and integrated by the child.
As the children arrive in the morning and are greeted by their teacher, they are encouraged to come to their desk to engage in drawing, clay modeling, finger knitting or another activity before coming together in a circle at 9 a.m. to begin the school day.
In class 1, the first 40 minutes or so of the day are spent skipping, singing, reciting poetry together, playing the recorder and engaging in other movement activities. This provides a wide sensory and emotional environment whereby the children are engaged in their whole being in preparation for coming to their desks to begin their book work.
In literacy lessons, this work is approached through narrative and, depending on the age of the child, may be related through fairy tale, fable, myth or later on, history. The child then works with this material, artistically and through writing.
Numeracy evolves naturally out of form drawing, movement, song and recitation, allowing the children to develop an understanding of number drawn from direct experience. Again, by appealing to the child’s burgeoning powers of imagination and thirst for stories, children are engaged very naturally in the four processes and their first steps into problem solving.
Children learn about the world through their senses. Part of the child’s rich, sensory diet is provided by subjects like handwork, modeling and, above all, playing in a natural setting, surrounded by trees, flowers, grass and real mud!
The artistic element is at the centre of each child’s learning. It is through colour, rather than form, that the children learn about the expression of mood. Each lesson is created afresh by the teacher, in the knowledge that learning must be a living, artistic activity, and that true learning can never come from a textbook.
As the children progress through the Lower School, the artistic, rhythmic and musical elements remain central to their experience. As they awaken quite naturally to a greater consciousness of the world in which they live, so they are able to engage with and take possession of more and more of what it has to offer.