After experiencing the space, time and freedom to play, learn and develop at their own pace in kindergarten, the 6-7 year old children are ready for the exciting new world of school, of letters and numbers, when they move upstairs to lower school.
Class teachers greet the children individually with a handshake every morning, and allow some time to catch up with friends, or perhaps do some drawing, before class starts at 9.00.
The first part of the day is spent in ‘main lesson’, weaving together physical, rhythmic, musical, practical and artistic activities with oral and written work. Main lessons are taught in three-week subject blocks around a curriculum topic, such as literacy, numeracy, geography or history.
This video shows an example of some of the rhythmic activity that starts the day for every class in the School. At the beginning of the video, these 7-9 year old children are performing a ‘Roundelay’ – a kind of gym poem, that they have been learning, before going on to do other typical activities.
Moving, or ‘engaging the will’, before academic work, helps children to concentrate better, develop physical confidence and whilst also supporting the social wellbeing of each class.
Morning break is at 11.00 and after a healthy snack the children go outside to play together for half an hour – in the playground or the field, surrounded by trees, flowers, and actual mud – den building, running, chasing, skipping, stilt-walking, hop-scotching, four-squaring, shooting hoops or storming the castle.
Then the children have subject lessons: French and German (taught initially through games, songs and poems), music, violin, drama, art, painting, handwork, modelling (with clay or beeswax), or form drawing, and later gardening, woodwork, games, religion and science.
After a packed lunch at 1.00 it’s outside for more fresh air, exercise and socialising, before afternoon lessons start at 2.00. We aim to balance our day with the more academic subjects in the mornings, and the more practical and physical lessons in the afternoons.
Pupils discover the joy of movement through a rich curriculum of children’s games and sports: an inclusive programme at the centre of our curriculum, which meets the developmental needs of children throughout the school, promoting physical agility, social awareness, self-esteem and cooperation. Activities include traditional games, as well as athletics, swimming, volleyball, basketball, tennis, climbing and sailing.
Children are inspired by and connected to their natural surroundings, so we spend as much time outside as we can. In their gardening classes the children are busy transforming the kindergarten field – planting borders, vegetable patches and fruit trees, digging and weeding, watering and feeding, and laying in the grass; watching the garden grow.
At the end of the school day the children and teachers shake hands again, to say goodbye, until the morning, when they will take up their conversation anew.