Early Childhood Parent Guide
Overview of Our Program
Our Waldorf Early Childhood classes provide a nurturing environment to gently guide the young child into a rich and lively social world that supports and nourishes their growth and development. Our classes are imbued with healthy rhythms and wholesome activities that meet the young child's specific developmental needs before the age of seven.
A central component of our program is the practice of following reliable rhythms, both over the course of a day and over the course of the school year. The mornings typically consist of creative play, practical activities, an artistic activity, a story, a circle of singing games and finger plays, snack, outside play and lunch. The seasonal rhythms of the year are celebrated in the songs, stories and activities in the classroom, as well as in the festivals celebrated by the whole school.
Parent Child Classes - address the needs of parents with young children ages 6 months to three years old. These classes meet one day each week for the entire school year.
Pre-Kindergarten Classes - meet three days each week, gently guiding the children into our warm and nurturing social environment. These classes are for children three to four years old.
Kindergarten Classes - We have three five-day Kindergarten classes, with each class including young children ages four to six years old. Our Kindergarten classes provide a nurturing environment for the children to grow in, while challenging the older child as he or she moves towards first grade.
Our Mixed Age Classrooms - provide the opportunity for the older children to help and assist the younger children in their learning, while the younger children teach the gift of patience and the need for good role modeling. Because the children often stay in one class for two or three years, those who were younger, experience being the “bigger” children for the new little ones as they mature.
Our program is structured to provide age appropriate activities for all the children. As the class progresses in age and ability, the activities shift to meet the changing needs of the group. The curriculum is designed so that the children can learn from each other, and each child can develop at his or her own pace in a non-competitive setting.
The Rhythm of the Day
The rhythm of the day is designed to provide the child with a variety of activities that provide a balance of inward and outward expressions of self. Alternating these experiences nourishes the well being of the child. Painting, drawing baking, finger knitting, beeswax modeling, sewing, wood working, and other activities require concentration and focus, while free play (indoors and outdoors), clean-up, and circle time call upon the child’s outward self-expression (physical, creative, imaginative). The repetitive nature of the daily rhythm is very calming and consistent, lending itself to the child’s sense of security.
Parent Child Classes Sample Rhythm
|9:00 am||Welcome to our day / creative play time / making bread|
|Clean up song/ tidy our room|
|Washing hands / sharing our snack together|
|Circle of songs|
|11:30 am||Good-bye song / outside to the park to play|
Pre-Kindergarten Class Sample Rhythm
|8:30 am||Welcome / Wash hands for warming beeswax|
Circle of songs and movement
|Creative play time / table activity and snack preparation|
|Clean up song / tidy our room|
|Washing hands/ sharing our snack|
|Outside play time|
|12:30 pm||Good-bye song|
Mixed-Age, 5-day Kindergartens sample Daily Rhythm
|8:30 am||Greet and welcome children|
|Circle time (seasonal songs, verses, movement)|
|Free play and artistic activity such as painting, drawing, sewing, craft projects, beeswax. Snack preparation such as bread baking and soup making also take place during this time.|
|Clean-up, bathroom, hand washing|
|Snack and clean-up|
|Hand washing and lunch|
|12:30 pm||Aftercare begins|
Our mornings are very busy and in order to support the rhythm created it is important that when the classroom doors open in the morning, your child has had the opportunity to use the bathroom, change into his or her slippers, put away their lunches, have a little snuggle time and then one last hug or kiss goodbye before entering the classroom on time. Please take the time to help your child with these important preparations before class starts.
First Weeks of School in Pre-Kindergarten
In the Pre-Kindergarten, we recognize and honor the challenges that can come from the young child’s separation from his or her parents. This separation anxiety is very normal and it is much easier on the child, if the parent truly sets the child free to explore and enjoy their new circle of friends. During the first week or two of our school year, it is not uncommon to have a few children experience difficulties in saying goodbye to their parents. Please try to envision your child feeling comfortable and being able to separate from you quite easily. However, in the event that this does not happen, be prepared to stay a little longer in the morning to assist with their integration into the classroom activity.
First Weeks of School in the Mixed Age, 5-Day Kindergarten
Each child experiences coming to school and saying good-bye to their parent in their own way. Some parents are amazed at how easy it is for their child when they expected something very different. The important part to remember is that if the parent is relaxed and confident in leaving their child, then the child truly senses this and is able to make the transition smoothly. It is an exciting time when first starting school and it is natural to want to be with your child. It may take a few minutes longer at first, but in our experience, the quicker you are able to say good-bye, the easier it will be for you and your child. If at any time we feel a child is not ready to begin school (or be at school) we will immediately call you to discuss ideas and options.
What to Bring the First Day of Preschool and Kindergarten
Below is the basic list of items to bring to school. Your class teacher may ask you to bring additional items. Please label everything with your child’s name.
- A complete change of clothes to be left at school (See: Clothing/extra)
- Well-fitting simple slippers with a covered heel that stay on the feet
- Rain coat with hood, rain pants and rain boots that your child will happily wear
- A healthy lunch packed in a plain wicker basket with a cloth napkin
- Emergency kit – each child must have one. Please see chapter 14 for a detailed list of these items.
What Not to Bring to School
- Clothing, slippers, shoes, pre-packaged food or any items bearing media inspired logos, characters, and graphics
- Nail polish
- Temporary tattoos
- Toys, jewelry, stickers, makeup, lip balm
- Open-toed shoes
- Sports uniforms or sport caps
- Camouflage clothing
Thank you in advance for supporting us by not sending your child to school with any of these items.
Below is a typical example of the Kindergarten weekly snack schedule according to the grain of the day. Your classroom might be a little different.
|Rice||Oats||Millet/bread day||Rye||Barley soup|
Our snacks are prepared and served with quality, wholesome, organic grains and ingredients. When we bake we use agave, honey, or organic maple syrup instead of white sugar. Snack is served with filtered water. We do our best to accommodate food sensitivities. Please let your class teacher know if your child has specific dietary needs.
We encourage healthy eating habits during our snack time in the preschool and kindergartens and would like to have these guidelines followed for lunch as well. By encouraging you to pack fresh whole foods whenever possible for lunch as well.
Be sure your child’s lunch is fully prepared and ready to eat as we will not have time to heat lunches. Cold lunches can be packed on top of a cold pack. Containers should be easy to open and close by your little one. Pack all utensils needed to eat the meal—we do not have extra utensils in our classrooms. Always, always pack water. Everything should fit securely in a plain wicker basket with two cloth napkins.
Always pack a lunch for your child everyday, even if there’s a potluck scheduled.
Some healthy lunch ideas that you can pack for lunch include: soup, or grains in a thermos, dinner leftovers, nut butter, meat, or veggie sandwiches on whole grain bread, cheese, hard boiled egg, seasonal fruit and veggies, seeds, salads, salad rolls, sushi rolls or yogurt.
Please do not pack overly processed foods, sugary or salty foods. Do not send your child to school with cookies, candy, chocolate, granola bars, potato chips, juice boxes, sports drinks, “squeezy” foods (i.e yogurt), lunchables, or gum.
Creating a Healthy Rhythm at Home
The daily, weekly, and yearly rhythms of the school year have a deep significance for children. In the kindergarten and preschool, the regular daily rhythm, the ebb and rise, the in-breathing and out-breathing of activities, is one in which one element flows smoothly into the next. This is calming for the young child and offers a sense of security through which will-forces can be strengthened and imagination can take shape. The form provided by the rhythm allows the children to live in a dream consciousness in which they can unselfishly and wholeheartedly participate in the day’s experiences.
When the rhythm of the school is supported by established, nurturing routines at home, the child is able to experience these early years of life in healthy and harmonious way. We invite you to bring as much rhythm into your child’s life as you possibly can. Create rituals such as lighting a candle and reading or telling a little story before bedtime. Set regular times for eating, sleeping, and waking. Perhaps your child can help set the table for supper. Allow there to be a flow of in-breathing and out-breathing activities at home. For example, time together in shared activity can be alternated with time doing separate activities. Free activity can alternate with structured activity.
Not only will the experience of external structure have a long term effect for the child’ development of internal structure and discipline, but also the flowing quality of a wholesome rhythm at home will nourish and sustain your child as they grow. This is one of the greatest gifts you can give your child in today’s busy world and it can be quite therapeutic for all.
AN ALPHABETICAL LISTING OF IMPORTANT THINGS TO KNOW
As a State Certified Early Childhood Facility we are mandated by the state to take attendance daily. It is important that you telephone the school office if your child is going to be absent or late (15 minutes or more). Each teacher takes attendance and the office records it daily.
Extended Day Program
We are pleased to offer extended day programming for families. Information regarding Extended Day Program including enrollment procedures can be obtained from the office staff or by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org
Arrival at School
Upon arrival please have your child use the bathroom, wash hands, and wait quietly in the halls. If you arrive early enough, feel free to take a brief walk, play in the park, courtyard or to read a book. We find the children that arrive early and have this transition time before entering the classroom are much more comfortable in their schooling experience.
In the 5-day program all children say goodbye at the door. If your child has had a rough night, or any traumas before getting to school please share with your teacher at drop off with a note. It is in the best interest of the child that parent teacher conversations are kept to a minimum at the door. Sometimes EC children have difficulty transitioning into the classroom, but there is no need to worry, as all of the teachers are confident in nurturing your child through this process.
Breakfast at Home
With the preponderance of evidence suggesting that breakfast is key, the next question becomes: Does it matter what kind of breakfast children eat? The answer is yes. Your early childhood teachers can provide you a range of ways to help your child start the day with a healthy breakfast and simple ideas to make breakfast a beautiful start to the family day. A healthy breakfast is an important step to the health and well being of your child. We recommend that your child sits down at the family table and has a good 15-20 minutes to nourish themselves. We highly recommend a warm breakfast and discourage sugary cold cereals. Simple and healthy breakfast choices could include be a fruit smoothie and toast with nutty butter, or scrambled egg and rice. Asking other parents what they serve their child is a good way to get ideas.
At Cedarwood Waldorf School each child’s birthday is honored and celebrated as a joyous occasion. In the Early Childhood program each class celebrates in their own way. Your child’s teacher will share with you the date of your child’s celebration and your family’s participation. We do welcome the whole family to come celebrate, so even if both parents cannot to attend we encourage at least one parent to come. Siblings, grandparents, and other people particularly important in your child’s life are also welcome.
Change of Address or Contact Info
Please be sure the office has all of your up to date contact information (correct address, phone numbers, and email) including your emergency contact information. In addition please make sure someone is always available if we need to contact you during the Kindergarten morning.
Each teacher welcomes parents into the classroom at different times. Your teacher will explain when those opportunities are available. For some children, it may be better for the parent to wait until the child has adjusted to the new environment before visiting. Anytime you are in the classroom, including morning drop off in the hallway, we ask that you remember that this is a child’s environment. All adults are asked to be mindful that our speech is soft and direct. The teachers’ foremost responsibility in the classroom is to attend to the interactions of the children, and there may be little opportunity for conversation with parents. Please be mindful of talking to our assistants as they are there to serve the children too.
Please dress your child in plain, simple, layered (short sleeve, long sleeve and sweater) play clothes, including undergarments, which allow your child to move freely and to use the bathroom by themselves. We ask that you not dress your child in clothing decorated with media characters, costumes, camouflage, or sports uniforms. Please save dress up clothes for our festivals.
We go outside in rain or shine, so it is important for your child to come to school prepared for changes in the weather.
Running, playing, jumping, rolling, crawling, and on some days, climbing and digging, are all a natural part of our healthy outside playtime. Please be sure your child is dressed in comfortable, sturdy shoes that fit well so that he or she can make the most of their outside time. Please do not have them wear open toe shoes, clogs, slip on, cleats, or flip-flops.
As autumn and winter approach, your child will need a warm coat that fits well and can accommodate a sweater underneath when necessary. Your child should also have a warm hat, gloves, and something to cover their legs on cold days. We have found that wool socks and wool long underwear are wonderful for keeping little ones from getting chilled both inside and outside of our school building.
Extra clothing (as outlined in what to bring on the first day) should be left in your child’s cubby. You may be asked to provide a simple, plain, canvas bag to contain the extra clothing or your class teacher may supply something for you.
Please make sure all clothing is labeled with your child’s name and check your child’s cubby frequently for soiled clothing. Be sure to re-stock the clothing bag as necessary.
The following items should be kept in the cubby. Your class teacher might have some additional requests as well. Please make sure that all clothing for school are things that your child will wear happily.
- A complete change of clothing appropriate for the season, long and short sleeve shirts, pants, two pairs of socks and underwear, sweater or sweat shirt
- Raincoat with hood, rain pants, and rain boots that fit well. Raincoats must be able to accommodate a sweater or coat underneath.
- Slippers that fit securely and stay on the feet with the heel covered
The Early Childhood teachers use a variety of ways to let parents know about upcoming activities, celebrations, field trips, parent evenings, festivals and other events at the school. Each teacher has their own preferred method of communication with parents including telephone, email lists, and/or letters and other written materials and notices on bulletin boards outside of each classroom and/or on the door of the class, as well as in each child’s cubby or lunch carrier.
If you have a concern about your child, the classroom, or the school environment, it is best to start by talking with your child’s lead teacher. Concerns that transcend a given classroom or cannot be resolved by the teacher should be brought to the Early Childhood Chair, who will communicate with your child’s teacher and the Head of School to ensure there is resolution. The early childhood teachers work together to resolve issues and share pertinent information at our early childhood meetings every Tuesday afternoon.
Ongoing and open communication between parents and teachers is vital to your child’s well-being. If teachers know that your child didn’t sleep well the previous night, or is sad over the loss of a pet, they can do a better job of understanding and meeting the child’s needs. Please do keep us informed about any major changes in your child’s home life, and any other events that might be affecting him or her. Please feel free to let us know of any other concerns you may have about your child.
All of our teachers work out of a loving and caring context when it comes to redirecting your child. Often when a child is acting out or seeking attention it is because there is something that they need. Your child’s teacher looks at the whole child—by observing each child’s whole being we can begin to see deeper into what each child needs. Often a child may simply need to sit and take a few deep breaths. Your child’s teacher knows that each child learns in different ways and we honor that. It is our goal to work with each child and to encourage positive behavior and self control in order to create healthy self-esteem. Each teacher will use techniques that help move through challenging times such as: listening, using humor, using gentle images and telling creative stories to redirect behavior, regrouping children in play scenarios, or giving children a special role involving their cooperation. Every so often if a child is non-responsive to the teacher, assistant, or other children, we may need to call their parents and recommend a mindful day at home. Positive discipline is an essential tool for our teachers and integral to our school’s philosophy.
The seasons and their festivals are celebrated throughout the year in circle songs, stories and in activities and crafts. Festivals are the heart of Waldorf schools. Each season we honor the world around us and the changes that occur in nature. This is done uniquely by each teacher in many different ways. The nature table also reflects the beauty of each season. Some festivals are celebrated by the whole Cedarwood community and when appropriate, parents are invited to help prepare and celebrate in the classroom. We encourage you to reflect upon the festivals and traditions that are special to your family and would welcome you to share them with your child’s class.
Although many of the festivals we celebrate are associated with particular world religions, the school is non-sectarian and non-denominational, and is committed to providing Waldorf education to all families without economic, social, religious or racial prejudice. (See Chapter 12 on Festivals and Seasonal Rhythms for more information.)
During the transition times of the school day, when you bring your child to school and pick them up after school, we ask that you follow the simple guidelines below when you are in the hallway with your child.
Our Early Childhood classes have a combined enrollment of approximately 70 students, which including the parents, gives us over 140 people in the hallways at one time. There is also the 1st grade class in our lower halls, as well, so it is imperative that everyone keeps their voices very quiet and that parents help remind the children to use their “inside voices.” The Early Childhood faculty truly appreciates parents and children cooperating with the following requests:
Use walking feet in the hallways—never run, hop or skip.
- Use quiet inside voices at all times in the hallways
- Assist your children quietly with using the bathroom and washing both before and after school.
- Children must always be accompanied by an adult, and never sent on their own to the bathroom or back into the building after school.
- Only walking down the stairway—no running or skipping. Never allow children to slide on the banister.
- No toy car rolling in the hallways (little toys from home). All personal toys should be left at home or in the car.
- All parent conversations should occur after you have said good-bye to your child and these parent socializing times should happen away from the classroom cubby areas.
Your child's health is very important to all of us. While we are very conscious about frequently washing hands during the school day and disinfecting surfaces after the children go home, it is inevitable that children in a group setting will experience minor illnesses during the school year. It is very important to keep your child at home if they develop any symptoms of a possible illness, as well as keeping them home until they are no longer contagious. If your child becomes ill during the school day, we will contact you immediately to come and pick them up as soon as possible, as we are not equipped to care for sick children. We will certainly keep your child comfortable until you arrive, but will need to isolate them from the other children to keep the illness from spreading. If your child develops a communicable disease, (head lice or pinworms for example), please notify us at once.
Always keep your child home if he or she has symptoms associated with any other communicable disease, such as:
- Any flu symptoms such as: sore throat, neck ache, abdominal pain, stomachache, constant cough, reddened eyes, constant sneezing, thick or constant nasal discharge, headache
- Fever (staying home for 24 hours after fever has ceased)
- Any illness serious enough to require antibiotics (staying home 48 – 72 hours after treatment begins)
- Chicken Pox (staying home until last blister is scabbed over)
- Conjunctivitis or Pinkeye (staying home until 24 hours after treatment starts)
- Diarrhea (staying home until 24 hours after diarrhea has ceased)
- Impetigo (staying home until 24 hours after treatment starts)
- Lice (staying home until a proper treatment has been started) Because lice can spread so quickly though a class, please routinely check your child's scalp and become familiar with what to look for. The CDC has excellent resources here.
- Pinworms (staying home until 24 hours after treatment starts)
- Ringworm (staying home until 24 hours after treatment starts)
- Vomiting (staying home for 24 hours after vomiting ceases)
Please do not pack medicine of any kind, including homeopathic remedies, or cough drops in your child’s lunch basket or cubby. Emergency medication, labeled with your child’s name and a date, must be taken to the office for secure storage.
The Waldorf philosophy emphasizes using creative imagery to spark the imagination and encourage harmonious play. The images children get from TV, videos, computer games, and movies can work against the creativity the child draws from within. The strong influence media has on small children is quite visible in many ways in the Kindergarten, from re-enacting scenes during playtime to being unable to sit still during story time, making it a challenging time rather than a time of wonderment and delight.
We ask that you limit your child’s viewing and, in particular, that you do not allow your child to view any TV, videos, computer games, or movies, in the morning before school or in the evening before bedtime. Rather, we encourage you to explore alternative activities with your child. (See Chapter 5 for more information.)
Parent Events and Evenings
Parent events are held at various times throughout the year; some are primarily educational and others more social. Your class teacher will hold a class meeting or parent evening with parents at least once each quarter of the school year. These meetings are for discussing the class’s development, social issues, academic readiness, and projects, as well as to come together as a class community to support one another on the parenting journey. We highly encourage at least one parent in each family to attend each parent evening to get to know your child’s teacher as well as other parents in the school.
To augment the ongoing informal communication between parents and teachers, formal conferences are scheduled once yearly for each family, usually before the Thanksgiving holiday. Parents will be notified of available conference times well in advance. Parents of children going into the following year’s first grade will also have a spring conference. If you feel the need for an additional conference at another time, please contact your child’s teacher.
We expect your child to be potty trained along with self-sufficiency and comfort with wiping themselves. Occasionally a child will regress upon entering school and in order to support your child through this transition we encourage open communication about your child’s needs.
The toys we provide for your children to play with at school are of high quality wood and fibers. We work to create a warm natural nurturing environment for your child’s senses. We do not have toys made of synthetic materials or plastic in our classes. Plastics have been proven to dull senses and have harmful off gassing.
We teach the children to play with care, but every so often a toy gets broken or a cloth gets torn. If we send one of these items home for repair please have your child help in fixing it. In addition, sometimes treasures will find their way home from the Kindergarten in a child’s pocket or lunch basket—please return them to the classroom the following day.
Cedarwood is made up of an incredible group of parents and community. Parental participation is an essential part of what makes Cedarwood a wonderful place to be. We welcome you to volunteer as much as you can, yet we fully understand if your home or work life doesn’t allow it.
Some of the most common ways of volunteering include helping in your child’s class, the Annual Auction, preparing faculty snacks and helping with festivals. There are many other ways to serve the school at large. Please speak to your child’s teacher to see where your skill set would serve best. Thank you in advance.
Early Childhood Playground Safety Policies
It is the policy of the Cedarwood Early Childhood faculty to create an engaging and safe experience for the young child while enjoying the use of the public park located next to our school.
All faculty members are aware of the following procedures and keep a current copy of the policy and procedures together with their first aid basket for their personal reference. Any assistants and/or substitute teachers that may be helping on a given day will have these items as well.
Early Childhood Playground and EC Play Yard Rules
We provide the children with our utmost care and attention while supervising them in their outdoor playtime. Please abide by these rules at all times, before, during and after school while using Lair Hill Park or the EC Play Yard when you are with children from the age of 1-7 yrs old:
- Encourage cooperative play. There should be no teasing, taunting, hitting or pushing at the playground.
- All EC children must be accompanied at all times by a supervising adult. All faculty and guardians are there for the purpose of observing the children and should keep conversation to a minimum.
- All adults and children should be properly dressed and layered for the weather. If clothing is wet, the child needs to be changed immediately (please see EC dress code policy).
- To allow the grades children to run freely during their recess or in other areas of the park we ask that EC families be mindful of their recess time after school.
- All EC faculty use safety cones creating a safe and secure play area for the children when supervising EC children in the park. Children are expected to stay within the coned in area of play during the school hours.
- Portland Parks and Recreation asks that there is no digging in the park or climbing of trees in the park.
- Children should not plug the holes of the wading pool with sticks, mud or debris.
- All adults should immediately notify the office of any unsafe or suspicious activity, persons, or potential dangers in the park, so that the school can contact the appropriate officials.
- The long metal slide is only for sliding down on bottoms with feet first at all times. There should be no jumping off, climbing up, hanging on, nor sitting or blocking the bottom of the slide. The metal slide is off limits when it is raining.
- Sticks should be used only in a safe manner and free of swinging or sword play. No running with sticks. All sticks stay in the park.
- Rough play, wrestling, exclusion and hitting are not allowed.
- The play structures are for climbing play only, not for any running, tag or chase games. Running and chase games to be played on the grassy area only.
- The monkey bars and rings are for hands only, never for putting feet through.
- Children must keep their whole body on the merry-go-round structure. There should be no hanging on the side, upside down, heads down, or limbs off. Children, not adults, should push the merry-go-round.
- The bark chip and concrete areas are for walking only. The grass and dirt areas are for running.
- Children should always remain sitting while in the bucket swings.
- The brick walls and fences are not for climbing.
- Children must always have shoes on their feet while at the playground.
- Jump ropes are for jumping or tying swings. They are not for running or tying around bodies.
- No yelling or looking in lower level classroom windows.
- Tools are to be used only with EC faculty supervision. When using tools children should be sure that care and caution is being used. Tools should be kept close to the ground, below their heads, careful of dirt or sand in eyes. Make sure all tools are properly put away.
- Use common sense when using the playground.
- Dogs must be on a leash and with owners at all times.
- Any injury needs to be reported to an EC teacher and then will be written up as an incident report and reported to School Chair.
Early Childhood Playground Safety Procedures
- Before exiting the building the teacher and/or the assistant will take a full attendance count and record of the children present.
- The teacher will carry an attendance record that lists the names of children present and accounted for during departure count. This attendance list will be labeled with class name and will be carried in the first aid basket and be available for anyone who needs it if an emergency arises.
- The first class outside will carry safety cones and place them appropriately to create a boundary for where the children may play. The teachers and assistants will place themselves around the perimeter of the play area and move accordingly to cover areas as needed. Also the teachers and assistants will “rove” while monitoring the children’s play.
- At the time of lining up, before leaving the playground, the teacher and assistant will take a full attendance count of the children. Each class teacher and/or assistant will take at least one count of the children on the playground during the outdoor time.