Wednesday, 7 May 2008

Shean Wenn's first playgroup

After searching for many months for a suitable one, I finally stumbled upon this parent & child group. And what a delight when I found it!

This particular playgroup is part of the "Children's Garden Early Years Centre" and is located within a university campus. The centre based their teaching on Waldorf Education. After reading up on them, I thought Shean Wenn would really benefit from this so I went for the first time today.

(At the waterfront - we had some spare time before the "class" starts)

The facilitator/teacher is Katie and she greeted both me and Shean Wenn at the entrance to "Maple Hut" (one of the 3 rooms of this children's centre) before telling me that she is planning to bake a cake for our meals later on!

(Infront of the children's centre : The wooden structure on the left-back is the building of the centre)

What I liked about Steiner Education (which the centre based its teaching/playing methods) :

>> This is a child-led, but structured play - with activities for the child aged 0-3 years old, and even for the parent!

>> Is based on an understanding of the relevance of the different phases of child development, split into 3 phases :

>> Sees artistic activity and the development of the imagination as integral to learning

>> Steiner Waldorf pedagogy believes that early childhood learning is largely experiential, imitative and sensory-based.The education emphasizes learning through practical activities.

The "structured play" programme mainly consists of the below :
"Free play" - kids play as they like, with the toys which are made of natural resources; ie made of wood, cloth or tins and they interact with kids around them if they so choose. The adults, in the meantime, contribute to the class by helping to "loose some wool" using two steel brushes putting the wool on one of them and brushing the two brushes against each other. It was fun, reminds me of "Kemahiran Hidup" (Living Skills - a subject taught in school) days. At one point during this time, Shean Wenn was chasing around (crawling) a boy who was pushing this wooden duck with flappy legs around the room. It was hilarious, she kept laughing because she is just so entertained by the duck.. and some of the moms were laughing at SW's antics saying she's just a cute baby.

(Riding on a wooden horse)
She was chasing a wooden duck similar to this one pulled along by a boy

Story time and "Circle time" - sit in a group while the teacher tells them a story while singing. We also did a dance around this pole (called "May Pole Dance" which is a traditional dance to celebrate the beginning of warmer weather or the arrival of summer) with ribbons. At around this time, the aroma of the yoghurt cake that is being baked in the oven filled the room. I was feeling hungry!


Cleaning up time & washing hands- Instead of gathering the kids by giving "commands" which I expected from a "teacher", Katie's way of initiating an activity is by singing (as they believe in setting an example to the impressionable kids) what the class will be doing next; ie "Let's wash our hands, come come come. Wash away the dirt with soap... " (something like that).

Meal time - The table has been set and we each take a seat on the little baby chairs. I put SW on a chair as well. This is an important activity as well because it is teaching the kids socialising at the table. The kids got served rice crackers, raisins (SW was not given some due to her age), the freshly baked cake (Yoghurt cake) and some diluted apple juice. The adults got to eat cakes and spiced tea. Halfway enjoying her rice cracker, SW fell asleep on my arms (so cute).

Outdoor time - For kids to venture outside and just "go wild"! They were given a sun hat (hot hot day) and before long, they were running everywhere - jumping on the sandpit, carrying watering cans and filling them with water before pouring it on some poor plants! :) They really enjoyed themselves, I can see. I sat down on a bench with some of the other moms and talked.

*Ps : All the while, whenever there is a new activity going on, the facilitator/teacher will sing a song to prompt the kids (or the parents) to start this new activity.

(The class runs for 2 hours and costs £4)

After the class
Shean Wenn was still asleep in her stroller. It was a beautiful day so I went for a stroll along the waterfront and around the campus. The university was having a "Mayfest" Day - there's a stage with some bands playing, students milling everywhere and having their lunches on the grassy areas overlooking the waterfront, there were some food stalls, some art exhibition going on. The whole place was buzzing with activity!

(Further reading on the Waldorf Education : I did find some critics on the Waldorf education on the www, and although it might be a real concern, I believe at this age I can still "control" SW's cognitive development whether or not this method is "extremist". Giving this the benefit of the doubt, perhaps some Steiner Waldorf education centres has really overdone its teaching methods, by being extremist in its approach. We shall see. See here for context from one of its critics)

1 comment:

Praveen said...

Wow, sounds like a tiring day for both mom & baby!


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