ISKA also supports Siolta, the National Quality Framework for Early Childhood Care and Education through the provision of a Siolta Co-ordinator, currently Ulrike Farnleitner, the National Development Officer.
It is ISKA's intention that all Steiner Kindergartens nationally, listed on our website be engaged with the Siolta Quality Assurance process.
Siolta is a participatory process towards the improvement and enrichment of young children's early, and arguably most critical, life experiences and is compatible with and supportive of the integral commitment to quality of all Steiner Kindergartens.
Siolta mentoring will now be priced as a package. When your team is ready to participate formally in the Siolta Quality Assurance Process, an agreement can be drawn up between you and Ulrike Farnleitner, Siolta mentor. This will include a schedule of visits and workshops plus a realistic timeframe for completion of components. ISKA will endeavor to keep these costs as low as is possible. Travel is the main expense for ISKA, so the more a team can achieve on their own or within local peer groups / workshops, the lower the cost can be kept.
“We do not educate the child for the age of childhood, we educate him for his whole earthly existence” Rudolf Steiner, The Roots Of Education 1924
The focus of the Waldorf Steiner pedagogy is to respect the individuality and to foster the dignity of the child. The adults understand themselves as care takers and teachers for the growing child.
In a trustworthy, light filled and joyful atmosphere a respectful relationship with the child is built up assisting the child to find, through imitation, doing and moving, a freedom in learning and in this way the child develops as a healthy human being.
“The Waldorf curriculum not only matches the key developmental stages of childhood but also stimulates important developmental experiences” The educational task and content of the Steiner Waldorf curriculum, Martyn Rawson and Tobias Richter
The aim of Steiner Waldorf education is to educate the whole child, head, heart and hands. The Steiner Waldorf curriculum is broad and balances the needs of children.
Movement, exploring art and participating in practical activities are at the heart of the educational approach.
There is no academic content in the Steiner Waldorf kindergarten experience although there is much cultivation of pre-academic skills.
The understanding of school readiness is stated in the Irish constitution 2000. The child has time until 6 years of age to go to school, while the size of the group and the ratio of adults working is determined by the H.S.E. Regulation 2006.
Through the principles of Steiner/Waldorf pedagogy, the early years teacher creates the environment in a such a way, that the inner development of the teacher (using a method called Anthroposophy) beneficially influences the daily curriculum.
These principles, deeply based in the Steiner ethos can be found reflected in the more recently considered Siolta principles.
Role model and imitation: during the day the children can witness the adults working on different themes, household tasks like baking, cooking and cleaning. Arts and crafts, sewing, felting, repairing toys and using tools. Children join in the activity imitating what they see.(Role of adult)
Rhythm: within the rhythmical repetition created throughout the day, week and year, children receive orientation, security, self assurance and trust .(Welfare, Children first, Pedagogy)
Sense-development: while working with natural materials, e.g. wood, wool, stones, shells, the simple forms of these materials themselves, kindle and engage the imagination of the children in vivid activity. (environments)
Play: during the day the children have the possibility to play most of the time, inside and outside to transform their experiences and to be part of the social interaction.(diversity, equality, relationships)
Outside-time: children experience Nature through hands-on experiences, witnessing the weather, seasons and temperatures, they learn to dress themselves appropriately (welfare, environments)
Art: children are supported through a vast variety of artistic activities, rhythmical-musical and movement games, singing, modelling, painting, weaving, sewing....
Literacy: Children are acquainted with language through repetitive finger-games, stories, pupppetshows and fairytales, all age appropriate and freely told by the adult.
Diversity is a primary characteristic of the human being. It is useful to apply character typology to understand people, such as recognising temperaments, constitutional types, psychological types, cultural characteristics, geographical differences …the most dominant characteristic is always the individuality.
Development and Movement: human development can be seen as the interaction between the spiritual core of the person striving to come ever more fully to expression (within) and the sense impressions coming in through the physical body (from outside). First the body must become a home for soul and spirit, one with windows and doors to the world. Then it must become the means through which the individual engages in the world.
Festivals: each child’s biography is valued through birthday celebrations.
We mark and appreciate the cycle of the year, through the celebration of festivals. We do this by coming close to nature and to the spiritual aspect of that moment in a very practical, and participatory way.
Parents: The relationship with the parent group is fundamental to our work, this is built and nourished through open communication, parent evenings, information talks, celebrating festivals together, home visits and visits to the kindergarten, in this way a bridge is built between the home and the kindergarten.
Teachers: hold the responsibility for implementing the underlying ethos of the Steiner pedagogy. Teachers meet on a weekly basis, outside of the contact time with the children.
The lead teacher, the assistant and volunteers work as a team, organising the setting in such a way as to provide a family environment away from home.
The committee: consists of parents and interested people caring for the management of the childcare setting as an entity. The board represents the legal rights and duties of the organisation.
There are several questions that are vital to be asked and to be considered regularly. These questions are considered to be vital for your working with children:
What is our picture of the child? In this work we are working with the living substance of the developing the child. Respect, understanding, professional know how, love, reverence and care are needed. We need observations skills and the ability to ask ourselves the right questions. Every setting is a unique environment for the children that come and are cared for and educated.
How does the rhythm fit the children and the needs of this particular setting? Children need input and then time to digest. We call our settings Kindergartens, 'kinder' means children and 'garten' means garden.
How do we make a garden for children? We aim to have NO stress, anger, telling off, but lots of laughter, humour, working with Nature, feeling connected and giving the child the message “You are o.k. as you are.” We believe in creative discipline and aim to prevent difficult situations by being aware of the situation and by knowing our children every day a bit better. Our aim is also to help them become truly “social beings”. The surroundings need to be true and beautiful
“Beauty is truth, truth is beauty, that is all ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.” John Keats
It is therefore vital to know the image of the human being that Rudolf Steiner has suggested we base our work on.
The image of the human being
To educate the human being towards true humanity was Rudolf Steiner’s biggest desire. The world is like a stage on which we act. We are interconnected with our fellow human beings.
“Look out in the world and you know yourself, look in yourself and you know the world “
Through this vice versa we can understand that we influence our surroundings and conversely we are influenced by what surrounds us. But as it is said “what feed us in the bread is not matter but what created matter”. As experiences show there is more to explore than just what our senses tell us. Even a thought is super-sensible and we all know we have plenty of them throughout the day. In order to create we have to first have an idea and then we bring it into matter. One can say that this is a rule of all our deeds. Looking at the child in the first 7 years we can recognise a different approach to life. “The child is a doer” and only through actively engaging with the world, i.e. through touching and moving using all the senses the child can understand the world.
“Only through movement the child learns to think”
Rudolf Steiner indicated that this first stage of life is vital for the whole life. We need to understand the value of childhood and protect it. As we know every child goes through a series of predetermined developments yet the child has no influence on these what so ever.
“The child is a whole sense organ” R. Steiner, Education of the Child
The human being builds up in his soul, his own inner world, this is created in connection with feelings, impressions and thought forms…………