The three R’s: Rhythm, repetition and reverence

The three R’s: Rhythm, repetition and reverence

Rhythm, repetition and reverence are themes that run throughout the entire length and breadth of the Steiner curriculum. They are especially important during the early years, setting up important habits for life. When children can safely rely upon what will happen during each part of their day or morning, through repeated activities with their own rhythm, their sense of security and well-being is dramatically affected. All of this impacts on their ability to learn and retain information.

  • Constant changes can often invoke anxiety in the developing child. Healthy, repetitive activities and rhythms ensure that learning is both easier and more effective, as well as helping children to seamlessly flow from one activity to the next.
  • In the Kindergarten, each day follows the same basic rhythm (for example free play, followed by circle time, snack time, outside time and then a story). There is also a weekly rhythm too - for example painting on Monday, bread-making on Tuesday and so on.
  • With each season also comes the reliable rhythm of particular festivals -  harvest time in October, the lantern festival of November and rites of spring and summertime, like the Maypole festival in May or the St Johns festival in June.
  • Even older children and adults feel a sense of security from these rhythms and repetitions and find them calming.  
 “Earth who gives to us this food,
Sun who makes it ripe and good.
Dear Earth, dear sun, through you we live,
To you our loving thanks, we give.”

(Typical prayer offered at snack/meal time)

 

Reverence is another unique feature of our approach to educating your child. This is created through the many verses that are learnt by rote, (also a part of the curriculum and building strong foundations for literacy), or the candles that are lit at specific points in the day, alongside class singing and moments creating silence together.

In this way the inner spirit of each child feels a sense of nourishment and calm in a non-secular way. We instil a sense of appreciation in our children for the world around them, as they routinely give thanks for snacks and meals and the bounty of the earth.

    Experiential learning: Why we place our emphasis on learning through doing

    Experiential learning: Why we place our emphasis on learning through doing

    Experiential learning forms the basis of much of the teaching at Greenwich Steiner School. The opportunity to touch, feel, act, draw or make something related to the subject of one's learning, especially in childhood, can significantly enhance a child’s educational experience. Learning takes place in many different ways, albeit, visual, kinaesthetic or aural amongst others. Our method enables us to differentiate the learning experience, as we also work with children’s own unique temperaments, to make their classroom experience relevant and focused.

    • Kindergarten children grind grain in stone mills to make flour and then make bread from the flour. Children in Class 3 learn about farming by visiting a farm and feeding the animals, collecting eggs and digging the fields, as well as learning about the same in the classroom.
    • The building project in Class 3 sees children actively engaged in creating something with their own hands. (If you decided to visit our school – and we hope you will, please do check out the benches opposite our front entrance. These were made by a Class 3).
    • Through these sort of practical projects, children learn about Maths, Physics and Chemistry, as well getting to participate in actual physical work, something so vital for both their physical and emotional development.
    • When Class 4 children learn about rivers in geography, children not only learn about the River Thames in their classroom, but also get to walk alongside it. Children get to see first hand the many different stages of the river that they have already learnt about.
    • Before learning to work on computers, our Middle School children actually unscrew and look inside the physical structure of the computer. They get to work out and learn about what each bit of the hardware actually is and what it is responsible for. This empowers children to be responsible learners with a real and practical understanding of the things that they are studying.

    Storytelling

    Storytelling

    Did you know that storytelling develops concentration AND offers a strong foundation for literacy?

     Storytelling is a central theme that develops throughout the different stages of the Steiner Waldorf Curriculum. It has multiple applications and impact on learning outcomes for your child.

    • Kindergarten children listen to stories told to them by their teacher, who has learnt the story word for word and repeats it each day for a week. The stories they tell engage the imagination of your child as they immerse themselves in the familiar images shared. Enthralled with the story (and feeling secure in its repetition), children learn to sit quietly and develop concentration.
    • Soon enough, more complicated stories can be told, introducing children to a richer diet of vocabulary and language (this also creates strong foundations for literacy). This is evidenced later, when children start to tell their own stories and write simple tales for themselves.
    • Storytelling is also used at the Greenwich Steiner School, to help address any behavioural issues as they sometimes arise in the early years and up until Class 2 or 3. Smaller children in particular are not always able to control their behaviour. Directly addressing this in them can often bring with it feelings of shame, as well as impacting on self-esteem. However, when these same messages are communicated in a story about an imaginary child or animal exhibiting the same behaviour, children can receive the stories and understand them without shame.
    • Stories can also work this same way if a child is worried about something, for example being estranged from a parent or dealing with the death of a relative.
    • As children progress throughout the school, storytelling naturally leads into History and English Literature and many other subjects, including Geography, Physics and Geometry, amongst others.

    When experienced from a young age, storytelling gives your child a love of language, building important foundations for literacy, as well as helping them to develop more sophisticated expressions in all aspects of their learning. This is something that they will carry with them into adulthood.

    Block teaching

    Block teaching

    What’s in a Main Lesson?

    Formal learning begins at Greenwich Steiner School in Class 1 when your child is 6 years old. This follows the norm in Scandinavian countries.

    Throughout the Lower School, children spend the first two hours of each day in Main Lesson. Organised in thematic blocks, this is taught by the Class Teacher and is an integral part of the internationally recognized Steiner Waldorf Curriculum.

    So why teach in thematic blocks?

    • There is lots of research to suggest that immersing oneself in a topic is a particularly effective way to engage with children. This allows for multi-modal learning – allowing a multitude of different ways (visual, kinaesthetic etc.) to teach different children.
    • Starting at the beginning of the day, when children are at their most alert, the Main Lesson offers a more intensive approach to academic and cognitive learning.
    • Teaching the same subject area in thematic blocks over a three or four-week period, means that children can fully immerse themselves in a subject, impacting on their ability to retain information later on.

    After Main Lesson is over, children have a short break, after which lessons are experienced in forty minute segments for the rest of the day, as is the norm in most other schools. These lessons are usually where skills are learnt or practised and predominantly include English, Maths, Modern Languages (French and German), Handwork, Games, Eurythmy, Art and Music.

    Anthroposophy

    Anthroposophy

    • Anthroposophy is a philosophy developed by the Austrian born Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925), which understands man to be a continuously evolving being. At the heart of Anthroposophy, lies a deep understanding of the nature of consciousness and its evolution through time.
    • Rudolf Steiner himself was a great pioneer, social reformer and accomplished architect. He gave many lectures on a vast array of subjects, in response to questions he was asked - most notably in the areas of medicine, plants and education. You may have heard of biodynamic agriculture as Prince Charles is a well-known firm favourite of the method, which uses manures and composts (instead of chemicals), in the preparation of soil to grow crops.
    • Steiner’s reflections were shared in the early 20th century, which seems like a long time ago from today’s world! However, many of his reflections on the various stages of child development were indeed timeless and serve as a foundation for the evolving pedagogy at Greenwich Steiner School.
    • We use Steiner’s insights particularly in the ages groups of 0-7 years, 7-14 years and 14-21 years. These indications offer a starting point for our own understanding and discussions around how we can best inspire all our pupils to truly flourish and live out their fullest, creative potential.
    • Whilst anthroposophy offers a philosophical basis for the pedagogical insights at Greenwich Steiner School, it is simply that, a starting point. Perhaps what is most inspiring was Steiner’s repeated suggestions himself that we must not take anything at face value, but to put his many insights and theories to the test in the classroom This is the way we can see how to practically best support the children in our care.
    • It is in this spirit of perpetual enquiry and learning that we work in our school. Anthroposophy itself, however, is not directly taught at our school. Should you be interested to find out more, please do visit www.anthroposophy.org.uk