...my lantern is going with me...

Lanterns 1024x1024Last night Kindergarten and Classes 1, 2, 3 and 4 celebrated Martinmas with warm soup and bread, followed by stories which told of nurturing the inner light, of generosity and kindness. Nourished in so many ways we then set off on a walk into the dark evening, each child carrying the lantern they had made in preparation. This festival calls on us to remember the light within our own lives that we can share to light the way for others. Our glowing lights warmed the November evening and all was peaceful. 

Read more: I Go With My Little Lantern...

Two new things came to live with us recently. I don't know whether to call them hooligans, tolerance-testers, or weapons of mass destruction.

Officially, they are known as kittens. Tommy is lithe and grey. Dollop (not my fault – my son insisted) is a big, well, dollop, of white fluff. These creatures steal bread from the toaster and scamper away, growling, with it in their mouths. They torture frogs. They munch the legs off daddy-long-legs. They carry terrifying spiders OUT of the bath and release them for games all over the carpet. But Dollop and Tommy are adored by us all.

Read more: Kittens, Nature Tables, The World...

CIMG9952 2Earlier this week Class 7/8 joined Class 1 for their Handwork lesson. Having made their knitting needles, Class 1 now spent some time with our oldest class learning how to cast on and knit.

 

Having learnt to knit when they were in Class 1, and currently knitting gloves themselves in Handwork, the Class 7/8 children were now taking their skills to a deeper level by teaching someone else. They were very absorbed in teaching their young partners.

The younger children always love being taught by the big children. There is something very special about the relationship between children at our school - as a small school the opportunities for the children to play and learn together are many.

Ursula Waechter, Handwork Teacher        

                                  

 

A bell is ringing under my pillow. Five minutes pass as I realise I need to do something. Another five minutes pass as I realise that it is an alarm, my alarm, that I have set the night before to make me get up. This means I have to get up. To say I am bad at getting up is an understatement.

I stumble into Anna's bedroom to open her curtains. Gradually, I regain enough consciousness to be able to say: "It's time to go to school." Anna has inherited my inability to make a smooth transition from sleep to wakefulness. Or so I thought. But now she has joined Class 1 at Alder Bridge School. Before I know what day it is, she is up, dressed, shod, fed, ready and waiting, lunch box in hand, by the front door. This is astonishing. If we are late, it is because of her brothers. One can never find his homework; the other always runs out of clothes (at precisely 8.24 am.)

Read more: Mornings Are Not My Best Time Of Day

You may be aware of the current debate in the national press about school starting age.

An open letter has been sent to the Ministry of Education from a large group of almost 130 leading educators and Early Years experts who are strongly urging the government to review their school starting age policy. See more here

Children at Alder Bridge School begin school after their 6th birthday, having enjoyed their early years in a kindergarten where the formative skills - social, emotional and physical, as well as cognitive - are developed. Active, creative, imaginative, child initiated play is a priority in the early years, where children can experience the richness of childhood rather than academic hot-housing. And it pays enormous dividends later on, as the letter states: "Very few countries have a school starting age as young as four, as we do in England. Children who enter school at six or seven after several years of high-quality nursery education consistently achieve better educational results as well as higher levels of well-being." Children who leave Alder Bridge School at 13 or 14 years old fit into non-Steiner schools with ease. They have balance, flexibility and initiative. 

Polls in the national press clearly demonstrate that parents do not want to send their children to school at 4 or 5, but would prefer to wait until they are truly ready. However, for parents in the Thames Valley it can be difficult to juggle work and childcare, and school at an early age can seem to provide the solution. This year, in recognition of this challenge, Alder Bridge School has extended its provision, to enable children aged 3 – 6 to attend kindergarten full time and enjoy a natural childhood. Afternoons in Class 1 (6 years old) are optional to begin with, but a full programme of sessions are available for those who want or need to stay at school until 3.30pm; including activities such as gardening, adventures in the woodland, arts and crafts activities, stories and play.

Come to our Open Day on Saturday 5th October, and share our vision of childhood. 

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