Our Unique Curriculum: Waldorf-inspired, Nature-based and Standards-aligned
Waldorf education aims to inspire lifelong learning in all students and to enable them to fully develop their unique capacity. It is the fastest-growing independent school movement in the world with over 120 schools in the US and 1,000 worldwide. In the United States, access to Waldorf education has traditionally been available through independent schooling. During the last decade, however, a large and growing number of public Waldorf schools (also known as Waldorf-inspired schools) have come into being, largely through the charter school movement. Between 2000 and 2018, for example, the number of Waldorf-inspired public schools expanded from 12 to 53. This vigorous growth has created a widening interest in Waldorf methods and their potential to serve a diverse population.
Cairn Hill offers Waldorf-inspired programming. Integrated into our programs are characteristics of a Waldorf classroom: family engagement, an unhurried pace with time to engage in free play, a balance between teacher-directed and child-initiated activities, self-esteem and community-building tasks, a nurturing environment that does not overstimulate, and arts such as storytelling and songs. Such a learning environment powerfully supports the development of children's social and emotional skills.
Cairn Hill is a member of the Alliance for Public Waldorf Education, an organization that promotes and supports the development of high quality Waldorf schools/programs in the public sector. To learn more about Waldorf Education, visit here: www.allianceforpublicwaldorfeducation.org
Children in our programs spend significant time outdoors. Research has demonstrated that active outdoor time fosters autonomy, helps to develop key learning skills related to executive function, and can be therapeutic in addressing attention deficit disorders. Being outdoors provides a wonderful context for inquiry-based and STEM learning. Our gardening programs involve children actively int eh grow, harvesting, and preparation of nutritious means, and they support the development of lifelong healthy eating habits.
Nature-based education is promoted by the Natural Start Alliance and the Children and Nature Network, which support young children’s connection to nature and environmental awareness. For more information, visit naturalstart.org and childrenandnature.org.
In designing curricula for all of our programs, Cairn Hill begins with the relevant Massachusetts learning standards and teaches them innovative techniques that are embodied, creative and engaging. At Cairn Hill Nature Preschool, children receive a comprehensive foundation for school success, with explicit instruction in literacy, math and science. Our developmentally appropriate curriculum features:
rich oral language exposure through storytelling, puppetry, and music which supports the development of listening and comprehension skills
integrated pre-literacy activities that promote children's understanding of rhyme, alliteration, syllable structure, letter recognition and print awareness
the development of fine motor skills critical for kindergarten writing tasks through painting, clay modeling and crafts
hands-on activities that promote children's ability to count, measure, identify shapes, add and subtract
the introduction of scientific concepts: plants, animals, ecosystems, weather
the integration of high quality sensory experiences into the students’ experience
The children who attend Cairn Hill Nature Preschool will arrive in kindergarten with solid academics, minds free to inquire and learn, bodies strong and able to work, hands ready to create, and hearts open to others and to the wonders of nature. These balanced children will be well prepared for kindergarten — and life!