Frequently Asked Questions

What if I have booked onto a session and now can’t make it?

Who was Rudolf Steiner?

How is Steiner Waldorf education applied in early years?

Is Steiner similar to Montessori?

What do you recommend my child wears when a session takes place outside?

Can I bring a sibling?

Why is your group only for children aged from walking – 4 years?

What’s my role during the sessions?

Does Little Acorns teach religion?

How is behaviour managed?

What part do festivals play?

What do we recommend about Screen Time?

How do we cater for children with special needs?

Why do we use organic products during our sessions?

What if I have booked onto a session and now can’t make it?

We require that each session is booked and paid for one week in advance. This is to ensure that we know who is coming and can plan each session. As Little Acorns is run by volunteers by paying before each session also means that we do not lose out on vital funds and can continue to cover costs.

If you are unable to make a session for whatever reason we ask that you telephone us as soon as possible (07533243823) to allow us time to notify those on the waiting list. If your place cannot be filled in time then unfortunately we are unable to provide a refund.

 
Who was Rudolf Steiner?

Rudolf Steiner (1861 – 1925) was an innovative academic born in Austria whose ideas founded the basis of Anthroposophy.

He applied his ideas to education as well as agriculture, medicine, architecture and social reform. Little Acorns acknowledges Rudolf Steiner as the founding inspiration of modern day Steiner schools and education, but does not seek to promote Anthroposophy.

 
How is Steiner Waldorf education applied in early years?

Steiner Waldorf early years setting share certain characteristics:

  • Loving interest in and acceptance of each child

  • Opportunities for self-initiated play with simple play materials as the essential activity for young children.

  • This is the young child’s work and makes it possible for them to digest and understand their experiences.

  • Awareness that young children learn through imitation, through the experience of diverse sensory impressions, and through movement. Their natural inclination is to actively explore their physical and social environment. The surroundings offer limits, structure and protection, as well as the possibility to take risks and meet challenges.

  • A focus on real rather that virtual experiences to support the child in forming a healthy relationship to the world.

  • Artistic activities such as storytelling, music, drawing and painting, rhythmic games, and modelling that foster the healthy development of imagination and creativity.

  • Meaningful practical work such as cooking, baking, gardening, handwork and domestic activity that provide opportunities to develop unfolding human capacities. Here the emphasis is on the process of life rather than on learning outcomes.

  • Predictable rhythms through the day, week and year that provide security and a sense of the interrelationships and wholeness of life. Seasonal and other festivals are celebrated according to the cultural and geographical surroundings.

 

The priority of the Steiner ethos is to provide an unhurried and creative learning environment where children can find the joy in learning and experience the richness of childhood rather than early academic study. The curriculum itself is a flexible set of pedagogical guidelines, founded on Steiner’s principles that take account of the whole child-head, heart and hands. It gives equal attention to the physical, emotional, intellectual, cultural and spiritual needs of each pupil and is designed to work in harmony with the different phases of the child’s development. The core subjects of the curriculum are taught in thematic blocks and all lessons include a balance of artistic, practical and intellectual content. Whole class, mixed ability teaching is the norm.

Steiner education has proved itself adaptable. More than 80 years after the first Steiner school was started in central Europe, this education continues to inspire people from all walks of life and in all parts of the world. Steiner schools have a reputation for producing well-rounded and balanced human beings who are able to cope with the demands of a fast-changing and uncertain world. Steiner graduates are highly sought-after in further education and work place for their unjaded interest in the world and their resourcefulness.

 
Is Steiner similar to Montessori?

These two educational approaches began with a similar goal: to design a curriculum that was developmentally appropriate to the child and that addressed the child's need to learn in a tactile as well as an intellectual way. The philosophies are otherwise very different.

 
What do you recommend my child wears when a session takes place outside?

Winter days

  • Footwear: For winter weather we recommend neoprene, or fleece lined wellies; footwear that is warm and waterproof.

  • Thermal base layer

  • On body: at least 2 more layers, last one a warm fleece or wool jumper

  • On legs: cosy trousers, or 2 layers of lighter trousers.

  • Final layer: waterproof dungaree or trousers and a waterproof coat. Dungarees are good for keeping children ‘together’, no cold tummy, but have a disadvantage for some children when it comes to toileting. Waterproof trousers offer greater ease for toileting and nappy changes but please ensure they have an effective elasticated waist.

 

Warmer days

At the beginning of the spring days the weather can be swiftly changeable so better to be over dressed and able to peel layers off. Once we start seriously taking the layers off trousers are still preferable to shorts due to nettles and ‘jaggy’ things – brambles and thistles! Shoes rather than sandals are more appropriate.

Come the summer we’d still like children to carry waterproofs in their rucksacks as it may be a beautiful day but the rain can surprise us and in the woods the ground may still be wet and muddy. Some children can be really put off by damp legs and bottoms!

For the sunny sun please remember sunhats and sun cream.

 
Can I bring a sibling?

Yes. Siblings are welcome. It costs £3 for each additional child. As we only take a maximum of 10 children at each Parent & Toddler Group please let us know beforehand how many children you will be bringing to the session.

Can I bring the whole family along?

The room that is used for our Parent & Child Groups have limited space and we aim to provide enough organic produce for a set number of people at each session. As such we ask that if you are bringing more than one adult with you (in addition to your children) you let us know in advance.

 
Why is your group only for children aged from walking – 4 years?

Each of our Parent & Child groups have a maximum of 10 children to ensure the flow and rhythm of the session is maintained and help the children gain as much from the sessions as possible. We design our group activities for children from around walking age to 4 years old. Siblings are welcome to attend our sessions with prior notification.

Whilst we appreciate that all children are unique and develop at different stages you may feel that your child will benefit from our Group despite being pre-walking or over 4 years old. If this is the case please do get in touch.

 
What’s my role during the sessions?

As with the Waldorf Steiner philosophy Little Acorn’s encourages a ‘Watch Without Watching’ approach. Parents and children are together in one room during our Parent & Child group sessions, so we are there if the children need us. From time to time they will come to us, of course, but, ideally, they should be able to forget about us as much of the time. Is we are focussed on painting, baking or sewing, the children will feel that we are settled and relaxed and they too will relax and play more freely. If, on the other hand, we sit and watch them, chat to them and intervene in their rhythm of play, they will not be able to immerse themselves and can become frustrated and distracted. It’s a wonderful realisation that the best thing we can do for our children is leave them to play using their imagination and wonder of discovery all by themselves!

The Group Leaders will ensure that the sessions follow a calm structure from free-play to baking to puppetry and storytelling, circle time to outdoor play. We very much let children be children and understand that not all children want to do the same things at the same time. For this reason the children are free to join in and out of the flow and rhythm of the session. Children learn from their parent’s enthusiasm, involvement and will inevitably look to imitate this, learning life-long skills as they go. Through patience, rhythm and repetition we often see that a reluctant child becomes enthusiastic and eager for all that Little Acorns has to offer.

 
Does Little Acorns teach religion?

Little Acorns does not conform to any particular religion. We aim to cultivate a moral mood towards the world and our fellow human beings, a sense of wonder, respect and reverence is central. Story material from many sources, including a broad range of folk and religious traditions, together with the biographies of inspiring individuals is used. We welcome children and families from a broad spectrum of religious traditions and interest.

How is behaviour managed?

At Little Acorns we believe that children learn best when they feel secure and when they know what to expect. A warm, well structured environment gives them essential support in finding out about the world and themselves in an age-appropriate fashion.

Our Group Leaders are very experienced at working with young children and are all parents of young children themselves. The Group Leaders respond to the child’s individual needs in a sensitive, age-appropriate manner with a sense of calmness and love. Parents are encouraged to support and supervise their children in a similar fashion during the sessions.

Little Acorns has a Behavioural Management Policy which states clearly our approach which is neither rigid in the traditional sense nor free in the progressive sense.

 

What part do festivals play?

Festivals, both seasonal and those adapted from culture, play an important part in the life of the child. These festivals serve to awake the child’s natural reverence, recognition of the mood that is appropriate for such occasions and a respect for the spiritual essence that exists in us all. Festivals also provide an opportunity for participation and celebration for the whole Little Acorns community. A list of our celebrated festivals can be found in our policies section.

 

What do we recommend about Screen Time?

Computers and screen time is not used during our Parent and Child Groups due to the disruption it can cause to the Children’s flow of play and activities. We ask that Parent’s also treat the sessions as a ‘no screen zone’. On occasions we will take photos and we will always ask Parents for their consent.

For information on Waldorf Steiner’s approach to technology generally see http://www.steinerwaldorf.org/steiner-education/frequently-asked-questions/

Further Reading:

Further reading
As nurseries and schools nationwide rush to supply their classrooms with computers, ipads and wii as learning aids for children from as young as just 1 years old, the contrarian point of view can be found at the epicenter of the tech economy.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/23/technology/at-waldorf-school-in-silicon-valley-technology-can-wait.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all

http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-hiltzik-20120205,0,639053.column

 

How do we cater for children with special needs?

Little Acorns believes that all children can benefit from our Steiner Waldorf inspired approach. We take a holistic approach and aim to support children in a variety of ways, to respond to their social, emotional, behavioural and physical as well as educational needs. Everyone is equally valued and respected. We try to meet each child’s individual needs in a way that is appropriate to the child’s age, stage of development and personal circumstances. We seek to identify those needs on an ongoing basis through our procedures, and to put in place support to meet those needs wherever reasonably possible.

Our Parent & Toddler premises have disabled access.

If you are unsure whether our Play Groups are right for your child and would like to discuss this further please get in touch.


 

Why do we use organic products during our sessions?

One of Little Acorn’s Core Principles is to be environmentally and ethically conscious in all that we do. Helping us achieve this, wherever possible we only use organic, local and seasonal produce during all our Parent and Child session. We strive to be a hub for an ethical and healthy food culture in the local community.

Another of our Core Principles is to encourage children to experience and respect the wonders of the natural world around them. By buying and supporting organic Little Acorns is working with nature, not against it. It means higher levels of animal welfare, lower levels of pesticides, no manufactured herbicides or artificial fertilisers and more environmentally sustainable management of the land and natural environment-this means more wildlife and more natural wonders of the world for our children!

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