The importance of the foundation years

Children learn (often by doing) at Little Yarra Steiner School. Pictures: Larry Lawson

When we think of the word foundation, it is usually in the sense of a strong base, which is then built upon.

It is a starting point, underpinning all that comes afterwards.

The foundational years of childhood, up to seven years old, are a very important time in the development of well-rounded individuals.

Little Yarra Steiner School (LYSS) takes a broad and holistic approach where, in the foundation years, educators work towards developing certain qualities and capacities in children.

These are qualities like compassion, wonder, perseverance and resilience, rather than pushing them too early into conceptual adult type thinking.

Much modern research and the example of the Scandinavian schooling approach has proven this to be the best model for this age group.

Foundations at LYSS are built slowly and developed through a broad range of experiences. Children learn (often by doing) in a very structured program, which includes imaginative playtime outside and inside – activities such as cooking, knitting, drawing, painting, building and singing.

Through singing songs and listening to imaginative stories from a teacher they know, children have the opportunity to focus on the language used, while creating the pictures of the story in their mind’s eye.

My own young son would come home retelling stories with great amounts of detail, as they had become so much a part of him. His imagination was alive with a rich and descriptive vocabulary well before he could read them as words on a page. So when it came time to actively learn writing and reading, he was able to understand and use a wide variety of words within a relatively short space of time.

By creating the space and time to allow children to flourish as they would naturally, children are given a strong sense about themselves, the people around them (both the adults in their lives and their own peers) and their environment.

We invite you to come to learn more about the foundation years at the Little Yarra Steiner School at our Preschool Information Session and school tours held during our Open Day and Spring Fair on 19 October. We look forward to seeing you there.

–  Josie McLachlan, registrar, kindergarten coordinator and mum