Our philosophy at Stepping Stones Children’s Garden is inspired by Waldorf Education, as well as the Non-Violent Communication (NVC) model. The classroom is seen as a community in itself. Each child is embraced as an integral part of our community, contributing their personal strengths, as well as their diverse learning and cultural backgrounds, while they learn how to be respectful, harmonious members of a group environment. Learning is enhanced by the varied ages of children served (2 to 5 year-olds) in the classroom. A strong sense of autonomy, productivity, and pride is achieved as they support each other throughout the day. The Waldorf philosophy provides inspiration to nurture the child’s active imagination while the NVC model helps them to learn how to express themselves in a positive and productive manner.
We are pleased to integrate the magic of the turning seasons in many aspects of our curriculum using our inspiration derived from the Waldorf philosophy. Seasonal songs and verses are recited at Circle Time, along with our calendar, the weather, and a gentle phonetic awareness portion with our letter of the week.
In our classrooms we offer natural wooden toys that include driftwood, smooth river stones, and tree stump blocks. Cloth dolls, brightly colored play cloths, blankets, wooden doll beds, and wooden kitchen sets to provide children with hours of imaginative play!
Our organic garden plays a wonderful role in the curriculum in the classrooms. The children assist in all aspects of gardening from planting and weeding, to watering and harvesting! This participation fosters an awareness and appreciation for nature as well as the importance of nutrition and healthy food choices.
The classrooms are prepared to be as home like as possible. The space that the children are embraced in is joyful, calm, and inviting. Here they are treated with respect. Teachers share the tools of Non-Violent Communication with the children to promote success as they navigate through their interactions with their peers and the adults who are present in the classroom. Teachers serve as models for appropriate behavior for the children.
Academics are promoted and encouraged, but only secondary to the more intrinsically significant skills of social competency, empathy, divergent thinking, self-efficacy, and autonomy. At Stepping Stones, we believe that every person is innately strong, and that perceived “challenges” are really beautiful opportunities for new talents and practices to sprout forth.
Here, we are firm in our beliefs about the utmost importance of play in early childhood education. Free, child-directed play can allow children to engage all developmental domains (social/emotional, physical, cognitive, and linguistic); what’s more, in some cases playing children will engage all of these dimensions simultaneously. Through play, children come to know about the world. They wonder, they hypothesize, they experiment-they take full advantage of their brains’ abilities to freely diverge among the most creative modalities of thought. It is our vision to provide children with a joyful space in which to play freely, curiously, and productively.
Our vision at Stepping Stones Children’s Garden is to embrace and cultivate the strengths of our students, and also those of our school community members. Our vision holds at its core the principle of whole-human development, in which the human is seen as a convergence of a mind, body, and spirit, each requiring cultivation. Especially with young children, our primary emphasis lies in the nurturing of young minds to create free, self-directed, morally responsible, socially integrated individuals. We aim to foster a lifelong love of learning in our students. Our goal is to help children gain the necessary developmental tools to pursue their curiosities, and to be life long learners.
As a school community, we aim to create an atmosphere that is welcoming and supportive to all children and families. We strive to present ourselves as allies and resources, and to offer ample opportunities for connection and growth between the home and school environments. The diverse contexts of our school community, within our walls and without, are acknowledged, valued, and supported to the best of our abilities. Through our curriculum and community connections, we aim to instill a deep reverence for life, as well as a sense of stewardship of our planet Earth. These principles are essential to the development of the morally strong whole human, as well as our core values of kindness, compassion, empathy, gratitude, inclusiveness, integrity, self-care, creativity, cognitive flexibility, courage, and confidence.
Our preschool has two functioning classrooms, the Blossom’s and the Sprout’s.
The Blossom’s classroom is for children of ages ranging from 2 to 5 years old, and operates from 7:30am-5:30pm.
The Sprout’s classroom also serves children of ages ranging from 2 to 5 years old where our morning program operates from 8:00am-1:00pm. Our School Age Extended Day Program is housed in the Sprouts classroom which offers a morning session from 7:30am-8:30am and an afternoon session which extends from 1:15pm-5:30pm on Mondays and 3:00pm-5:30pm Tuesday-Friday.
Both classrooms function under shared philosophical understandings and obligations. We work hard to create inter-classroom unity through close teamwork and clear communication.
The Rhythm of the Day provides a balance of free play as well as structured periods. The feel of the rhythm has a breath-like quality as the day shifts between focused group or individual activities (breathing in) and free form activities (breathing out). This allows children to express their imaginations and impulses in a safe, predictable environment which also allows for flexibility when needed. Children are best served in an environment that is consistent, loving, and productive.
Rhythm of the Day
7:30am-9:30am Arrival/ Free Play/ Outside Play
9:30-10:00am Clean-Up, Circle Time
10:00am-10:30am Outside Play
10:30am-11:15am Wash Hands/ Snack Time
11:15am-12:00pm Art/ Baking/ Crafts/ Free-Play
12:00pm-12:30pm Outside Play
12:30pm-12:45pm Story Time/Wash Hands
12:45pm-1:00pm Lunch/Departure for some
1:00pm-1:30pm Lunch continued/Prepare for rest
2:30pm-3:15pm Outside Play
3:15pm-3:45pm Circle Time
3:45pm-4:15pm Wash Hands/ Snack
4:15pm-4:45pm Art/Baking/ Crafts/ Free Play
4:45pm-5:15pm Outside Play
5:15pm-5:30pm Story Time/Prepare for Departure
8:00am-9:30am Arrival/ Free Play/ Outside Play
9:30am-10:00am Clean-Up/ Circle Time
10:00am-10:45am Art/ Baking/ Crafts/ Free Play
10:45am-11:15am Wash Hands/ Snack
11:15am-12:00pm Outside Play
12:00pm-12:15pm Story Time
12:15pm-12:45pm Free Play/Wash Hands
12:45pm-1:00pm Lunch/ Prepare for Departure
* The Rhythm of the Day may be subject to change
Our program offers full days (7:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.) or morning half days (8 a.m. – 1 p.m.) schedules for 2 days a week, 3 days a week or 5 days a week.
Both classrooms require a $50 application fee in order to reserve a space. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at (707)825-7447 for tuition prices.
Before enrollment can begin, an appointment may be made for the child and their family to visit our preschool to determine whether our program is a good fit. Please call us to make an appointment. We look forward to hearing from you!