Some friends moved to the area near the school, in order to try and get a place for their eldest who was approaching kindergarten age (three). Some months later, we were staying with them, and accompanied them to collect from kindy. On collecting their little one we were enchanted to see the children’s bread ovens in the kindergarten gardens and the trees there, purposefully planted for climbing.
As I work with children & families I was especially interested to know more about the learning environment. It can be disruptive to the environment if parents come in to help out in the classrooms. This is not because they discourage a presence from parents, but because they are applying a tried and tested method.
(Please note I am still learning and am by no means an expert on the system or the school, so I aim to ensure the information is as accurate as possible). The first stage of child development from 0-7 years is a protected time. The sense of awe and wonder is nurtured by limiting the stimulation the children are exposed to. Most learning is play based until Class 1 aged 6 when formal learning begins. Parents are invited to sign a parents agreement which gives guidelines about their recommendations. More about this later.
We had a walk around the grounds and were immediately taken with the huge spaces, the views, natural materials used in the buildings, and how green it all was. We loved the outdoor classrooms, octagonal wooden structures in the open air, stocked with traditional woodwork equipment and curly wood shavings covering the floor. My favourite building sits at the bottom of one of the two school fields, in a corner accessed by a wooden bridge over a large pond with tall proud reeds. I also remember on that first sight of the school, a beautiful traditional gypsy caravan on site, and the way the old listed barn had been respectfully renovated and complemented by the new structures surrounding it.
Reading around the subject began shortly after. We looked at properties to rent in the area online after we returned home, just out of interest. We talked about what the change would mean for our child. She attended the pre-school nursery in the primary school next to our home for five mornings a week from the age of three for one year. Despite a lengthy appeal, we then we had to move her to a small C of E Primary village school seven miles away, due to issues with catchment boundaries resulting from living in a new house in a new estate.
The way I describe our feelings at the time of moving towards Steiner education, are that it was not a rejection of what we were providing for our child (her lovely village primary school) at that time, but a strong feeling of being drawn to this alternative style of education. Initially our interest in the school felt as though it was a pipe dream, I was recovering from a long period of ill health and we wanted to minimise any further change for our daughter. But by November I was back at work and we were visiting every few months. We looked at two properties in the area one beautiful Spring morning in 2013.
One was a beautifully renovated detached workers cottage on top of a hill with views to die for, which was 3 miles from the school. However it could have been quite isolating in the winter as it was at the end of long narrow winding lane. We also knew that if the house was closer to the school there was more chance that our daughter may eventually get a place.
The other property was a three bed ex council semi-detached house on a quiet cul de sac 0.2 miles from the school. It backed onto beautiful fields and although it needed a good deal of ‘elbow grease’ and lots of fresh paint we put in an application immediately. There were two other interested parties, waiting for the result was so nerve wracking. We felt especially strong about this property as there were other families with children in the street which we knew our daughter would love.
I remember I was walking round Draycote Water on my own when I received the call to tell me that we had been the successful applicants. From that moment on everything moved so quickly…………