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Cairns Hinterland Steiner School


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We aim to be true to the spirit and intentions of the educational impulses and insights offered by Rudolf Steiner. We aim to support each child as they strive to reach their full potential. We encourage each child’s unique gifts and potential to unfold in a creative, nurturing, peaceful and respectful environment. We strive to develop equally the faculties of thinking, feeling, and willing – head, heart, and hands – within each child, so strong foundations are laid for initiative and moral strength in adult life.
We aim to create a place where goodness, beauty, and truth permeate the pedagogical, physical, and social fabrics. We intend to be aware of and responsive to the unique learning opportunities provided by our local natural environment. We are continually striving to provide and develop a curriculum and learning program inspired by a deep understanding of human development.
A curriculum that embraces and reflects the universal values of freedom, equality, peace, and democracy, and that values diversity and individual worth. A curriculum that enables children to develop into productive and moral adults, who are, in and of themselves, able to impart meaning to their lives. We view ourselves as a community of learners – teachers, parents, and students – striving to achieve individual, communal and global growth and understanding.
Early childhood at Cairns Hinterland Steiner School commences with a structured playgroup for 2 & 3 years old’s from Monday to Friday. The kindergarten for four-year-olds operates three days a week, and the kindergarten for five years old’s operates four days a week. Our prep program operates five days a week.
In the kindergarten and prep years, we seek to foster an environment that is more like a home than a classroom. A warm, secure, and calm atmosphere is created surrounded by beauty; the young child’s imagination and creativity can unfurl within their play and work. Every feature of the kinder and prep, from colors to the play equipment offered, has been chosen carefully to provide the optimum environment for the young child to unfold. The children are not introduced to an academic program. They are allowed to be children. A great deal of what they need to learn at this age can be achieved through their own rich and rewarding world of self-directed play. The teacher maintains an unobtrusive, but loving and watchful presence.
The children are free to join the teachers in a range of wholesome, home-based activities, crafts, and artistic pursuits. They may be involved in baking bread for morning tea, working in the garden to grow veggies that we can make into soup for lunch, growing flowers for flower garlands or fairy rings, sweeping and mopping, washing dolls clothes and hanging them out to dry, building cubbies, weaving or sewing, painting, drawing, clay work, woodwork, singing, and ring-dancing.
Each day the children and the teachers come together for circle time, sing songs, recite verses and poems, and participate in ring dances and fingerplays. Later in the day, they all meet again for storytime, where they are exposed to traditional folk and fairy tales and simple nature stories. The teacher provides the children with rich and beautiful oral language experiences, which provide an excellent foundation for the language work that comes later in their educational journey. Similarly, we are building foundations for the other areas of learning: developing body geography through guided movement, which helps with reading, developing the foundations for math work through rhythmical and counting activities, daily exposure to the world of nature and a focus on seasonal elements lays the foundations for science work, etc.
The children enter Class One in the year they turn seven. All academic work is taught artistically and holistically. In Class One, for example, the children learn the alphabet through the images that arise from traditional fairytales. The story is told, the images are drawn out of the story, and the children discover in the images the letters of the alphabet. For example, a mountain will unfold into the letter M, or through the image of a valley, they discover the letter V. They paint the letters or draw them, model, or sew them. In Class Five, the children experience through drama, what it was like to be a citizen of Athens debating in the forum. Academic learning is productive and never dry or abstract; instead, it is a living, evolving, creative process.
The children are also given a grounding in practical skills. They are involved in gardening and cooking, furniture making and building, farming, looking after animals, and maintaining the school grounds. In craft lessons, they make things they need to use in their daily school life, like recorder bags, book bags, and pencil cases. We undertake these activities to produce well-rounded, capable, and practical adults.
During Class Eight, students undertake a year-long ‘Project’ and present their findings to their peers. Aimed at expanding their horizons, students must work with a mentor to develop a new skill. Students get to choose their topic with past years’ projects have included building a boat, writing and publishing a novel, building a harp, restoring an old car.
He Cairns Hinterland Steiner School Big Picture program for Class 9 & 10 will focus on excursions to explore different interest-areas in the world connecting community, projects, and curriculum and working through a dynamic Personal Learning Plan with each student.
Students will learn how to develop learning goals and projects that meet essential requirements, link their learning across curriculum areas, and work together to impact their community positively. As students learn more about their areas of interest, they will connect with experts in the community to see where they may take them in the world. Throughout this process, students develop ‘real-life’ skills such as planning, time-management, speaking-confidence, reporting, and reflection. Perhaps most importantly, students will be able to take these experiences into their future lives and feel confident to ‘learn from life.’
There are four main areas of learning and assessment – the Individual Project/s, the Community Project/s, the Curriculum Learning Tasks, and Learning Through Internship. These are managed by the teacher and student, in collaboration with parents. As the year progresses, students develop mentoring relationships through their internship opportunities, and these mentors may also contribute to the overall learning program, or an individual student’s Personal Learning Plan.

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