The journey to the Four Seasons Kindergarten began in 1990 when April Smith began to run playgroup sessions, based on the principles of Rudolf Steiner education, in her home. It was called ‘Springwood Playgroup’. April continued to run 3 sessions a week for up to 8 children for several years. In 1994 it became a community run playgroup, run by parents, and the name changed to ‘Lifeways Playgroup’ and continued up until 2003 then going into recess.
Some years later, Fenella Tinworth, having been nurtured herself through Waldolf education right up until her tertiary studies, decided that she too wanted a Waldolf approach to educating her children. The Four Seasons Playgroup was reformed and it was here that a group of mothers decided that a Rudolf Steiner kindergarten would be established in Taupo.
Fenella, a qualified primary school teacher, expanded her knowledge and embarked on studying to become a registered ECE teacher, along with her Diploma in Rudolf Steiner Early Childhood.
A trust was formed in the hope that the kindergarten would become a reality by January 2011, in time for the new school year. Alas it proved difficult fundraising, so a group of families invested themselves to ensure the doors would open in time. Driven by a group of four mothers, and their husbands who were handy building fences and a sandpit, the kindergarten opened as planned in January 2011 with a full roll.
Having now operated for over 5 years, the kindergarten is going from strength to strength. We have a healthy waiting list of families who would love to have their children nurtured in our kindergarten.
We purchased the home in which our kindergarten operates in December 2015. This really solidified our commitment to having a Rudolf Steiner kindergarten for the children in Taupo. With our lease coming to an end with the owner of the property in February 2016 we looked far and wide to find the perfect space to move our kindergarten to.
After a visit from a well respected professional in the Early Childhood Education sector, Pennie Brownlee, who had the following to say about our kindergarten, we knew our search could end and that the home in which we founded the kindergarten in 5 years prior, was the perfect place to deepen our roots.
"Last week I was fortunate enough to be invited to a Steiner Kindergarten and learn about their ways of making 'a home away from home'. It LOOKED like a home, the walls were not plastered with information (none of us do that throughout our homes). It FELT like a home, there was a lounge area, a dining room area, a bedroom area (transformed with the use of 'camping sacks' of individual bedding material). It SMELT like a home - delicious baking smells still lingering. AND there was 'secret garden' compete with two fluffy bantam hens, vegetable gardens, flowers, vines, trees, shrubs - and all in a small area.
Would that we were able to recognize when our places are 'replica schools', and how very inappropriate they are for babies and children under school age. Only then will we go and learn from others who are further down the track in creating environments suited for small children. My experience has been that those who have exemplary centres are only too pleased to share with others. This isn't about egos, this is about our children's wellbeing."
We invite anyone who would like to explore our special place for their own interest, with a view to enroll their child or to learn more about the philosophy, to give us a call and make a time to come and visit.
Long term our vision is to nurture and grow the Steiner community in Taupo so that a child can be educated right through to completing their Secondary Education level.