A Milestone Year for Kufunda Village School
2017 saw a big milestone as we set out to build our own school at Kufunda, after several years of being in collaboration with a school in Harare town. Out of this came a deeper sense of ownership and collaboration between Kufunda Village and the school. During the holiday between first and second term, a lot of effort was put into preparing the different classrooms for Kindergarten, Grade Zeros and the Primary School. The new space for the Primary School is in an ecologically built rammed earth building in the heart of Kufunda Learning Village. To support their move, the children planted a garden to mark the entryway into the village and to their school. This was held by Benjamin Tree, a Waldorf teacher from the UK, who joined for the first term. The second term was the first time for our school to be fully on our own. It was busy and in many ways demanding great effort. It was also very rewarding. During Community Work on Wednesdays, the children and the Kufunda village members worked together to paint and beautify the classrooms. An outdoor classroom was created and the garden received a lot of care and attention. During this term the class ones and twos learned about the seasons and the elements. They also listened to traditional Shona fables and stories. The class threes heard the stories from the Old Testament and used it for learning grammar. They ended the term very practically by making their own clay pots and weaving. They learned it from Sikhethiwe, one of the parents and a member of the learning village. The fives travelled back into time and listened to stories from Ancient Civilizations (Egypt, India and Persia). They also dove into the world of maths, learning a lot about fractions and decimals. In the Kindergarten there were the daily free play, games, circle time with songs and rhymes and story time. Also painting, modeling, drawing and knitting was done on a weekly basis. The children enjoyed having the new climbing frame, the many naturally balancing rocks, the sandpit and the swings so close to their classroom. It helped them to engage with their natural environment during free play and break time. A German organic farmer, Ralph, who was primarily in Kufunda to help the farming and herb team, luckily also found time to spend with the children. How amazing it was to create an insect hotel and learn about the very busy lives of these little creatures! Second term was closed very beautifully with the Winter Festival, being held between beautiful big rocks.
Teaching Teachers and Parents during the Holidays The holiday between second and third term, we were visited by Johannah Birth, a German Kindergarden teacher who has come for several years to offer a Kindergarden Teachers Workshop to spread the Waldorf movement in Zimbabwe. She was accompanied and assisted by her daughter Ariadne Birth who formed an organisation in Germany for the Kufunda Village and graduated from a Waldorf School. This time, in addition to the kindergarten teachers workshop which brought together 24 kindergarten teachers, Johannah also offered a weekend workshop for the parents of the children at our primary school and a workshop for the school’s teachers. The parent’s workshop was one of great success. Using pictures of Main Lesson Books, Johannah invited the parents to follow the child’s developmental process and how the Waldorf education answers that. They also engaged very practically by drawing themselves and crocheting their own net for holding balls. After this experience of big clumsy hands and a lot of laughter, parents were truly admiring the abilities of their children!
The teacher’s workshop was one of big learnings. Not only teachers from our school, but also teachers from Government schools were present and journeyed through the Waldorf Curriculum. For our teachers it was a both a deepening of the Waldorf education as a moment to very practically plan for the next term. Even a high-level own curriculum was created.
A strong Completion
The third term we were joined by Dorothee Nys, a Waldorf graduate from Belgium. She went to a Waldorf School from Kindergarten and being surrounded by this from her earliest years, the Waldorf impulse is very much alive in all her being and doing. She was mainly teaching the threes (while the school was searching for a full time teacher) and also conducted music, movement and painting for the other classes. She also offered some creative sessions to parents and Kufundees. Spreading and deepening the Waldorf education, sometimes in very practical little things was a big gift.
There was more time and energy left for the deeper understanding and on-going learning journey about Waldorf Education. In our weekly meetings on Wednesday we studied the philosophy and practice of Waldorf education to further deepen our capacity as a school. We continued building a bridge between the Kufunda Village and the school. We deepened the understanding that a school community does not only consist of teachers and children, but that parents involvement is also a key for a strong school community. Our process of involving parents through creative sessions, dance and community work was one of conscious growing.
One of the highlights for the children this term included the class threes doing their house building main-lesson, building a shelter in the forest, and a teepee outside the classroom. We closed our term beautifully and powerfully with a festival of celebration. We celebrated listening to the voice and achievements of Kufunda Village and School. The whole festival was to celebrate the growth of the school during 2017. Teachers and parents shared their gratitude of what the school is becoming. Each class made their presentations, each one strong and beautiful in their own way. We closed all together with something creative and interactive that even had a purpose! Only paint, a canvas and peoples’ hands were needed - let the fun begin! A beautiful art of piece that will make a temporary wall next year in the classroom, to divide the one big space into two smaller ones. We closed the festival day, sharing a wonderful meal.
And so 2017 came to an end, faster than we could have imagined. It seems only yesterday since the school began operating fully on its own. Everyone agrees that this was an important and necessary step in order to grow a strong Waldorf foundation from which to grow. It has been a year of big steps and small steps, of big insights and little yet important learnings. A year of choosing to build a strong foundation, of deepening before growing and expanding. A year of leaving and of meeting, connecting. A year of returning to the roots. A year of celebration!