The First Three Years: Classes for Parents and Young Children
Parent-child classes at the Washington Waldorf School offer a gentle introduction to the group setting and a welcoming home-like space for parents and children. Here, children can explore and experience a rhythm and a calm atmosphere that supports play, healthy self-initiated movement, and imitation. Themes related to child development, Waldorf education, and parenting the young child are explored through readings and facilitated discussions. Experienced Waldorf early childhood educators, who care deeply about supporting each parent/guardian and child on their own individual path, lead our classes. We meet weekly either at a beautiful outdoor spot or inside our Garden House, a yurt, which is nestled in our Children’s Garden play yard.
We offer classes in 10 or 12 week blocks in fall and spring, for three age groups: parents and infants 6 weeks to 9 months; parents and toddlers, 10 months to 2 year, 3 months; and parents and children older than 2 years up to 3 years 4 months.
Parent-Infant Classes (Moon Garden)
This class explores various themes related to the growth, development, and parenting of the very young child. Parents will learn simple songs and games to play with their babies, and develop their ability to quietly observe and interpret babies’ movements, gestures, and vocalizations. Through quiet observation, parents deepen their own intuitive knowledge and discover new ways of being with and loving their children. Classes also include opportunities for informal conversation. Special attention is given to supporting the natural unfolding of children’s interests, movement abilities, social interactions, and problem solving skills. The classes are based on the insights of Rudolf Steiner and Dr. Emmi Pikler. We also utilize current research along with the common sense and wisdom of generations of parents.
The Moon Garden program is appropriate for parents and their babies (6 weeks to 10 months), expectant parents, grandparents, and caregivers. The Moon Garden program is offered in the fall and spring. Registration is handled on a first-come first-served basis.
The class runs for two 6-week sessions of 1.5 hours, once a week.
Parent-Toddler Classes (Star Garden)
Toddlers, with their newfound mobility and developing language skills, are people “on the go.” They’re busy discovering the world…and keeping their parents busy in the process. The peaceful and relaxing atmosphere of the Star Garden, where teachers demonstrate a quieter, gentler way of spending time with young children, can help give parents the calm and confidence they need. We go outside no matter the weather, facilitating the toddler's innate connection to the wonders of the natural world. There are readings on Waldorf early childhood education and child development from a variety of sources. An engaging parent evening is included each semester.
The Star Garden is appropriate for parents, grandparents, and/or caregivers of crawling babies and toddlers to 2 years of age at the time the session begins. The class runs for twelve weeks for 1.5 hours, once a week.
Parent-Child Classes (Sun Garden and Waldorf in the Woods)
For parents, grandparents, or caregivers and children between 2 years and 3 years, 4 months at the start date.
The Sun Garden Parent-Child Class (in the Garden House)
Children and parents experience the rhythms of a simplified Waldorf kindergarten morning in our Garden House, or yurt, which is nestled in our Children’s Garden play yard. The class begins with ample time for the children to play creatively and explore inside our classroom. While observing the children, parents busy themselves with crafts, baking, and other domestic arts and activities, which the children can choose to help with. Crafts might include creating a simple doll, candle making, felting, or sewing a stuffed toy. We come together as a group for circle time, with seasonal songs and verses, and for a snack seated around our table. Outdoor playtime is part of class each week rain or shine. Our expansive play yard offers climbing, sand play, water play, swinging opportunities, and time to just enjoy nature. The class concludes back inside the Garden House with a puppet show and goodbye circle. The Sungarden classes run for ten weeks for two and a half hours once a week. Fall and Spring sessions are offered.
Waldorf in the Woods Parent-Child Class
Outdoor play and regular contact with the natural world provide profound health and developmental benefits to the young child. The Forest Parent & Child Class offers parents and children a morning together in nature within the supportive atmosphere of a group. This all-outdoor class weaves in activities common to Waldorf early childhood programs beginning with a morning greeting circle. A trail hike through a wooded area to a stream follows with stops along the way to notice and interact with the natural world and play. The teachers choose and guide the hikes with an eye to supporting the young child’s physical and sensory development. We typically encounter a variety of terrain, roots, fallen trees, mud, rocks, water, and weather. Following the walk participants enjoy a well-earned snack together on picnic blankets. During the class sessions, parents have the opportunity to do crafts inspired by nature, cook outdoors, and have discussion based on weekly readings that accompany the class. The morning concludes with a circle time of seasonal songs and finger plays and a puppet show.
The Forest Class meets either at WWS, basing itself out of the Garden House, or at nearby Westmoreland Hills Park (5315 Elliott Drive, Bethesda.)