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 are immersed in a calm atmosphere and quiet rhythm that supports play, healthy self-initiated movement, and imitation. We explore themes related to child development, Waldorf education, and parenting the young child 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, for three age groups:
- Parents and infants, six weeks to 10 months
- Parents and toddlers, 10 months to 2 years 3 months
- Parents and children, older than 2 years and up to 3 years 4 months
Moon Garden (Parent-Infant Classes)
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 understanding their children. Classes also include opportunities for informal conversation with our experienced Waldorf early educators and other parents. Teachers will guide parents in supporting the natural unfolding of their child's interests, movement abilities, social interactions, and problem-solving skills. The classes are based on the insights of Rudolf Steiner and Dr. Emmi Pikler. Teachers utilize current child development research along with the common sense and wisdom of generations of parents and caregivers to inform their work.
The Moon Garden program is appropriate for babies six weeks to 10 months at the time the session begins and their parents, grandparents, or caregivers. Expectant parents are also welcome. The Moon Garden program is offered in the fall and spring. The class runs for two six-week sessions of 1.5 hours, once a week. Fall and spring sessions are offered.
Star Garden (Parent-Toddler Classes)
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 require to meet their child's changing needs. We go outside no matter the weather, facilitating the toddler's innate connection to the wonders of the natural world. Teachers provide readings on Waldorf early childhood education and child development from a variety of sources and lead an engaging parent evening each semester.
The Star Garden is appropriate for crawling babies and toddlers up to 2 years of age at the time the session begins, and their parents, grandparents, or caregivers. The class runs for ten weeks for 1.5 hours, once a week. Fall and spring sessions are offered.
Outdoor Sun Garden and Indoor Sun Garden (Parent-Child Classes)
Outdoor Sun Garden
Outdoor play and regular contact with the natural world provide profound health and developmental benefits to the young child. Parents, grandparents, or caregivers and children experience 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 make crafts inspired by nature, cook outdoors, and have a 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 Outdoor Sun Garden Class meets either at WWS by the Garden House, or at nearby Westmoreland Hills Park (5315 Elliott Drive, Bethesda, MD.)
Both Sun Garden classes are appropriate for children between 2 years and 3 years, 4 months at the start date, and their parents, grandparents, or caregivers. Classes run for ten weeks for 2.5 hours, once a week. Fall and Spring sessions are offered.
Indoor Sun Garden (in the Garden House)
Children and parents, grandparents, or caregivers 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 activities such as crafts, baking, and other domestic arts and activities, with which the children can choose to help. 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.