Helping Children Thrive: Our Early Childhood Programs
From our Parent & Child Classes through our mixed-age Nursery and Kindergarten classes, Green Meadow Waldorf School’s Early Childhood programs let children be children. Our teacher-led classrooms and beautiful outdoor spaces offer an environment in which students blossom, developing social-emotional skills and capacities that will serve them throughout their lives, supporting gross-motor and fine-motor development, and offering abundant opportunity for social interaction, creative play, guided activities, and self-initiated exploration. We’re located in Rockland County, close to New Jersey and Connecticut, and our students come from about 90 towns in 13 counties. We offer busing from NYC and Tarrytown/Westchester County.
Waldorf Education in Early Childhood
Waldorf Education is based on three pillars: goodness, beauty, and truth. In Early Childhood, we help children hold on to the sense that the world is good. Children enter the world with a sense of wonder and trust, which inspires our teachers to meet them with reverence, joy, and a deep interest in discovering who they are. Working from wisdom steeped in research and years of child observation, our experienced teachers seek the individuality of each child. Given a nurturing and supportive environment, the children’s abilities begin to reveal themselves.
Waldorf Education is also based on the knowledge that the developing child progresses through sequential stages. In Early Childhood, children learn best through play, exploration, and imitation. Our approach to education meets students with a balance of activities that challenge and broaden their emerging skills and capacities.
This page on the Waldorf Early Childhood Association of North America (WECAN) website offers a wealth of resources and information on Waldorf Early Childhood education. We are fully accredited by WECAN and the New York State Association of Independent Schools (NYSAIS).
Outdoor Work and Play and Time in Nature
All our classes are primarily outdoor, nature-based groups who engage in forest exploration, gardening, animal care, and farm visits. Interspersed with time in warm, home-like classrooms, explorations in farmland, field, and forest are at the core of our activities. Everywhere they go on our safe, spacious, 11-acre wooded campus, children in Green Meadow’s Early Childhood programs are welcomed into learning environments that nourish their senses.
Our Forest Preschool and Kindergarten takes place almost exclusively outdoors, and features a shelter, a stream, and endless opportunities for exploration.
Farm, Field, and Forest
In addition to our beautiful playground, our students experience the natural wonders of the farm, fields, forest, garden, pond, and woodland stream, all right outside the doors of our classrooms.
Rain or shine, in all seasons, our children spend time in nature each day, developing strong, healthy bodies and expanding their sensory experiences. Depending on the time of year, children sled down snowy hills, climb rocks in the Rocky Dell, and balance on fallen trees in the Fairy Woods. Such activities foster a lifelong respect for the earth and a deep appreciation for nature’s bounty.
At the heart of our Early Childhood program is our understanding that self-initiated play is critical to healthy development. As soon as children learn something new, they start to play with their new capacities, practicing and testing their skills until they tackle more and more difficult tasks. Therefore, ample time for creative indoor and outdoor play is part of each morning.
Open-ended toys made from natural materials, like silk scarves, knitted wool puppets, wooden blocks, and acorns collected from nature walks, nourish the child’s developing senses. With these natural items, children flex their creative muscles and imaginative capacities, and further develop their emerging fine-motor skills. Moveable structures that they can explore help develop gross-motor coordination. We believe that creative play is the child’s most important developmental tool, whether to discover new skills, work with experiences they have had, or express emotions.
Young children come to know and understand the world around them through movement. In addition to ample outdoor time every day, our Nursery and Kindergarten circle time lets the children exercise their joy of movement, while stimulating their imagination. Woven out of archetypal activities of life and experiences of nature, the songs of our circles nourish the child’s language development, invoke their natural delight in singing, and invite them to participate in a shared rhythm.
Artistic and Practical Experiences
Children engage in a broad range of skill building, allowing them to expand their attention and focus, improve their dexterity, and develop an appreciation for aesthetics. Painting, coloring, beeswax modeling, wet-wool felting, sewing, and finger-knitting are a few examples of artistic opportunities in our program.
Practical activities include snack preparation, washing and chopping vegetables, baking bread, caring for the environment, watering plants, polishing toys, mending, and making playthings. Collecting kindling for an outdoor fire on a winter morning, gardening in Fall and Spring, and hiking across the stream and through the orchard build strength, agility, and social skills. These practical experiences are carried out with as much independence by the children as possible. Working with their hands provides a foundation for focused attention, critical thinking and problem solving, and allows children the ability to create objects of beauty and function.
Story Time and Puppetry
Story time and puppetry play important roles in our curriculum. When children listen to stories, they develop an ability to listen, remember, and sequence the elements of a story. They can pick up the subtleties of characterization, and perhaps most important of all, imagine. Countering the artificial noise of electronic stories and digital media, our teachers practice the arts of storytelling and puppetry. Creative adults inspire the same qualities in the children around them, as they invite the listener into a world of “once upon a time.” The teller’s intonation, gestures, and expressions support the children’s growing vocabulary, listening comprehension, and attention span. We encourage them to begin to “think the pictures” and create a strong foundation for emerging literacy skills.
Nature Preschool, for ages 2 years, 9 months to 4 years old, situated on our main campus
Three Mixed-Age Kindergarten groups for ages 4-6:
Nature Explorers Kindergarten, ages 4-6, situated on our main campus
Forest Preschool and Kindergarten, ages 4-6, an all-outdoor, forest-based program
Farm Kindergarten, ages 4-6, situated on neighboring Duryea Farm
All children may attend Half Day (8:30am through lunch, 1:00pm dismissal), or Full Day (8:30am to 2:45pm).
Three-day attendance is available to children 2 years, 9 months to 4 years old (Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays)
Our Early Childhood After School Care Program is available from 2:45pm-6:00pm.
Come visit our campus!
Contact Andrea Gambardella, Early Childhood Admissions Coordinator, at ECadmissions@gmws.org or 845.356.2514 x326.