Group of kids outside.

Early Childhood

Green Meadow inspires students to become active and deeply engaged in their own learning.

Overview

A working dairy farm, meadows and fields, forest, gardens, pond, and woodland streams, all right outside the doors of our classrooms, provide the richest possible learning environments for young children.

Three girls smiling together.

the waldorf difference

In our Early Childhood program, children enter a warm, natural, beautiful environment, where a steady rhythm, seasonal festivals, meaningful work and play, singing, movement, and handwork encourage children’s connection to the world and their natural capacities to blossom.

Boys eating fruit.

a unique private school

Preschool & Kindergarten Programs

All of our classes are primarily outdoor, nature-based, groups who are immersed in forest exploration, gardening, animal care, and farm visits in addition to singing, handwork, painting and drawing. Teachers forge strong bonds with every child, helping each develop a voice in the class and creating a safe, nurturing environment, fostering a lifelong respect for the earth, as well as a deep love and appreciation for each other.

Maple Garden & Woodland Nature Preschools

Maple Garden Nature Preschool enrolls ages 2 years, 9 months to 4 years old.

Woodland Nature Preschool enrolls children 3, 4, and younger 5 years old (5th birthday after June 30).

Our Maple Garden and Woodlands Nature Preschools are fully outdoors from September through November and April through June. They enjoy some hours daily in their classroom during the colder months of November through March.

The joy of being together, sharing discovery and growing into emerging skills are central to the daily life for these very young children.

A teacher and an assistant teacher guide the group. The teachers are very attentive to support each child’s physical, language, social-emotional and cognitive development. Their week includes singing and rhymes, storytelling and games, gardening and animal care, art and crafts.

Nature Explorers Kindergarten

For ages 4-6, situated on our main campus. 16-18 children

Nature Explorers Kindergarten has its home-base yard and classroom on the main campus. Children engage in forest adventures and explorations, and fall and spring visits to the nearby Farm Kindergarten. Weekly visits to the Children’s Garden are for tending their vegetable, flower and herb beds and helping with chicken and bunny care.

A teacher and an assistant teacher guide the group. They engage in the full scope of Waldorf early childhood activities including play, practical work, stories, singing and circle time, arts, crafts, and nature exploration.

Forest Kindergarten

For ages 4 years – 6 years. 16-18 children.

The Forest Kindergarten is an almost exclusively outdoor program in our adjacent woodlands. They have a dedicated woodland area with a small shelter. This group also frequents the Children’s Garden across the street from our main campus. They garden and participate in chicken and bunny care. They have a dedicated classroom for the rare occasions when severe weather brings them indoors and for some regular indoor hours in the coldest months.

A teacher and 2 support teachers lead this group. They engage in the full scope of Waldorf early childhood activities including play, practical work, stories, singing and circle time, arts, crafts, and nature exploration in a kind and intentionally inclusive social group.

Farm Kindergarten

For ages 4 years – 6 years. 16-18 children.

The Farm Kindergarten occupies an expansive, dedicated fenced yard on the nearby Duryea Farm, a working dairy farm within walking distance of our main campus. The children care for their own garden, a small flock of miniature sheep, chickens and bunnies. They have an adjacent classroom for the winter months. Being of service to the animals and the land are central for this group.

A teacher and 2 assistant teachers guide the group. They engage in the full scope of Waldorf early childhood activities including play, practical work, stories, singing and circle time, arts, crafts, and nature exploration in a kind and intentionally inclusive social group.

More Information

All children may attend Half Day (8:30am through lunch, 1:00pm dismissal), or Full Day (8:30am to 2:45pm dismissal).

3-day option 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 for parents to use as needed. Hourly billing is sent monthly.

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Kids sitting cooking pancakes.

The experience

Goodness

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, the teachers in our private Nursery and Kindergarten programs seek the individuality of each child. Given a nurturing and supportive environment, the children’s abilities begin to reveal themselves.

Waldorf Education is based on the knowledge that the developing child progresses through sequential stages. In the period known as Early Childhood, children learn best through play, exploration, and imitation. Our approach to education meets students with a balance of activities that challenge their emerging skills and capacities.

Girls looking at each other.

The experience

Outdoor work and play

Our Early Childhood programs are based in outdoor play and work. 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 11-acre campus, children in Green Meadow’s private preschool programs are welcomed into learning environments that nourish their senses.

Kids playing with chickens.

The experience

Farm, Field, and Forest

Our children benefit from a rich variety of outdoor spaces. In addition to our beautiful playground, they 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, our children spend time outdoors 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.

Boys scooping dirt.

The experience

Creative Play

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.

Girl on log.

The experience

Movement

Young children come to know and understand the world around them though 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.

Girl painting.

The experience

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.

Teacher with puppet.

The experience

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.

Hear From Our Alumni Families

Class of '89

Stefan Schaefer

Filmmaker

As a Waldorf lifer, I ventured out into 'the real world’ with some trepidation. But I was able to tackle college and graduate work with ease. The breadth of curriculum I’d been exposed to gave me a sense of curiosity and willingness to take risks in my learning that many of my peers lacked.

Class of '89

Dan Feldman

Director at Verizon

In Waldorf Education, we were guided to solve problems creatively vs. memorizing facts. It is this curiosity, creativity, confidence, and awakeness that allows Waldorf students to excel at just about anything they choose to take on.

Class of '95

Agamemnon Otero

CEO, Repowering

I remember painting, drawing, sculpting, book-binding, eurythmy, acting, and poetry with fondness, and math, biology, history, and orchestra with fits of frustration. My teachers supported my development, knowing full well that once a passion for learning is lit, it will burn for a lifetime.

Class of '99

Kirstin Wolfe

DDS

Waldorf Education taught me to solve problems. I attribute that to my ability to be both analytical and compassionate. I also am so grateful for the lifelong connections I have with friends and members of the Waldorf community.

Class of '98 & '99

The Chapin Sisters (Abigail and Lily)

Musicians

One of the most important things that our Waldorf Education gave us is a community of passionate, engaged people. Many of our closest friends are people we met at Green Meadow. They have careers (in the arts, sciences, academia, business, and the military) and a genuine love for their work.

Class of '01

Zaria Forman

Artist

I value so much about my Waldorf Education, it's difficult to chose one thing! The enduring friendships I made, how art was woven through every subject, the attention and care given by the teachers. I will be forever thankful for those very formative years of my life.

Class of '05

Phil Constable

Music Producer (DJ Hardwerk)

Our beloved class teacher and friend, David Blair, taught me the value of never giving up on something because it gets difficult, you don’t like it, or it’s an inconvenience. He taught me that seeing your goals come to fruition after you have faced obstacles makes the victory that much sweeter.

Class of '12

Alex Chin

Graduate Student in Physics

Green Meadow fosters great relationships between teachers and students and allows students to participate in so many different activities. I was able to get my first job in college, building sets for the theater department, because of the work we did on high school plays at GMWS.

Want to know more?

Find more information about Waldorf Early Childhood Education.