Waldorf’s Free Drop-in Playgroups Offer Perfect Opportunity To Test the Pre-school Waters for Infants to 3-Year-Olds
Kids tend to grow like tomato plants in the heat of the summer. If that babe-in-arms you knew this past spring is beginning to look like more of an active toddler suddenly, you may be wondering if some social engagement outside of the home may be appropriate for him or her this fall. The Waldorf School of Saratoga Springs is offering the perfect opportunity to test the waters with their free drop-in playgroups beginning in September.
Waldorf education began 100 years ago this fall in Germany, and The Waldorf School of Saratoga Springs has been offering this unique educational approach to our region since 1981 as the only pre-K through 12 independent school in Saratoga County. The Waldorf approach incorporates a deep understanding of child development and what a child needs (and doesn’t need) during certain phases of their development in order to reach their full potential as a whole human being.
All of the school’s early childhood programs — serving children from infancy through age 6 — have a distinct feeling of beauty, calm and rhythm, allowing the child to develop a secure attachment to the world and explore it through all of their senses at their own pace. The classrooms are full of natural light and simple, creativity-enhancing toys made of wool, wood, cotton and other natural materials. Traditional academics, such as reading and arithmetic, are not taught in a traditional sense, but through language-rich stories and circle games, clapping and skipping, healthy brain and body development are enhanced to lay the best foundation for academic learning in grade school and beyond. Children are also afforded ample opportunity for free play with each other — enhancing social skills, collaboration, creative problem solving and self-direction that will serve them for life.
The school’s drop-in playgroups began this past May, and proved so popular that the school will offer them again this fall, with two currently scheduled for September 19 and 26 at 9:30 a.m. and more likely to be scheduled later in the fall. Each playgroup session is free and open to the public for birth to three-year-olds with a caregiver and provides a taste of the school’s more formal parent-child classes.
“Parents spend much of their days keeping up with all the needs of their children. In our playgroups parents can enjoy a break by sitting around the edges of the room and bringing their attention to the children as they play,” notes Katherine Scharff, a longtime early childhood educator at the school and Simplicity Parenting ® coach. The playgroup time also includes observation time, some time to share, lap and finger games, snack for the children and outside playtime.
Other early childhood programs at the school include parent-child classes offered weekly in six-week sessions based on demand and whole-year pre-school and kindergarten classes for either two or five days a week based on age. Classes are held at one of two campuses. At the Waldorf Early Childhood Center across from Eastside Recreational Park on Lake Avenue, children experience intimate and nurturing classrooms and a play yard and gardens within a friendly neighborhood setting. Located on Spa State Park land, the Forest Kindergarten campus features numerous forested hiking trails and ample yard space for climbing, gardening, digging, playing, and working. A restored farmhouse provides a nurturing indoor space for a nutritious organic lunch, rest, and respite from extreme weather.
For more information on The Waldorf School’s drop-in play groups or any of their other early childhood programs, visit their website at www.waldorfsaratoga.org/earlychildhood or call or email their admissions office at 518-587-2224 or email@example.com.