Our Classes

Our Parent/Child classes

Classes for children and their parents or caregivers from birth to three years old are intended to educate parents and caregivers on the development of their children, support them in their philosophy of parenting, as well as striving to facilitate and deepen the parent/child bond and relationship.

We do this through getting to know each other as individuals and families with unique values and life experiences. We offer a class rhythm which provides time for handcrafts, parent education, and discussion. We introduce songs, movement and stories appropriate for the age group. Most importantly, we provide plenty of time for self-initiated movement for the children.
Quiet parent observation of their child provides caregivers insight into child development and an understanding of how to best support their child’s unfolding abilities. These are the ingredients for a lifelong love of learning and provide the foundation that every young child needs for self confidence, resilience and future academic excellence. We also provide weekly readings for discussion on child development so adults may gain a greater awareness and trust in their children’s growing interests, motor abilities, social interactions and problem solving skills.

Parent’s trust in themselves as parents and their intuition strengthens their child’s emerging self confidence and feeds their growing interests in exploring their world.

For children two years old through Kindergarten

The Black River School strives to nurture and inspire children to a healthy life sense and well being through imaginative play and joyful work. Our classroom environment encourages young children to explore and engage in the wonders of the first years of life through group play. Our program is developmentally based rather than curricula based. This is because research has shown that, in early childhood, children need ample time for movement. There is no better way to get these movement experiences than through self-initiated free play. The child innately knows the movements their body needs for healthy development and, given the opportunity, they seek out these movements. All of these movements are absolutely fundamental for their cognitive growth and development. Early childhood research shows that without these fundamental movement experiences, children arriving in 1st grade will be unprepared for sitting, listening, reading, writing and all of the tasks required in an elementary classroom. Indoor and outdoor free play are the primary ways in which these vital developmental experiences are internalized by children. Black River School teachers create an environment that nurtures age appropriate, self-initiated play. Open ended toys are available inside and outside the classroom to nourish the child’s developing senses, encouraging them to employ their creative and imaginative capacities and further develop their emerging gross and fine motor skills. Imaginative play is the foundation of creative thought and movement is the catalyst for the development of the foundation of intellectual thought.

The development of their senses

In the young child’s early development, they learn through all of their senses- particularly the senses of touch, balance and self-movement. The development of these senses helps the child to access their own “inner world” where their sense of self, imagination, wonder, curiosity, and creative energies all live. When children are happily settled within themselves; happy and healthy development unfolds. Our culture today is constantly drawing children outside of themselves with screen time and early academics, robbing them of these vital early childhood play experiences.

From birth to 7 years old

Children are experiencing a sensitive period for the development of their will. As teachers, we support this development through our daily caring for the children, caring for the indoor and outdoor environment, and offering appropriate developmental handwork. Through their imitation of our purposeful work, the children have ample opportunities to use their hands, limbs, and whole selves in their work and play. This work of the child, which they freely choose, is a grounding experience which allows them the opportunity to bring their unique selves to their work and play so that they may begin to intimately know themselves and authentically initiate the development of their will.

Storytelling

Is an important component of our curriculum. Rather than reading books, we tell the children stories. When a child listens to a story their entire brain is engaged in that experience and this becomes one of the primary experiences in the development of their intellectual thought. By contrast when you read to a child from a book, with pictures, their brains are engaged by a single neural pathway. Stories for the 4-7 year olds are fairy tales. These stories provide experiences that the child is seeking; a deep understanding of archetypes and the lessons of good and evil from which they begin the development of their moral compass. Some of these stories are brought to the children as puppet plays. As Albert Einstein so poignantly said, “If you want your children to be intelligent read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent read them more fairy tales.”

For children two years old through kindergarten

We offer daily and weekly rhythms. These rhythms include plenty of time for indoor and outdoor self initiated free play, and opportunity for movement and imagination to grow and develop within the children. We have daily circle time, snack, puppet plays, and stories, as well as tidying up and cleaning up. Our weekly rhythms include: cooking, painting, drawing, gardening, food preparation and bread baking. Our seasonal rhythms include seasonal festival celebrations with art activities and family celebrations as a part of these experiences. We also offer the broader community the opportunity to participate in our seasonal Festival celebrations. Some of the core activities (rhythms) of the Waldorf program, that lead to a lifelong love of learning include:

  • Creative playtime – where the children are encouraged to imagine and play with a wide variety of natural materials and playthings, following their own initiative. An atmosphere of work and play permeates the room. Being able to follow a train of thought of their own initiative or carry a task to completion is very important to later schooling.
  • Circle time –  brings the class together to sing songs, recite verse, go on imaginative journeys, develop strong language abilities, and most importantly grow in relationship with themselves and their classroom community. Repeating and remembering verses sets the stage for the more intense work that will be required in elementary school. Rhyming sounds found in poems, nursery rhymes and songs educate the ear, forming the beginnings of spelling and phonics. Gestures imitated and learned at circle stimulate and facilitate the speech center of the brain.
  • Artistic and craft activities –  such as watercolor, painting, beeswax modeling, and drawing, as well as various forms of handwork encourage the child’s natural sense of beauty, color and form and lays the groundwork for artistic techniques.. They also help in the development of fine motor skills.
  • Music –  is a big part of our program. There is always song in the air. Songs are used to transition from one activity to another. An abundance of songs give the child an inner rhythm of peacefulness, thereby supporting the development of their life sense. Music also lays the foundation for future math and engineering skills.
  • Daily snack time –  means that the children help prepare the food, set the table and eat together with their teacher. Table manners and gratitude for the food sets the stage for the development of some wonderful lifelong social skills. All of our food is organic and prepared from scratch.
  • Outdoor play –  means children experience the natural world in all its different seasons. Gardening, free play and handwork in the outdoor world is invaluable to the young child. It is unequivocally the best experience for children. Extensive outdoor experiences sharpen the child’s observation skills, helps ground them into themselves and most importantly this down time provides the space and opportunity for them to process all that is going on physically, emotionally and intellectually in their lives.
River-Day
  • Story time –  is a time when the teacher will tell a nature story, fairy tale or put on a puppet show that is filled with wonder and imagination. The ability to listen to an adult for a sustained period of time is a skill that is gradually developed. The language arts in the Waldorf early childhood program has long been successful in cultivating fluid expression and large vocabularies.
  • Festivals –  are our ongoing celebrations of the seasons and special events. Festivals from various familie’s religious and social cultures are welcomed.
  • Life arts – such as cooking, gardening, repairing, and cleaning are all part of the daily routine involving the children in the practical activities and care of their materials, their environment and themselves. This lays the groundwork for organizational skills and self care needed in adult life.
  • Parent education evenings –  are part of our school year. These nights may include guest speakers. We also offer workshops for parents and the broader community. Our art and craft experiences are largely drawn from the Waldorf philosophy and principles.
  • The Black River School hopes that this overview provides a starting point for your journey into Waldorf education and that you will not hesitate to reach out to us and come visit us with your families!