Guiding Principles & Curriculum: 

Protecting and nourishing childhood as the foundation for the future.

What every parent would wish as the best for his or her children, Waldorf education provides. The fullest development of intelligent, imaginative, self-confident and caring persons is the aim of Waldorf education.
— Douglas Sloan, Professor Emeritus, Columbus University

 Our purposefully pre-academic curriculum is carefully planned to meet the needs of the young child, providing a healthy foundation for the rest of life, in academic, social, emotional and creative realms. Our approach to education works from wisdom steeped in research: the young child learns best through play, exploration and imitation.

Children are met with balance of activities that entice and challenge their emerging skills and capacities. In warm, home-like classrooms, and in nature’s bountiful wooded play spaces and gardens, children at Harbor Waldorf School are welcomed into learning environments that nourish their senses, invite their innate desire for self-initiated exploration and movement, and inspire their budding imaginations. These are the seeds for a lifelong love of learning, and they provide the foundation that every young child needs for self-confidence, resilience, and future academic excellence. 


"Play is the highest form of research" -Albert Einstein. At the heart of our early childhood program is our understanding that self-initiated play is critical to the healthy development of all young children. The classrooms at Harbor Waldorf School provide an environment that encourages children to initiate play and learn by freely exploring the world around them, which in turn nurtures self-education and self-regulation skills. Open-ended toys made from natural materials nourish the child’s developing senses, flex their creative muscles and imaginative capacities, and further develop their emerging fine motor skills.  In addition, structures that they can move and explore with their whole bodies, combined with environments that invite movement, help to develop their gross motor coordination.   We believe that creative play is the child’s most important developmental tool: through the activity of imaginative play, children develop physically, mentally, socially, and emotionally.


Artistic & Practical Activity

Children engage in a broad range of of activities that work to strengthen the primary senses, allow 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 the artistic opportunities in our program.  Practical activities include snack preparation, washing and chopping vegetables, baking bread, caring for the environment, watering plants, mending, and repairing and making toys.  These practical experiences are often connected to the seasons, and 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 provides children with the irreplaceable ability to create objects of beauty and function.


Story Telling

Story time and puppetry play important roles in our curriculum.  When children listen to stories they develop an ability to listen, to remember, to sequence the elements of a story, pick up the subtleties of characterization, and perhaps most important of all, to 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 pacing, intonation, gestures and expression all 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 their emerging literacy skills.




Young children come to know and understand the world around them though movement.  Our circle time lets the children live freely and naturally into their joy of movement, while simultaneously stimulating their imagination.  Woven out of archetypal activities of life and experiences of nature, the rhymes and songs in our circles nourish the child’s language development, stimulate their natural delight in singing and invite them to participate in a flowing rhythm imbued with beauty and order.


Time in Nature

Our children benefit from a rich variety of outdoor play spaces.  In addition to our beautiful playground, they experience the natural wonders of our “fairy woods". Rain or shine, ample outdoor opportunities exist for developing strong, healthy bodies and fostering a life long respect for the earth and a deep appreciation for nature’s bounty in our children.


Joy, Reverence & Gratitude 

Our teachers work to create classrooms that are warm, beautiful and loving home-like environments, which are protective and secure, and where things happen in a predictable, rhythmic manner. Joy is at the heart of our early childhood program, where teachers model passionate engagement in the activities of each day and a deep interest in each of their students. In our classes, children are encouraged to share, to work together, to care for each other and to respect the needs of others.  The behavior of children is molded by what surrounds them. Kindness is practiced by teachers and encouraged in the children, who in turn learn to trust the adults and other children. 

Through regular exposure to the natural world, reverence for life in all forms is gently nurtured. From sledding down a hill, climbing through a tunnel or balancing on a fallen tree limb, opportunities abound for healthy fun. Experiences like foraging for wild edibles connect students to the earth in a personal and meaningful way.

Gratitude is cultivated  as children learn to work together in the service of the class community. They are actively engaged in the preparation of snacks by washing and chopping vegetables, baking bread; they take turns setting the table with place mats, cutlery and a vase of flowers. When snack is done, children take turns washing, rinsing and drying dishes, bowls and cups for the entire class. Children in our program are “helpers” and see themselves and what they do as important to others—thereby enabling them to notice and appreciate how what others do affects them. 



Even though it is easy to lose track of it, we live in a world of rhythm: day and night, waking and sleeping, the seasons of the year, the cycles of life. Our classrooms too are places where rhythm exists and is highly valued. By setting a consistent form for each day and each week, children more easily come to understand their world. The young child relaxes into the rhythms we set for them; they find comfort and security knowing exactly what to expect each day. This gives them the freedom to focus their time and energy on more important work: social learning, emotional development, gross and fine motor skills, to name a few.

Our idea of rhythm is not simply a schedule, but takes into account the needs of the whole child, as well as the group: the child’s need for movement, for focused, quiet times and time to explore and direct their own play.  Times to use their minds, times to use their bodies and times to use their hands.

The rhythm of each classroom changes from year to year, and sometimes season to season. A typical rhythm in one of our classrooms might look like this:

Weekly Rhythm

All snacks are homemade, using high quality, whole food ingredients, and are largely prepared by the children themselves. From cutting vegetables for soup, to kneading dough for bread, children delight in participating in the activities of real life.

Daily Rhythm

For more information on the specific details, and specific educational benefits, of these activities, visit our Guiding Principles page.


Parent + Child

Ages 12 - 36 months, with a caregiver


The morning follows a flowing rhythm: creative play, baking bread, circle time, snack, clean up and puppet show. During free play, children are provided with simple, natural toys in a calm and comfortable environment while parents are offered the opportunity for community, and observation of their children. 

Circle time and the puppet show reflect the world of nature and seasonal festivals. Circle time provides a learning experience through music and rhyme. Games and movement activities engage large and fine motor coordination, as well as language development and auditory processing.

Stories and puppet plays nourish the child’s imagination and provide rich material for creative play. Together, we enjoy a nourishing and organic snack of freshly made bread and fruit. Working together, parents and teachers provide a model of what community means to the young child.

If you have ever been curious about the Waldorf approach to education, this is a wonderful introduction.  

For the fall session, this class will be led by Maggie Touchette; the winter session will be led by Aynsley Schopfer; the spring session will be led by Maggie Touchette.

To register, scroll down.

FOR THE Fall SESSION, Tuition is $325 and Classes are held : 

  • MONDAYS / 8.45 - 10.00 AM / for children 12 - 24 months / FULL FOR THE FALL SESSION

    • Begins September 23 and ends November 25

  • MONDAYS / 10.45 AM - 12.15 PM / for children 18 - 36 months/ FULL FOR THE FALL SESSION

    • Begins September 23 and ends November 25

The Fall Session is full. Registration for the winter session will open in December.
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Ages 2.5- 4

  • Offered two or three days a week, Tuesday - Thursdays

  • 8.30 AM to 12.30 PM; for children who turn 3 after Dec. 1 2019, hours are 9.35 AM - 12.30 PM

  • AfterCare available (until 2.30); children must be 3 by December 1 2019 to be able to enroll in AfterCare

  • This program is for children 2.5 and older

  • Children must be independent in the bathroom to enroll

  • Morning program includes healthy, hearty, homemade snack (such as vegetable soup).

Our Nursery program offers a warm and welcoming transition for the young child, who may be experiencing separation from parents for the first time.  Teachers work with parents and children to support and encourage the nursery child's growing independence beginning with a warm and welcoming drop off ritual each morning.  

 Young children are filled with joy and enthusiasm. Participating wholeheartedly in everything around them, they learn naturally through imitation and imagination. Our nursery — loving, warm, and secure — reflects this view of children. Teachers support the children’s growth by working in meaningful activities such as baking bread, gardening, and caring for our barnyard animals. The teachers nurture the children’s imagination by telling stories, singing, and encouraging free play.

Children in our nursery learn to put on their own coat and shoes, which promotes self-reliance, confidence and patience in learning. This, in turn, leads children to have patience with others and a willingness to share and help. Children learn to love learning as they gain new skills in these primary tasks. 

This curriculum supports the children's developing motor skills, social intelligence, and scientific curiosity. Through our work with songs, stories, and games, we also begin to plant the seeds of literacy and numeracy in a way that will allow the concepts to grow with the children. 

Through these experiences, each child has the opportunity to grow and develop in their actions, thoughts, and feelings. The qualities we value in adulthood are fostered here: creative and flexible thinking, inner conviction, self-discipline, personal freedom, and self-knowledge.


Children's Garden

Ages 3 - 6

  • This program is 5 Days a week

  • Hours are 8.30 AM - 12.30 PM

  • AfterCare is available until 2.30 PM (Monday - Thursday only, no AfterCare on Fridays)

  • Children must be 3 or older by Sept 1, 2019 and independent in the bathroom to be eligible for enrollment

  • Morning program includes healthy, hearty, homemade snack (such as vegetable soup).

Truly a child’s garden, this mixed age class is designed particularly to protect, nourish and encourage the developing child.  Our classes are warm, joyful and family-like, with experienced teachers who support and guide each child’s imaginative capacities, practical skills, social development and emerging intellect.
The children's garden is purposefully pre-academic and provides children with the strong foundations they will need for elementary-age learning.  Circle time and story-telling provide a foundation for language arts; rhythmic games, songs, and guided movement help children develop a relationship to space, numbers, and mathematics; exposure to the natural world provides the foundation for the life sciences; creative play lays the foundation for self-motivated learning and artistic activity fosters creative problem solving and the development of integrated life skills.

Children refine their self-care skills and their expanding ability to help each other forms a close-knit class community. 

The diversity of ages in our mixed-age Children’s Garden classes provides the opportunity for students to learn from one another and inspire growth in each other. Older children help younger children and are given greater classroom responsibilities with daily activities tailored to their increasing capacities. Activities for the older kindergarten child are also specifically designed to prepare them for the challenges of first grade.  The younger children learn from the older children by watching and begin to learn some of the steps, skills and expectations. 

Through attentive focus, and with a peaceful approach, teachers ensure that each child feels their worthiness in the classroom. The children  find within themselves competent, capable individuals who can step into the wider world with confidence.  


Six Year Olds : How we support the kindergarten students in our mixed age Children’s Garden

One of the most important aspects of Waldorf education is its commitment to understanding child development, and creating curriculum that meets the children where they are, while respectfully guiding them toward the next phase. With this in mind, we wait until the child is six-turning-seven to begin formal academic schooling. We decline to follow the cultural panic of forcing early developmental expectations and academic tasks upon young children. We know that early childhood has unique tasks to complete that can be accomplished only in the first seven or so years of life. When the child is allowed to grow a strong physical body, integrate the senses, and strengthen their emotional development, the tasks of the grade school years will be accomplished more successfully.

There is a change of consciousness- the beginning of a new phase of development- between ages six and seven that makes the child truly ripe for the challenges of academic learning. We see them slowly turning toward a new recognition for authority; verbal information becomes more accessible. The child can hold onto a thought, an idea, a play, a plan, over longer periods of time. Memory begins to become free and independent; thinking takes on new form. Even the physical body shows signs of change: the limbs lengthen, gross and fine motor skills mature, baby teeth are replaced by adult ones. They are now able to sit, and focus with prolonged attention-- essential skills for learning in an academic setting.

In our mixed age children’s garden, the six year olds are known as elderberries, and have special privileges and responsibilities specifically developed to support this period of transformation. Learning to work with their hands in a new way is especially satisfying at this stage: there are more sewing projects, building projects and the preparation and performance of puppet shows. They use real tools: sharp needles, hammers, and nails and learn to manage these things carefully. Activities begin to become project-based, rather than the process-based activities typical of early childhood.

This is “First Grade Ready” work: the children build their stamina for sustained focus as they work for days, or even weeks, to complete their tasks. These activities provide important practice of hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills, which are imperative for writing. They train the eye to follow left to right, as in reading. Additionally, patience, persistence and independent problem-solving must be practiced. Self-confidence is gained, as they become masters of these tasks.

Literacy and numeracy work begins each Spring: a playful and imaginative introduction to conceptual learning. These lessons are a bridge from our play-based kindergarten into first grade, supported by the artistic and imaginative nature of Waldorf education.

For more information on the changing consciousness of the six year old child, check out this article by Michelle Brightwater, kindergarten teacher at the Maple Village Waldorf School here.