The Waldorf School of Baltimore is expanding their kindergarten program next school year. Find out why.

When Elena Volkova and her husband began searching for a kindergarten program for their son last year, an emphasis on outdoor education was non-negotiable.

“Our son loves nature, and loves moving and exploring,” she said. “A curriculum based in nature education encourages children to recognize themselves as being a part of nature, and helps children learn from meaningful encounters and personal experiences.”

The couple enrolled their child in the kindergarten at the Waldorf School of Baltimore as the kindergarten program checked many of the boxes they were looking for.

“What attracted us to WSB was that the priority of the school focuses on nurturing individuality, fostering community, and allowing children to learn by real-life experiences through a play-based curriculum,” she said. “As a family, we strongly believe that children learn best when they feel seen and loved, and are in an uplifting environment that encourages curiosity.”

In the fall, the school decided to bring back the youngest groups of students for on-campus learning after creating outdoor classroom spaces for the preschool, pre-K and kindergarten classes. Volkova’s son is coming up to the end of his kindergarten year and has loved spending so much time outdoors exploring nature over this last school year.

“What is remarkable about the Waldorf kindergarten is that it has prepared my son for first grade by nurturing self-awareness and helping him see himself as a part of a community,” she said. “During the year, my son’s articulation and communication abilities have flourished, and his sense of compassion and empathy have grown.”

The Waldorf kindergarten program provides a strong foundation for academic success in elementary school and beyond by stimulating intellectual curiosity, encouraging the imagination, building vocabulary, developing phonemic awareness, expanding expressive language and nurturing personal growth. Each day offers a careful balance of quieter, receptive activities and more active, hands-on experiences, keeping children fully engaged and respecting the unique developmental needs of children in kindergarten.

One of the fundamentals of Waldorf education is introducing core educational subjects like math, science, language arts and history hand in hand with life skills. Kindergarten classes integrate life skills with math and science by making snacks together as a class. Every day, children learn to prepare wholesome snacks together by using reasoning, collaboration, measuring, counting and observing the magic of science happening right before their eyes. Snack could be something as simple as popcorn or something as magical as fresh bread baked from scratch with fresh butter.

All kindergarten children engage in making crafts. This can vary from finger knitting and sewing to woodworking and making simple toys. These handcrafts, along with painting and drawing, help children with dexterity, hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills. Handcrafts become more complex in the curriculum as children get older, with knitting starting in first grade and more math being integrated into the projects.

“Art and handwork are substantial catalysts for learning,” Volkova said, “because it makes school fun for kids!  It gives kids agency and teaches them self-reliance, to be creative and to never be bored.”

Being able to integrate forest exploration into the curriculum is also something teachers tap into, which keeps learning interesting and lively. As a certified Maryland Green School, being connected to nature and the outdoors is emphasized in the curriculum from preschool all the way through eighth grade. Currently, classes are held outdoors as much as possible for all students.

“This isn’t something new for us either,” said Pat Whitehead, Executive Director. “Even prior to the pandemic our children were engaged in a lot of outdoor learning.”

The school firmly believes in connecting children to nature and helping them develop a respectful and healthy relationship with the planet. WSB has been doing so for the last 50 years.

Not only does the school have an ample amount of forest space behind their building; classes also walk to the Cylburn Arboretum for science and nature studies. As the children become older, the curriculum becomes increasingly more complex when it comes to understanding and studying the earth.

“Everything we do here is developmentally aligned to meet children where they are in their growth,” Whitehead said. “But there’s one thing that doesn’t change with age and that’s getting outside each and every day: rain, snow, or shine. All of our kids go outdoors at least twice a day, because we know it’s healthier for children to feel nature around them and to bask in fresh air. It’s a good thing for adults, too.”

The Waldorf School of Baltimore educates and inspires children to think, feel, and act with depth, imagination, and purpose. Students develop critical thinking, creativity, and intellectual awareness through a rich and rigorous curriculum. Learn more about this school on their website:

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