Skip to content

Early Childhood Category

Forest Kindergarten’s First Weeks

forest tree
For three glorious Wednesday mornings, Ashwood’s newest Early Childhood program, the Forest Kindergarten, has been going to the woods! When the children arrive at school, they put their backpacks, containing a full water bottle and a change of clothes, on an outside bench, go to the bathroom, then don their rain pants and say goodbye to their parents.

Once everyone has arrived, we say goodbye to Ms. Beth and the children in her group. The children take their backpacks, Jen and I hoist our bags (the teachers’ bags carry a water jug, towels, snack food, ropes, tools…) onto our backs, we sing a gathering song, and head for the woods; one adult in front (usually holding a hand or two), the other at the back.

The morning walk is a very social time. Children have many stories to tell, usually triggered by something we see. Looking at tracks: “Oh, I wonder which animal passed through this muddy puddle?” Stories emerge from the children, often based on their observations or experiences and always enriched by their imagination.

On our way we greet “grandfather maple tree”; we notice his little round holes from the sap collected in past winters (an occasion for children to tell about maple syrup experiences, pancake breakfasts, etc.) We tell him how we look forward to collecting some of his sap late next winter. We notice “squirrels’ restaurants,” stumps covered in acorn or pinecone debris; see how this week there are many more yellow leaves…. Marvel at how Big Rock sits all alone at the edge of the woods…. Many of those passing remarks and the stories we create and tell are foundations for future scientific learning. In the Forest Kindergarten we observe, marvel, wonder, and learn to feel at home in the woods.

When we arrive to our “home clearing” by the stream, we have a short greeting and seasonal circle, a game or two, and then the children take off to play. During that time the teachers, always with some children’s help, occupy themselves at preparing our snack; tying colored strings between trees to mark the boundaries; fixing tools; building a temporary shelter (ropes and a tarp, until we have a permanent one). These activities render our space more hospitable and allow us teachers to roam close by without hovering over the children. We influence or transform (if necessary) the children’s play without words, just by imitation. The children play in total freedom and safety!

With a flute song, the children are called to snack. Mud-covered hands are roughly washed in some puddles before a real tub wash, a rinse with clear water from our jug, and drying. We sit on the leafy ground, around a tablecloth, sing a grace in French, eat our snack, and return to play until story time, at the end of the morning. Then we go back to Rosewood, dirty, hungry, and tired. What a treat to arrive to a classroom where the table is set and lunch smells SO GOOD! The “indoor” kindergarteners and their teacher have been busy! The Forest Kindergarten day ends with cleaning up, changing into clean clothes, and sitting at the table for a lunch of delicious soup!
-Marianne Bockli

Seasonal Handwork Workshops

Creating beautiful handwork can enrich our connection with the changing seasons. Cherry Short-Lee, longtime parent-child class leader and one of Ashwood’s founders, has offered to share her enthusiasm and expertise with parents of children ages 18-36 months, with or without their children, this fall. In three sessions, October 7, 14, and 21, from 9:00 – 11:00 a.m., learn to create grapevine wreaths and decorate them with natural materials to reflect the changing seasons. Sessions are free of charge; fee for materials is $5.00.

Register no later than October 2 by phoning or emailing Judith Soleil: 236-8021 ext. 105;

Parent-Child Classes: Register Now for Fall 2014

Marianne Böckli, Ashwood Waldorf School’s Forest Kindergarten teacher, will lead Ashwood’s Parent-Child classes this fall. Classes will be offered on six Tuesday mornings from 9:00 – 11:00 a.m., beginning October 28. Cost for the six sessions is $150, and you must register by October 21.

Parent-child classes are a gentle and nurturing program for children ages 18 months to three years and their accompanying caregiver.

While children engage in creative play with simple, natural toys, adults may work on a craft project provided by the teacher, help with snack preparation, or discuss parenting or child development. A walk through the woods on one of our trails, time on the playground to climb and swing, and a goodbye song together complete the morning.

Ashwood’s Parent-Child program nurtures the whole family (moms, dads, babies, toddlers, and grandparents are all welcome) and provides a bridge from home to school. When ready, young children may transition to Ashwood’s mixed-age Early Childhood classroom.

Contact Judith Soleil: 207.236.8021

Parent-Child Classes Fall 2014

Ashwood Waldorf School’s Parent-Child program offers a sanctuary of safe play for children and an oasis of peace and friendship for parents. The children play freely, enjoying simple group activities while their parents are nearby making toys or crafts and sharing their concerns and questions as parents of young children. This will be a valuable opportunity to meet other parents with similar questions, ideas, and resources.

Share your questions and explore the importance of nutrition, routine, and stages of development with other parents and our experienced facilitator within our friendly and informal setting. Parent-Child classes are specially designed for children 18 to 36 months old with an accompanying parent or caregiver.

This fall’s six-week session will meet on Tuesdays from 9 to 11:00 a.m., October 28 – December 9, 2014.

Ashwood Waldorf School’s Parent-Child program offers a sanctuary of safe play for children and an oasis of peace and friendship for parents. The children play freely, enjoying simple group activities while their parents are nearby making toys or crafts and sharing their concerns and questions as parents of young children. This will be a valuable opportunity to meet other parents with similar questions, ideas, and resources.

Classes are led by early-childhood educator Marianne Böckli, who has decades of experience as a Waldorf teacher and mother.

The fee for each six-week session is $150. Infant siblings are welcome at no extra charge. A sibling over six months old may be enrolled for half of the tuition. Enrollment deadline is Tuesday, October 21. For more information, or to receive a registration form, please contact Judith Soleil at or 207-236-8021 or go to: to download a registration form.

Located on Park Street in Rockport, Ashwood Waldorf School is an accredited independent school serving children 18 months through eighth grade. At Ashwood, children grow and learn gracefully in an unhurried way, gaining strength and skills through the joy of play in their earliest years and meeting increasingly complex physical, social, and academic challenges as they mature. Ashwood has had a presence in midcoast Maine for 27 years, educating children from Damariscotta to Belfast and beyond. For more information about Ashwood Waldorf School please call the office at 207-236-8021, email or visit

Ashwood Hosts Film Screenings

School’s Out: Lessons from a Forest Kindergarten. Ashwood Waldorf School Hosts Film Screenings

On Sunday, August 10, Ashwood Waldorf School hosts two free showings of the film, School’s Out: Lessons from a Forest Kindergarten. The short film will be presented at the Rockland Public Library at 2:00 p.m., and again at 4:00 p.m. at Ashwood’s early-childhood center at 180 Park St. Childcare will be provided for both screenings.

Ashwood is launching a forest kindergarten program this fall, the first in the Rockport area. The forest kindergarten will offer a full Waldorf early-childhood experience, outdoors. Fall, winter, and spring, in all weathers, children will enjoy seasonal activities, circle time, gardening, forest walks, and creative free play. The Forest Kindergarten movement is growing rapidly in the U.S. after more than 40 years’ success in Europe and Scandinavia.

Both film showings are free. Please RSVP no later than Friday, August 8: 207.236.8021

schools out photo.

New Forest Kindergarten Now Enrolling

Ashwood’s Forest Kindergarten program will offer a full Waldorf kindergarten experience, outdoors. Fall, winter, and spring, in all weathers, children will enjoy seasonal activities, circle time, gardening, forest walks, and creative free play. They will delight in stories around the fire where they prepare their snack and warm their tea. Waldorf early-childhood education integrates art, music, and movement into a structured, play-based curriculum. With small class sizes and dedicated, experienced teachers, Ashwood provides active and creative experiences that nurture an enthusiasm for learning. Veteran teacher and outdoor educator Marianne Bockli will lead the program. Bockli has spent the last five years mentoring Waldorf teachers in China, and brings a rich life experience and deep love of nature to the program. The Forest Kindergarten program will be offered on Wednesdays to children enrolled in Ashwood’s regular Early Childhood program. There will be no additional tuition fees for enrolling in the program. Participants will enjoy the traditional course of activities with their regular teacher and classmates on the other days of the week.

Forest boys

Martinmas Celebration

lantern walk

Early Childhood
On Friday, November 15, our Rosewood Kindergarten class joined with Mr. Clough’s first and second grade for a truly magical experience. All week we had been working on our lanterns for this event, speaking of it, telling stories and singing songs. Anticipation was in the air!

Earlier that day, the first and second graders and I placed lights along the path to illuminate our way. The children worked diligently to gather wood for the fire pit, piling twigs, branches, and logs into wheelbarrows and wagons, metal tubs and baskets. They showed great industry and willingness. Thank you, children, for your help!

Mr. Clough lit a bonfire as the moon rose in the mild November night sky. The grades children performed songs, depicting in lovely gestures the story of St. Martin. Mr. Clough captivated all with his telling of St. Martin stories.

The moon was full and bright as we lit the lanterns. Ms. Ursula led the way and off we went on a completely silent lantern walk. This was the first silent–and the most reverent–walk in my experience! What a lovely sight to see the lighted lanterns silently winding their way through field and forest! Picture a full moon, silent and purposeful walking, and only the whispering of leaves under many feet. All went home in silence, and we thank you for that! This festival was a gift. May all of you carry the light within you through the cold, dark nights of winter.


First and Second Grades
The stories of great human beings who have touched the lives of those around them inspire us and remind us of the highest virtues we, too, possess. Martin of Tours, who later became St. Martin, is one example of such a human being. He was forced to join the army against his will, but even as a soldier he found ways to care for those less fortunate than himself. On a cold November day he stopped to help a freezing beggar. He cut his cloak in two and gave half to the beggar. St. Martin went on to become a monk who lived his life in service to the poor and less fortunate.

We celebrate Saint Martin’s deeds with the festival of Martinmas. In this time of year when the nights are growing longer we make lanterns to light our way through the darkness. Our small lanterns illuminate our path and symbolize the flame of kindness and compassion in us all.

Jeremy Clough, First and Second Grade Teacher.

The Spirits of Halloween

This article by Eugene Schwartz gives an explanation of why we try to keep All Hallows’ a scare-free experience for our youngest children. Please read and comment. 


For the younger child, this festival reaffirms the goodness of the world. Eons ago, as they looked upon the mists that wove around their fjords and heaths, ancient Europeans had a particular experience as the days grew shorter. Toward the end of the month that we call October, they perceived the souls of all of those who had died in the past year gathering and preparing to ascend to their heavenly home, making a space for the souls due to be born in the year to come. But before they could assume their place in the ethereal realm, the departed souls had to sweep away all the detritus of the life just past and cast it to the earth. Thus the popular image of witches riding on their broomsticks is a misperception: in reality, the brooms are sweeping away the witches!

At the time when the child is in fourth grade, a sense of human mortality begins to dawn within her. Children of this age are rightfully and healthily drawn to all of the frightful and gruesome aspects of Halloween, and they look forward with trembling anticipation to visiting a haunted house, watching an horrific form arise out of a swamp, or, if only through a well-told story, being scared out of their senses!

For the younger child, however, the situation is different. The spirits and creatures with whom the younger child communes are not those created by human error, but rather those in whom the innocent and wise powers of Nature reside: gnomes and undines, fairies and elves, the spirits of stones and streams, sun and wind. For young children to be exposed only to the dark and demonic qualities of Halloween is to deny the unspoken conviction that they carry in their souls that the world is good.

— Eugene Schwartz

Ten Beautiful Mornings with Your Child

0DEM0537In honor of our Ashwood Waldorf School’s upcoming Parent-Child classes, we offer you this quote from the 19th-century American humorist, Josh Billings:

“To bring up your child in the way he should go, travel that way yourself once in awhile.”

We think our Parent-Child Classes offer the perfect way to “travel that way yourself.” For 10 beautiful mornings this fall, join a group of dynamic parents, their young children (18–36 months) and Ashwood’s veteran early childhood educator and awesome Waldorf mom, Cherry Short-Lee.

The children engage in creative play while parents may engage in child-led play or work on a craft project, help with snack, or discuss a reading on an aspect of parenting with Miss Cherry and other thoughtful parents.

The morning ends with a walk through the woods and time to climb and swing on our playground. A goodbye circle completes the morning.

Ashwood’s Parent-Child program nurtures the whole family and provides a bridge from home to school. When ready, the young child may transition to the mixed-age Early Childhood classroom.

Parent-Child 2013-14 Schedule

  • Weekly on Thursdays, September 19–November 21
  • Weekly Thursdays, January 9–March 20 (with no session on February 20)

For more information or to receive an application form, please contact the enrollment director at 207-236-8021 or


First Day of Summer Camp 2013