Experiencing nature in ongoing, unregulated, direct ways offers children irreplaceable opportunities for exploring and discovering, for creating and developing their personalities and identities, for probing and testing the margins of their world. Direct, often spontaneous contact with nature appears to constitute an irreplaceable core for healthy childhood growth and development.
— Dr. Stephen R. Kellert, Professor Emeritus of Social Ecology and Senior Research Scholar at the Yale University School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.
Ashwood’s mixed-age kindergarten lays a strong foundation for literacy and intellectual growth, and provides a unique opportunity for children ages 3-6 to explore nature fully and learn to know it well. They thrive outdoors in our welcoming play yard with its gardens, deep sand pit, shovels, and wheelbarrows, and joyfully explore the wooded trails that traverse our beautiful, 30+-acre campus.
Imaginative play, purposeful movement, and social and artistic activities support and enhance early development. Our nurturing faculty provide space and time for young children to grow, explore, and discover the world. Creative play develops a foundation for concentration, coordination, language, and number skills. The children enjoy group circle activities that feature seasonal songs, nursery rhymes, and finger plays. The rich language of storytelling is enlivened by handmade puppets, inspiring the children to retell favorite stories and enact their own plays.
Each day, the children help to prepare a snack made with nutritious, mostly organic and local whole foods and herbal teas. Child-sized cups, cloth napkins, and a natural centerpiece grace the table, which the children set themselves. At cleanup time, everyone helps to put the room in order.
In the Waldorf mixed-age kindergarten, young children acquire the confidence and discipline they will need for the challenging academic work of grade school.