Early Childhood AT BWS
At Berkshire Waldorf School, learning begins with rich sensory experiences and play-based education that honor your young child’s developmental readiness and innate potential. We offer Early Childhood programs for children from Toddler through the last year of Kindergarten, with the comfort of knowing that–in partnership with the Berkshire Waldorf High School–we can offer Waldorf Education for your child from cradle to college.
Learning by Doing
Children innately learn through play, action and imitation, so our Early Childhood program offers them play-based learning, with “child-activated” natural playthings, stories, songs and movement. Learning by doing teaches collaboration, enhances creativity and strengthens each child’s love of learning and doing, caring for the world, themselves and each other.
Each Early Childhood class has a designated outdoor classroom: climbing trees, sandboxes, the Hairy Beary Woods, Tree Island, surrounding gardens, fields and streams, all changing through four seasons of the Berkshire year.
Homelike indoor classrooms, filled with color and the fragrance of baking bread, or soup (which the children help to make with vegetables from our biodynamic garden), appeal to all their senses. The dependable rhythm of the day nurtures your child’s self-esteem, and creates a natural bridge from home to school.
Unique to Waldorf Education
Children typically spend two years in Kindergarten, and depending on when your child enters school, they may stay with their same class and teacher for several years. (See below for class details.) The sensory richness, collaborative play and satisfying work of Early Childhood bridge to abstract learning in First Grade, for children who will turn 6 by September 1, 2023.
How to Apply
There are a few remaining spots in Kindergarten for the 2022-23 school year (rolling applications reopen October 1), and we welcome your application for Fall 2023, starting November 1, 2022. Sliding-scale tuition, based on your family’s income, is available. Our Early Childhood programs run during the school year, September through June. Berkshire Waldorf Summer (planned for reopening Summer 2023) offers Waldorf-inspired summer day programs for young children, starting at age 4. For more information, call Admissions Director Robyn Coe at 413-528-4015, ext. 106, or visit us for a school tour or family event.
Early Childhood Faculty
Not pictured: Rebecca Ruof, Star Room Nursery Lead Teacher
Early Childhood Classes at BWS
Children who are 18 months old by September 1, 2022 are eligible for morning or day school at Berkshire Waldorf School. We offer Toddler Nursery (18 months through 2.8 years), Nursery (2.9 years old through age 4) and mixed-age Kindergarten classes (for children who are turning 5 or 6 during the school year). We have one Toddler Nursery, for 8 children; two Nurseries, with room for 12 children in each class; and three Kindergartens, with room for 14 children in each class. Each Early Childhood class has a Lead Teacher and an Assistant Teacher. We also have department-wide assistants who help throughout the classes, as needed.
The Early Childhood School Day
In Early Childhood, morning classes start at 8:15 a.m. and end at noon; full day classes extend until 2:45 p.m., and include lunchtime, rest time and an additional outside play time. Extended Care is available until 5:15 p.m., for an additional fee.
Early Childhood classes create a special community snack every morning. Children bring their own lunch if they stay for the full day.
For Children Turning 6 During Their Kindergarten Year
We strongly encourage families with children who will turn 6 during the school year or the following summer to attend our program for 5 Full Days in order to best prepare for First Grade the following Fall. However, if you choose not to enroll your child for 5 Full Days, we will automatically enroll them in our Spring “First Grade Ready Fridays” program, starting after Spring Break, for a nominal additional cost. This special Friday program takes place in the last weeks of school during rest time, and is exclusively for rising First Grade-aged children. Group activities with their future classmates are designed to prepare them for the next phase of their education.
Starting Your Child’s Education at BWS
Head over to our Admissions page, and click on your child’s program link to create an account and begin an inquiry in our parent portal. That will make it easy for us to keep you posted about events, visiting days and important admissions deadlines. As part of your application, we also ask for a Teacher’s Reference, if your child has already been in a school or daycare program. Once we receive all your application materials, we’ll arrange an opportunity for your family to meet with one or two of our Early Childhood teachers, and complete a tour of our facilities, if you haven’t done that prior to applying. Once we complete the admissions process, if you choose to enroll your little one, teachers will determine class placement based on the best developmental fit for your individual child, within the constellation of the group.
If You Want to Start with Your Child 😉
Parent-Child Garden classes for children 4 months to 4 years old with a parent or guardian take place on campus year-round, in partnership with teacher Somer Serpe of Harmonious Child.