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Acorn Hill Waldorf Kindergarten & Nursery

9504 Brunett Avenue
Silver Spring, MD 20901

(301) 565-2282


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Philosophy & Approach

School Philosophy

General Approach to Learning: Play-Based, Waldorf

From the Director:

Waldorf education is based on the unique pedagogical insights and philosophy of Rudolf Steiner. The pedagogy is oriented to developmental stages and brings age-appropriate content, which engages and challenges the students�?? growing and changing capacities. At Acorn Hill we seek to support and encourage the holistic and integrated development of each human being�??s unique creative potential.

Curriculum & Teaching Approach

Learning Philosophy & Tools

  Play- based mostly teacher led not formally in curriculum conducive environment
Oral language  
Nursery rhymes, poems, songs  
Storybook reading  
Emerging literacy skills  
Cognitive development
Math & number sense
Time & space
Sci. reasoning/physical world
Music more

More Information

  • Musical instruments
Visual arts more

More Information

  • Materials such as paint, ink, paintbrushes, crayons, markers, chalk, paper, etc.
Physical activity more

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  • A playground with climbing equipment
  • Bean bags, balls, and other objects that children can throw, kick, and play
  • Enough room for children to move around and play and a suitable indoor alternative to the outdoor playground on rainy days
  • Sandboxes and/or water stations for play
Other subjects taught painting, modelling, sewing, finger-knitting, baking, cooking, gardening, woodworking

From the Director:

Kindergarten mixed-age and Pre-K classes are play-based programs with pre-academic activities that provide a solid and integrated base for academic work in the grades. Play is the young child�??s natural way to develop physically and socially. Child-directed play activity also strengthens imagination and attention span. Artistic work such as wet-on-wet painting, sculpting with beeswax, puppetry, stories, circle songs and movements, crafts, and handwork are integrated into our classroom routines. This gives students opportunities to develop their imaginative capacity and bring it to expression in an inspiring, challenging, and tangible way that also cultures a sense of self-discipline. We educate �??head, heart and hands.�?? We value real work and �??process over product�?? in our activities with the children. For example, in the fall we thresh and grind wheat to make the flour for our harvest celebration, sharing our first loaf with parents. In the spring we plant dish gardens with wheat berries or grass, which children water and watch grow. Children learn about things tangibly and in a way that is connected to sensory experiences. They feel the living rhythm of the day, the week, the seasons and the year. Tasks also have a beginning, middle, and end, and children become competent in life skills. Waldorf education cultivates strong social connections within and between classes in both students and parents alike, as well as a commitment to respecting diverse cultures. Waldorf education views human beings and the natural world as interwoven expressions of spiritual realities, culturing respect and responsibility for the earth, which provides sustenance for us all.

Quality of Teaching

Individualized Teaching: From the Director

As Waldorf educators, we want to encourage and protect the sense of wonder and gratitude nourishing the child�??s imagination and provide a warmth-filled place to work, play, and create. We believe that the young child�??s capacities for creative thinking are developed through the healthy activities we provide. Our educational goal is to help develop individuals with inquiring minds, with an interest in and reverence for the world and fellow human beings, and a love of learning that will last all their lives.

Each teacher works with the child and his or her parents, identifying, addressing and meeting concerns and goals. Teachers are available to parents for telephone and in-person conferences as needed. Teachers hold at minimum 2 conferences and 2 class meetings for parents annually.

Day in the Life

General School Mission

"Our school and its diverse community provide an oasis to fully and freely develop the capacities of each child. Since its founding in 1964, the teaching and curriculum have emphasized the healthy development of the heart, body and mind through imaginative play, meaningful work and expressive arts in a natural environment. We see in Waldorf Education the opportunity to build a better society.
Acorn Hill will send forth children nurtured by truth, beauty, and goodness so they can meet society with bold thinking, self confidence and social responsibility."
Excerpted from the preschool's website

A Typical Day

When you enter an Acorn Hill classroom, you may see three or four children building a castle with wood and cloth, two or three arranging to take a busload of others on an overland journey, some children engaged in doll and house play, and still others putting on a puppet play for several other classmates. It is through their play that children begin to develop the social skills of problem solving, taking turns, working with others toward a common goal and inner flexibility. The teachers have set up a daily activity such as painting, baking, or crafts and are guiding the play.

After the bustle of free play, the teachers gather the children together for the more focused circle time in which all are engaged in rhythmic games, songs, and verses that have a seasonal theme. The circle material is carefully chosen and presented several times, giving the children the opportunity to learn through imitation and develop listening and language skills. After this the children spend time outside engaged in vigorous play on our extensive wooded playground.

Our morning closes with the children coming together inside to hear a story or puppet play. Stories and puppet plays are told a number of times, so the children become thoroughly familiar with them. In this way their memory is developed, along with a sense for the beauty and expressiveness of language as it appears in fairy tales, folk tales, and nature stories.

Home-School Connection

Home-School Connection: From the Director

Annual Open House
annual home visit
2 parent teacher conferences each year
2 or more parent class meetings each year
3 class festivals for parents
3-4 school-wide adult education events annually
annual student evaluations

Parents Say They are Encouraged to:

  • Sit on the board of trustees
  • Hold social events at the school to build community
  • Fundraise
  • Are required to make donations ourselves
  • Are able to visit the school anytime we want
  • Go on field trips
  • Volunteer in the classroom
  • Receive newsletters

Modes of Communication

  • Notes
  • Phone Calls
  • Voice Mail
  • Email
  • Special Meetings
  • Two or More Regular Conferences
  • Drop-Off
  • Pick-Up
  • Regular newsletter/printed updates circulated to the whole school


Separation is Handled through:

  • Home visits by teachers
  • Pre-entry meetings with parents at school
  • Extra staff dedicated to handle separation

Handling Separation: From the Director

Teachers use many approaches to handle separation anxiety. The school year begins with the Open House, to which parents and students attend. Each teacher makes an annual home visit, in the late summer before the school year begins.

At the beginning of each year, classrooms have extra staff on hand as needed.

Separation issues and concerns are identified by parents before the school year begins, and an individual plan is developed between teacher and parents. This may include the parent attending the first few classes with the child, or remaining for a portion of the start of each morning.