By Astrea Ravenstar
Steiner Lower School Chair

“We can find nature outside us only if we have first learned to know her within us. What is akin to her within us must be our guide. This marks out our path of enquiry."

— Rudolf Steiner

Beginning this September, Rudolf Steiner School is launching its very first outdoor Forest Kindergarten Program for children 4-6 years of age in Central Park. Located less than a block from Central Park’s Cedar Hill, Rudolf Steiner School in the Upper East Side neighborhood is the ideal location for such a program where children will spend their morning enjoying the wonders of nature as they engage in free play, outdoor seasonal crafts, woodworking, finger-knitting, circle songs and games, snack, and story. In the afternoons or during extreme weather, the school building is just a short walk away where a hearty lunch will be served and the children can rest and participate in many of the indoor experiences that the Waldorf Kindergarten is known for – watercolor painting, baking, sewing, woodworking, drawing, puppet shows, story, and clean-up.

Now in its 95th year, Rudolf Steiner School is expanding its programming to enhance an already successful Parent Child Class that takes place in Central Park. Students in preschool through grade 12 use the park for recess, for games, for art lessons, and for science observations. It is a natural leap to open a Forest Kindergarten and to offer a more immersive experience to its students.

Forest Kindergartens have been sprouting up all over the world since the 1950s, but have become commonplace amongst Waldorf Schools in North America, an education that already places value in strengthening students’ connection to the natural world from immersive learning experiences to the all-natural materials used inside the classrooms.


In many ways, the Forest Kindergarten is the best of both worlds – an immersive experience in nature coupled with the strong foundation of Rudolf Steiner School’s long history of Early Childhood education that prepares children for the rigors of academic learning through movement, pre-literacy skills, fine and gross motor development, and social connections. Reflecting on the Forest Kindergarten at my previous school, I have seen the many benefits of a nature-based kindergarten over many years and in all seasons. Being outdoors and having the experience of climbing on rocks or splashing in puddles is not only a delightful balance to life in the city, but strengthens proprioceptive learning to build new neural pathways for the developing child. It is a foundation for scientific inquiry in later years through experience and direct knowledge. This is how children learn best –and they love it!

Rudolf Steiner School offers a human-centered education from Parent-Child classes to grade 12. The Waldorf curriculum reflects the developmental stages of childhood and serves the capacities and talents of each growing child. The school gives special emphasis to sensory experience and physical movement, to an alliance between artistic and intellectual activity, and to the ethical dimension of every subject. Graduates are inventive thinkers and resilient idealists who cultivate an appreciative regard for a world that they seek to improve.

To learn more about the Forest Kindergarten or other programs from birth – grade 12, visit: www.steiner.edu or email admissions@steiner.edu.