We believe that play is the serious work of childhood.

Play is who we are.

At Acorn Hill Waldorf Kindergarten & Nursery, we strive to encourage and protect the sense of wonder and gratitude nourishing the child’s imagination, and to provide a warmth-filled place to work, play and create. We believe that play is the serious work of childhood, and that learning by doing provides the foundation for critical thinking, problem solving and a lifelong enthusiasm for knowledge. Developed by Rudolf Steiner in 1919, Waldorf Education is based on a developmental approach that addresses the needs of the growing child. Waldorf teachers strive to transform education into an art that educates the whole child—the heart and the hands, as well as the head.

Our Mission

To nurture healthy development in young children through Waldorf education in a natural environment and inclusive community

Our Vision

To inspire children and families to engage the world with joy, kindness, and imagination, helping to build a compassionate and equitable society

Our Beginnings

The seed which was to become Acorn Hill was planted in the 1950s and early 1960s by a small but dedicated group of individuals wishing to found a Waldorf school in the Washington, D.C. area. In 1964, Acorn Hill opened its doors to five children in the basement of a house situated on a small knoll with a large oak tree in the front yard—hence our name. Today we find ourselves on a somewhat larger hill where gathering acorns is a favorite autumn activity!

As a Waldorf School and member of the Waldorf Early Childhood Association, Acorn Hill is part of a world-wide educational movement of over 800 schools whose work is based on the insights of Rudolf Steiner, and whose central aim is to stimulate the healthy development of the child’s own imagination.

We let children be children!

Acorn Hill brings about recognition and understanding of all the world’s cultures and religions. We are based on a belief that there is a spiritual dimension to the human being and to all of life. Waldorf families come from a broad spectrum of religious traditions and interests.

Education tends to focuses on the intellectual aspect of the human being and may ignore several other parts that are essential to our well-being. These include our life of feeling (emotions, aesthetics, and social sensitivity), our willpower (the ability to get things done), and our moral nature (being clear about right and wrong). 

We believe that media and screen time hamper the development of the child’s imagination, therefore no electronic media of any kind is used in our curriculum. Instead, our pre-academic programs nurture imitative and imaginative play, social and physical activity, and an appreciation for beauty and nature. The programs endow children with a strong sense of self and a platform for success in later academic pursuits by building sound logical reasoning, mental capabilities and a reverence for life. We let children be children!

Learn more about our pedagogy

The Value of Child-Initiated Play

The early childhood curriculum at Acorn Hill is not only play-based, it is focused on child-initiated play. While many of us instinctively appreciate the importance of play to young children’s healthy development, the critical role of imaginative free play for learning in young children has now been scientifically established. Research shows that children who engage in complex forms of socio-dramatic play have greater language skills, better social skills, more empathy, more imagination, and more of the subtle capacity to know what others mean. They are less aggressive and show more self-control and higher levels of thinking.

Foundational Skills

The outdoor classrooms at Acorn Hill provide an environment that encourages children to initiate play and learn by freely exploring the world around them, which in turn nurtures self-education and self-regulation skills. Our teachers support this process by tuning into each individual child’s play and helping him or her build on it by providing materials, new ideas and support to overcome obstacles. In this way, the teacher is always supporting the growth of each child with the methods best suited to the individual.

The activities in a Waldorf kindergarten and nursery all work to strengthen the primary senses and encourage physical, social, emotional and intellectual development through free play, rhythmic physical games, art such as painting and woodworking, acting out stories, and participation in chores and daily activities such as setting the table, kneading bread dough and preparing snack. The Waldorf early childhood curriculum at Acorn Hill builds foundational skills required for future academic learning. Sequencing, sensory integration, eye-hand coordination tracking, language development, active listening skills, creative storytelling and the love of learning are all fostered in the nursery and kindergarten.