The First Three Years: Classes for Parents and Children

Fall Session is September 14-November 21 

Becoming a parent can be one of the most transformative experiences of our adult lives, affording an opportunity to examine our own values and beliefs, relationships and ways of being in the world.  It is out of respect for this immense potential for growth in both parents and children that our classes are designed to enrich the lives of children, their parents and caregivers. 

Informed by Rudolf Steiner’s insights, as well as modern research on early childhood, we meet in a warm, homelike setting or in a beautiful outdoor spot, and together create an oasis of joy and calm for parents/guardians and children alike.  Each class starts with a simple circle time, drawing from the seasons and world of nursery rhymes, which sets an ideal mood for imaginative play and exploration. 

The first class families take with us is a Child Observation class; Work and Play classes come next, providing an opportunity to deepen the mood, principles and practices introduced in the Observation class.

Classes meet once a week for a ten-week session following the SFWS calendar and are led by experienced Waldorf early childhood educators who care deeply about supporting each parent/guardian and child on their own individual journey. Our classes take place at our grade school campus and in the historic of the nearby Swedenborgian Church at 2107 Lyon Street and are for parents/guardians and their children up to age three.

General Class Descriptions
For a one page flyer with Fall 2015 classes including times, locations and fees,
please click here (pdf) or just go right to our registration site.

  • Babies Observation Classes
    Birth to walking

    Babies lie on a soft blanket where they watch what interests them or move around to reach the objects in the room. Their little bodies are busy at work following “nature’s agenda.” After a lavender foot massage for the babies, parents sit in a circle and begin a practice of quiet observation eventually building up to fifteen minutes or more. What do our children need from us? What do they need from their environment? How can we support and respect our child’s development? Insights are shared and weekly readings are explored in a spirit of mutual respect. We sing lullabies and seasonal songs at every class, warm snack and tea are served for parents, and a nurturing atmosphere welcomes and surrounds parents and babies alike.
  • Toddler Observation Classes
    Young Toddlers (walking-18 months) or Older Toddlers (18-24 months)
    Parents of toddlers spend most of their days attempting to keep up with the almost constant motion and energy that marks this stage of development. Both experience joy and support when the adults bring their calm and focused attention to the children during a period of quiet observation. This practice is introduced in our first class and gradually builds up to longer periods of child-led play and observation by parents, who provide gentle support and guidance as needed. New techniques of providing support are presented and experienced over time, such as the benefits of a consistent rhythm, freedom of movement, imaginative play and care and protection of the developing senses. We enjoy a morning circle of simple songs and rhymes, free play and observation, and discuss a weekly reading. A warm snack and tea will be served.
  • Work and Play – Exploring Together in Nature
    This class provides a living experience of the benefits of quiet observation and free play in an outdoor setting. Insights and clarity are gained and parents and children become more comfortable being outdoors in all kinds of weather. Come explore with us this Fall and enjoy the wonder and beauty of nature as we journey through sand, fields, and forests. Seasonal songs and rhymes, along with weekly readings and discussion, complement our experience. At the end of each class we will come together for a spot of tea and a simple, wholesome snack (provided). Class meets at various scenic locations around San Francisco.
  • Work and Play – The Knitted Farm Yard
    This class inspires parents to create a special playable landscape scene. Yours can be as simple or as complex as you’d like! Almost everything we make in this class will be hand knit. Imagine a hand knit “blanket” of fields, streams, forests and farms with knit and sewn farm animals. Basic knitting instruction provided but bring your imagination! We will enjoy a short seasonal circle with songs and rhymes, outside play and snack with song and rhyme and the children play while mom or dad works quietly or enjoys conversation with other parents. 
  • Work and Play – Cooking with Children
    Including children in meal preparation and the work of the home encourages their new and emerging capacities, strengthens family relationships and supports healthy eating habits. We will make a hearty soup each week accompanied by a variety of sweet and savory breads. Meals are planned according to the seasons and available harvest of organic ingredients. Along with learning simple rhymes and songs the children will have time to play. Selected readings and recipes will be included. Each class will culminate in our shared meal.


Contact Diana Mei, Director of Parent-Child Program, at:

Please note our enrollment policies before registering:

  • Class fees are non-refundable unless a class is canceled.
  • Class fees are for one adult and one child. Additional participants may be registered for a nominal fee ($50).
  • Participants may withdraw from a class up to two weeks before session starts by contacting the program director A credit towards a future class, minus a $50 administrative fee, will be granted.
  • All guests to our classes (such as a partner, grandparent, or sibling) require advance permission from instructor.
  • Completion of an Observation class is a prerequisite for a Work and Play class.
  • Observation classes are divided by age; Work and Play classes are mixed age.
  • A cargiver or relative may register as the primary or as a second adult.
  • We offer three ten-week sessions per year. Some classes are shorter due to school holidays or limitations of space and staff.
  • We follow the SFWS school calendar with the accordant holidays.
  • We warmly welcome all families including prospective, adoptive, foster, single-parent and LGBTQ families.