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Trying To Find The Right Rhythm

Garvies Point hosts Waldorf parent-child program

Garvies Point Musuem and Preserve, a place known for its Native American history and artifacts, is now home to the Garden City Waldorf School’s Parent-Child Program. The location is an ideal match since the Waldorf educational philosophy enjoys many parallels with the Native American culture exhibited at the museum. The classes are held in the museum’s interactive exhibit room for children, which features a dugout canoe, a wooden wigwam, woven baskets and a model of a native garden. Since the exhibit encourages creative play with natural materials, it is a perfect fit for the Waldorf program which promotes the same.

One of the interesting features of the program is that it is in truth a parent-child class; parents are learning right alongside the children. Children are encouraged to play cooperatively with their peers, while adults learn to knit nearby. Throughout the program, parents are given advice and tips on how to slow the pace of parenting, how to deal with tantrums and manage technology in our lives. “It’s really nice to get good advice on finding a natural rhythm to our lives,” said Laura Franco of Sea Cliff. “I would say the program is very unique in that way.”

Stephanie Cleary has been a Waldorf early childhood educator for seven years and helped launch the program at Garvies this past September. The idea to offer the program beyond the Garden City campus was born from the desire “to reach families in other communities,” said Cleary. Currently enrolled participants come from Glen Cove, Sea Cliff and East Norwich.

One of the fixtures of the Waldorf early child education is that children are involved in preparing their own healthy organic snack. Following the cooperative play period, children are gently transitioned to the snack area where they can enjoy homemade organic bread, freshly churned butter, apple slices and chamomile tea. The children participate in each stage of the process. They take turns using the child-sized butter churn and at times assist with grinding the wheat.

“Baking bread, churning butter – these are simple activities that my son and I can do together," said East Norwich resident Lisa Breen. "I think many parents spend time entertaining their kids. But here, I love how parents are involving their children with these meaningful activities.”

At the end of each class the children are led on a walk through the nature trails in the preserve. In the coming months as the weather warms, Cleary expects to be able to spend more time outside with more walks down to the beach.

“The beautiful grounds allow the children to connect with nature,” said Cleary. One of the many reasons, she says, “the place felt so right.”