Prairie Moon Waldorf School features MayFest this weekend, upcoming “Four Elements” day camp

Arrive at a Waldorf school and you are likely to see children woodworking, knitting, singing, acting out ancient myths, cooperatively working in groups on meaningful tasks such as gardening, or freely playing outdoors.

Waldorf education, a nature-based, “whole child” approach to schooling, turns 100 years old this year, and has been steadily growing in popularity in recent years in this area. This weekend and throughout the summer, Lawrence’s Prairie Moon Waldorf School will offer a series of opportunities for families to explore Waldorf, starting with a “MayFest” event this coming Saturday, May 4 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and continuing with a number of day-camp sessions throughout the summer.

Prairie Moon, located about 5 minutes from the East Lawrence I-70 exit at 1853 E. 1600 Rd., is one of more than 1,000 Waldorf schools worldwide and is the only Waldorf school in Kansas. It is currently in its 13th school year, with nearly 90 students from pre-K through 8th grade. Two years ago the school expanded to include an early-childhood site nearby at 1924 E. 1600 Rd.

This weekend’s MayFest event, located at the original campus, features student musical performances and a Maypole dance at 10:15 a.m., a community Maypole dance at 10:30 a.m. (visitors welcome to participate), a children’s puppet show at 11 a.m., crafts such as flower-crown making, games, and food.

For those interested in exploring Waldorf further, Prairie Moon will offer a series of day camps this summer. The lineup includes a “Four Elements” nature camp July 8-19 (two 5-day sessions) for incoming grades 2-5, which will provide a chance for children to explore hands-on the elements of fire, water, air and earth; a “Fairy Tales and Forest Trails” camp June 3-14 for incoming grades 1-3; and summer-long options for the youngest students. Details are available at https://www.prairiemoon.org/summer-camp.

Since 1919, the broad-based Waldorf curriculum, developed by Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner, has emphasized the concept of “head, hands and heart,” seeking to promote a balance of physical, mental, and spiritual well-being in students. By emphasizing the whole child, Waldorf education seeks to foster individuals who are motivated to serve humanity with strength of will, depth of feeling, clarity of thought, and the ability to work with others.

Waldorf also emphasizes the natural world and the rhythm of the changing seasons, with its corresponding community celebrations such as MayFest.