Institute for Early Learning Through the Arts | Wolf Trap
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Institute for Early Learning Through the Arts

Wolf Trap Institute for Early Learning Through the Arts—the flagship education program of Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts—supports over 100,000 children and early childhood educators across the nation and around the world.

Joyful, active learning through the arts

Arts integration can inspire children with a lifelong love of learning and of the performing arts. When you bring the arts into the classroom, you create joyful, active learning experiences that engage children in ways that can increase academic and social-emotional development for all kinds of learners.

Wolf Trap Institute’s professional development empowers infant, toddler, preschool, and kindergarten teachers to integrate the performing arts into their classrooms. For more than 35 years, Wolf Trap has worked with early childhood educators across the country to provide the training and tools they need to use the arts to teach and inspire.

 “The Wolf Trap method is the golden key to engaging a child’s curiosity and imagination in a focused, fresh, and fun manner.”
-Joy Jimenez, Wolf Trap Teaching Artist, San Antonio, TX

Proven results for children and teachers across the nation

Independent research shows that Wolf Trap Institute’s approach leads to improved student preparedness and teacher professional growth, including:

Illustration of a standardized testHigher standardized test scores
Children who participated in a Wolf Trap program scored significantly higher on standardized tests measuring initiative, language, logic, and other key skills.

Illustration of two speech bubbles to represent language developmentIncreased language development
Children whose teachers participated in a multi-year Wolf Trap program showed improvements in language development, particularly African-American students and English Language Learners from low-income communities.

Illustration of a tabletEnhanced 21st-century skills
Head Start students whose teachers participated in a Wolf Trap Institute program performed better than their peers in science and technology and made gains in their social and emotional development.

Illustration of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division symbols34 days of extra learning in math
Students in Wolf Trap classrooms gained the equivalent of 34 days of math learning after one year of the program.

Illustration of a teacher standing at a white board Improved teacher practice
92% of participating Wolf Trap teachers felt more creative and confident in their abilities to integrate the arts across the curriculum.

The Wolf Trap Institute approach

Wolf Trap Institute embraces active learning with children and educators through high-quality professional development. We start by training professional performing artists in early childhood development and curriculum. Our Teaching Artists then work with teachers in their classrooms—sharing arts integration strategies, developing lesson plans, and interacting with children.
Diagram showing Wolf Trap Institute approach to arts integration professional development
Wolf Trap Institute provides hands-on professional development in schools. During classroom residencies, Teaching Artists work directly with educators and their students. Teaching Artists demonstrate best practices in arts integration and coach teachers as they lead arts-based lessons. This collaborative, hands-on approach ensures that teachers receive effective training for using the arts in their classrooms. 

It’s not about giving teachers a new curriculum, though. Wolf Trap’s early childhood professional development programs align with teachers’ goals and curriculum requirements. Our Teaching Artists work side-by-side with teachers to develop content and refine lesson plans and techniques that meet the needs of each teacher and classroom. 

Wolf Trap offers a sustainable model for continued high-quality early childhood education, as Institute-trained educators become confident in their ability to use arts-integrated learning strategies in every facet of their classrooms.

Learning and practicing new arts strategies in their classrooms means early childhood educators can see an immediate impact on their students and feel empowered to apply those skills in current and future lessons. 

“The children are singing and using chants they learned in the Wolf Trap residency—and that tells me that it’s making a huge impact on them.”
-Kalpana Kumar Sharma, Pre-Kindergarten Teacher, DC Public Schools


Wolf Trap’s approach is based on respected early childhood, professional development, and arts integration research—and this foundation has led to proven, positive outcomes for children and educators. Because we are committed to improving children’s learning, we continually monitor and evaluate our programs, making enhancements wherever possible.

Arts in early childhood beyond the classroom

Wolf Trap Institute programs extend beyond the classroom for children, families, and educators across the country, including:

  • Photo depicting early childhood arts experiences outside of the classroomHigh-quality professional development workshops and customizable trainings
  • Hands-on family-involvement workshops
  • Baby ArtsPlay!TM programs for children under three
  • Performances and workshops at Children’s Theatre-in-the-Woods
  • Free digital resources for educators


    Arts education around the world

    Photo of a Wolf Trap Teaching Artist surrounded by students in IndiaThe arts are a universal language, and Wolf Trap Institute brings arts integration programs into early childhood classrooms around the world. We have partnered with education and arts organizations in Singapore, Hong Kong, India, Australia, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Jamaica, and throughout Europe.