The Institute

Wolf Trap Institute for Early Learning Through the Arts

Shaping the future of children’s learning through the arts

From our beginnings in 1981 as an innovative arts education program of the Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts inspired by our alliance with Head Start, the Institute has grown into an international partner in the early childhood education community. We continue to serve over 10,000 children and adults annually in our home region in the greater Washington, D.C. area, but we partner with school systems and local governments to provide services throughout the United States. Internationally, we have taken Institute programs to locations as far as Jamaica, Singapore, Greece, and Hong Kong.

Wolf Trap Institute for Early Learning Through the Arts prepares our youngest children for a lifetime of learning by empowering teachers to use active, arts-integrated learning strategies in the early childhood classroom. Our professional development offerings align with curriculum standards and best practices for early childhood educators and administrators, childcare providers, and special education and ESL/ELL specialists. Customized to your organization’s curricular focus and needs, they include:


Join an online community of practice. 

We developed this website as an interactive arts portal with the goal of extending and enriching the Institute professional development experience for educators who have received Wolf Trap Institute services. A free membership, offered as a benefit to those who complete workshops and residences, will provide exclusive access to videos, webinars, and other learning materials including lesson plans that will reinforce and build on in-person coaching. Members will be able to interact with Institute Teaching Artists and with each other, and will be able to share their own lessons and materials.

As a service to the early education community, we also provide "public" level registration to the site free of charge for anyone who would like to explore the public domain resources we have developed through our federal funding partnerships, access our research findings and publications, and learn what the Institute has to offer. Our library of free, publicly-available resources will continue to grow and address the most current topics in early childhood education.


Empower your community, anywhere in the world.

Across the country, our network of Affiliate Partnerships replicates the original Institute model of residencies and workshops. Established arts organizations, universities, and arts councils build a long-term partnership with our home office to develop their own Wolf Trap program. Affiliates are backed by the strength of the Institute network through regular meetings and shared trainings and ideas, and support the integrity of the Institute’s mission and goals through their own strong, face-to-face relationships in their communities.