Steiner Waldorf Education

In the Waldorf philosophy, play is the work of the young child. Constructive play is a deeply serious business; it is how the child makes sense of the world. Long periods of indoor and outdoor play and “beautiful tools” made from natural and unformed materials, challenge the child to transform and create again and again.

The three Rs in a Waldorf preschool are Reverence (for others and the world around us), Repetition, and Rhythm. A daily rhythm alternates carefully between expanding and contracting activities. Just as a child lives in
a rhythmical life of waking and sleeping, we also
work with a
regular rhythm for our mornings and weekly
activities: music and
verse, accompanied by movement
 gesture; stories; practical
 activities of gardening, baking, sewing, washing and cleaning; artistic
 activities of drawing, water colour painting and nature crafts
are all
experienced with
joy and enthusiasm.

Our rhythm allows the children to expand
out into
the world through play and then come together for a more focused artistic activity, morning circle or story time. This rhythm brings a feeling of well-being and
joy, a balance
between playing out of their own initiative and working together
 others. This daily and weekly rhythm
into the wider rhythm
of the year with its
 changing seasons and festivals.

Although the children are not taught to read and write, readiness activities for such are part of the curriculum. Through poems, stories, nursery rhymes, finger games and songs the children develop their abilities to speak and listen, develop a sense for the beauty of language and expand their vocabularies. Listening to stories, watching puppet shows, and participation in dramatic play strengthen the power of memory and the imagination. Similarly, counting games and rhythmic activities build a solid foundation for arithmetic and number skills, while the various practical tasks help children develop co-ordination and the ability to concentrate.

The seasons and festivals of the year color the mood of the playschool and form the basis for songs, poems, games, and finger play in the circle. The storytelling and puppet shows at the end of the day also reflect this seasonal mood.

By strengthening the imagination, by cultivating a sense of wonder and by developing the child’s enthusiasm for work, we strive “to develop free human beings, who are of themselves able to impart purpose and direction to their lives.”




Developed by Rudolf Steiner in 1919, Waldorf Education is based on a profound understanding of human development that addresses the needs of the growing child. Waldorf teachers strive to transform education into an art that educates the whole child—the heart and the hands, as well as the head.

When you enter a Waldorf school, the first thing you may notice is the care given to the building. The walls are usually painted in lively colors and are adorned with student artwork. Evidence of student activity is everywhere to be found and every desk holds a uniquely created main lesson book.

When children relate what they learn to their own experience, they are interested and alive, and what they learn becomes their own. Waldorf schools are designed to foster this kind of learning.”
Henry Barnes, a longtime Waldorf teacher and the former Chairman of the Board of AWSNA

Another first impression may be the enthusiasm and commitment of the teachers you meet. These teachers are interested in the students as individuals. They are interested in the questions:

  • How do we establish within each child his or her own high level of academic excellence?
  • How do we call forth enthusiasm for learning and work, a healthy self-awareness, interest and concern for fellow human beings, and a respect for the world?
  • How can we help pupils find meaning in their lives?

Teachers in Waldorf schools are dedicated to generating an inner enthusiasm for learning within every child. They achieve this in a variety of ways. Even seemingly dry and academic subjects are presented in a pictorial and dynamic manner. This eliminates the need for competitive testing, academic placement, and behavioristic rewards to motivate learning. It allows motivation to arise from within and helps engender the capacity for joyful lifelong learning.

The Waldorf curriculum is broad and comprehensive, structured to respond to the three developmental phases of childhood: from birth to approximately 6 or 7 years, from 7 to 14 years and from 14 to 18 years. Rudolf Steiner stressed to teachers that the best way to provide meaningful support for the child is to comprehend these phases fully and to bring “age appropriate” content to the children that nourishes healthy growth.

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