Waldorf or Rudolf Steiner education is a unique form of education which is based on the view that the human being is a being of body, soul and spirit.

The Waldorf School aims to educate “the heart, the hands and the head,” in theory allowing a child to develop as a whole person.

Waldorf philosophy is based upon the belief that children learn different things best at certain stages of development when their spirituality, intellect and physical capabilities are in tune with the information presented to them. For example, unlike traditional kindergartens Waldorf kindergarteners are not taught to read. Instead they are taught poetry, stories and folk legends which are the foundation for developing reading skills according to the Waldorf philosophy. Children are not exposed to the written language until the age of six or seven. Children that are emerging into adolescence are presented with Ancient Greek and Roman history because of the belief that adolescences face intense inner turmoil and conflict. The Greek and Roman theme is in harmony with this change.

The Waldorf education is highly attuned to the developmental needs of children at specific ages. However, the curriculum for children involves equal instruction in the arts, music, foreign language and academics as opposed to a focus on academics with brief “specials” in traditional education.

Above all, the Waldorf philosophy of education places a strong emphasis on non competition, respect for nature and other human beings. Children are strongly encouraged to develop their creativity to the fullest and to think for themselves critically as individuals. The Waldorf education also maintains that children need plenty of time to move around and play.

The best overall statement on what is unique about Waldorf education is to be found in the stated goals of the schooling: "to produce individuals who are able, in and of themselves, to impart meaning to their lives".

The main thing in the Waldorf kindergarten is that we create an environment in which children can play creatively. Children who play in the strongest and most creative way are also the students who become the best scholars later on and the most well-balanced people. It may seem strange to put such an emphasis on something as simple and basic as “play”, but because it is basic to the life of every child it needs to be fed and nurtured.

During the first seven years the child is totally open to all experiences in his or her surroundings. All experiences are absorbed deeply. The child absorbs everything in his environment without a sophisticated capacity for distinguishing good from bad, helpful from harmful. Therefore it is a big priority that the child is in an environment as natural and supporting as possible.

So that growth can occur in the most efficient and unhindered way possible, conscious care is required regarding the colors, the sounds, the playthings, and the human surroundings of the child. The idea that a modern child should adapt immediately to everything ignores completely the laws of development.

Read more about Rudolf Steiner and the Waldorf philosophy here: