Understanding the Steiner Waldorf Approach: Early Years Education in Practice

Understanding the Steiner Waldorf Approach: Early Years Education in Practice

Understanding the Steiner Waldorf Approach: Early Years Education in Practice

Understanding the Steiner Waldorf Approach: Early Years Education in Practice


Understanding the Steiner Waldorf Approach is a much needed source of information for those wishing to extend and consolidate their understanding of the Steiner Waldorf High Scope Approach. It will enable the reader to analyse the essential elements of the Steiner Waldorf Approach to early childhood and its relationship to quality early years practice.

Exploring all areas of the curriculum including observation and assessment, child development, play, repetition and the environment, this book:

  • describes the key principles of the Steiner Waldorf approach to early childhood with examples from Steiner settings;
  • provides students and practitioners with the relevant information about a key pedagogical influence on high quality early years practice in the United Kingdom;
  • highlights the key ideas that practitioners should consider when reviewing and reflecting on their own practice;
  • can be used as the basis for continuing professional development and action research

Written to support the work of all those in the field of early years education and childcare, this is a vital text for students, early years and childcare practitioners, teachers, early years professionals, children's centre professionals, lecturers, advisory teachers, head teachers and setting managers.


Rudolf Steiner (1861–1925), in his many lectures and writings, pointed to the need for a spiritual renewal of Western culture, in areas including agriculture, economics, the sciences, religion and the arts, as well as in education, as discussed further in this book. Today there are thousands of schools, farms, clinics and other organisations doing practical work based on his insights. He offered a comprehensive path of spiritual development and research, which he said could contribute to the creation of a more humane world.

For nearly 100 years the unique and unusual education he founded has spread and grown throughout the world. The educational philosophy, which was developed in the first Waldorf School in 1919, was based on the thoughts, ideas and spiritual insights which Steiner gave of the developing human being. Waldorf education is also known as Steiner or Steiner Waldorf education and encompasses the child from pre-birth throughout life. In many countries, particularly in Europe, the day care, kindergartens and schools are fully state funded, and the later school starting date of many countries fits with the later introduction of formal learning which Steiner propounded.

The aim of the approach is to help the child to develop into a morally responsible, free individual, able to fulfil his or her unique destiny. To do this, the focus is on following and extending Steiner’s ideas on the nature of childhood and the development of the growing human being, which, for education purposes in particular, is divided into seven-year periods.

For the first seven years (the years of early childhood), education is taken up with the nurturing of a strong healthy physical body, out of imitation of the practitioner (or kindergarten teacher) in an enabling ‘home like’ environment. This takes place in a pleasant and calm setting, which, in the case of kindergartens, focuses on developing practical life . . .

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