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Waldorf Early Chidhood Education

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“Receive the child in reverence,
Educate the child in love,
Let the child go forth in freedom.”
- Rudolf Steiner-

Waldorf Education
What is Waldorf Education
Waldorf education is a unique and distinctive approach
of education which is responsive to the developmental
phases in childhood and the nurturing of independent
thought and imagination that

encourage creativity

and free thinking. The specific methods used in
Waldorf schools come from the view that the child
develops through a number of basic stages from
childhood to adulthood. The Waldorf curriculum is
specifically designed to work with the child through
these stages of development.
Waldorf education was developed by Rudolf Steiner
(1861-1925) at the beginning of the 20th century. It is
based on Steiner's broader philosophy and teachings,
called anthroposophy (literally, wisdom or knowledge
of man).

Anthroposophy holds that the human being is
fundamentally a spiritual being and that all human
beings deserve respect as the embodiment of their
spiritual nature. This view is carried into Waldorf
education as striving to develop in each child their
innate talents and abilities.

What is Unique about Waldorf Education
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".
That means Waldorf education is intended to enable
students as fully as possible to choose and, in freedom,
to realize their individual path through life as adults.
Educating the Head, Heart and Hands – the
integration of thinking, feeling and willing – is the
signature of Waldorf education. The aim of Waldorf

schooling is to educate the whole child, "head, heart
and hands". The curriculum is as broad as time will
allow, and balances academics subjects with artistic and
practical activities.
The curiosity of childhood has been rewarded and
nurtured into a passion for discovery and learning that
is genuine and internally driven.

Children are immersed in a range of subjects across the







exclusively on intellectual pursuits, but tackle practical,






complements to their academic development.





independent thinking and creative problem solving in
an environment that allows children to become
confident expressing their own ideas.

As children mature and become comfortable with the
essential learning structures provided by a teachercentred approach, they move toward a student (or
individual)-centred approach to learning. In a Waldorf
school children become increasingly free as they
develop. They learn to create solutions to problems
rather than merely to replicate them: to think rather
than memorize. They learn that initiative, not
compliance, is rewarded.

Why Waldorf
Waldorf Education provide the right stimulus at the
right time and allow each child’s abilities to fully
unfold. Waldorf Education is dedicated to awaken the
faculties that lie dormant within each child, thereby
preparing young people to discover within themselves
the strength, enthusiasm, and wisdom to bring out the
best qualities within them.

Key features of Waldorf schooling Methods:
1) All lessons are designed to appeal to the ‘head, heart
and hands’, ie, to reach children through all their
senses. Waldorf schooling aims to educate the “whole”
child. Rudolf Steiner believed that people actually have
twelve senses — the accepted five plus thought,
word/language, warmth, balance, movement, life, and
the individuality of the other/ego.

2) That imagination is the heart of learning permeates
all of Waldorf teaching and learning. Key elements of
the Waldorf teaching method include storytelling,
fantasy-make-believe, art, drama, craft, discussion, the
creation of a personal workbook. Practically this
translates into a school day where the “main lesson”
mostly unfolds with fairy tales, myths and legends,
stories or drama. For example, the study of history
may go beyond reading and writing about an era and
involve performing a play based on the era.

The face-less doll is a standard toy in Waldorf
kindergartens since the teachers believe a simple toy
allows children to use their imagination.

3) Life skills and practical experience such as
woodcarving, sculpting, sewing and gardening are
considered as essential to a complete life experience as
academic subjects. The experience of undertaking a
project whether it requires great dexterity (mastering a
musical instrument) or is a relatively simpler one
(sewing or knitting an item) gives the student a sense
of achievement and helps develops a quiet confidence
to master other more complex skills later in life. For
example, through year-long woodwork projects that
involve activities such carving out of stubborn pieces
of hardwood, filing and sanding, students learn that
the rewards only follow the commensurate amount of
mental, physical, even emotional effort expended.
Every student are encouraged to create and learn new

skills. On the other hand, since technology promises
an experience by which little effort is expended,
Waldorf teachers will veer younger students away from
watching television and discourage exposure to
computers until the eighth grade or later.

4) Waldorf’s chief aim is to encourage a love of
lifelong learning through the use of the arts. The
curriculum is language-rich since storytelling, drama
and poetry are the mainstay of every lesson. A typical
Waldorf school offers several different music classes —
music practice with recorders, a choir, an orchestra. Art
projects are promoted with the purpose of building a
foundation of developing form and technique.
Waldorf educators seek to create a sense of wonder
about each subject. Even the approach to subjects like
math is unique – students may study geometric
progression by doing graphic-art projects.

No textbooks are used from 1st to 4th grades, instead
students make their own books filled with careful
records of field trips, classroom experiments, drawings,
impressions of the teachers’ regular oral presentations
and syntheses of what they have read in primary
sources (at more advanced levels).

5) A fundamental goal of Waldorf schools is to give
youngsters a sense of ethics and to produce individuals
who are able to impart meaning to their lives. Waldorf
schools do not just pay lip service to this goal. Rudolf
Steiner founded the first school a few months after the
end of World War I and he perceived the need for a
new social order and a new sense of ethics: “The need
for imagination, a sense of truth and a feeling of
responsibility — these are the three forces which are
the very nerve of education”, Steiner had said. Each
morning students recite a short Steiner poem that aims
to inspire students about nature and good work.

Teachers avoid reading from books but daily present
oral lessons as topics for open discussion, and to create
a dramatic atmosphere in which the moral principles
involved in a given subject can be not only pondered
but felt. Students may act out, stomping their way
through a poem’. Or they may role-play one of the
characters in a fairy tale of good triumphing over evil.
Waldorf teachers believe that the stories are essential
to the students’ ability to develop a sense of empathy
and their capacity to find meaning in life.

6) Steiner believed that younger children learn
primarily through imitation, that watching and






appropriate skills. The relationship between student
and teacher is regarded as crucial throughout the
course of childhood and early adolescence. In the early
years, the teacher, regarded to be the main source of
learning, stays with the class for the entire eight years

of elementary school. In high school, students are
taught by specialists in each subject. By the time high
school is finished, students are ready to explore and
find their place in and give contribution to the world.

7) Academics (grades and competitive sports) are deemphasized in the early years of schooling. Waldorf is
unusual in that it advocates sending children to first
grade a year later than usual. Waldorf students aren’t
graded on their work until around the seventh grade.
And reading is not taught until 2nd or 3rd grade
(though the letters are introduced in first and second).
Before teaching sound and word recognition, Waldorf
teachers concentrate on exercises such as storytelling
and poetry recitation to build up a child’s love of
language. As one Waldorf teacher put it “talk and play
are the foundation of reading”. Waldorf educators
abhor pushing a child into realism (through premature

reading or denial of fantasy play) which they believe
will cripple the child’s development.

Waldorf Early Childhood Education
A Waldorf early childhood environment is designed to








development. A balanced, holistic approach to the
educational experience sets the stage for children to
gain the necessary knowledge and skills to go forth
into the world with self confidence and responsibility
for their own destiny.
Kindergarten is an extension of the family experience,
an intermediate step for the 3- to-6-year-old between
the home and formal schooling. The goal is to nurture
a sense of wonder and curiosity in the young child,
while encouraging reverence for the goodness of life.

In the loving and creative atmosphere of the
kindergarten, young children acquire the confidence
and discipline they will need for the challenging
academic work of the grade school.

Willing – feeling – thinking
Hands – Heart - Head
In Waldorf education’s view, from birth until age six, a
time when so much physical growth occurs, the
metabolic-limb system dominates as does the activity
of willing or doing (following through). From seven
through thirteen, we are chest-ruled creatures, with
feeling at the forefront of how we engage with the
world. And at puberty, our head and other hardened
parts, such as the intellect, become mature enough to
be put to work. So children progress from being beings
of will (0-6 years) to feeling beings (7-13 years), and
only afterward (from 14 onward) to being able to
begin to really think.

Before seven years, what must be awakened is the will,
via the limbs, beginning with the hands; from seven to
thirteen, the feelings or heart should get a teacher’s
attention; from puberty onward, thinking or the head
comes to the fore. In keeping with this trajectory, the
child’s first interest is in the world’s morality or

goodness, then its beauty, and later on, its truth.
Modes of engagement begin with physical imitation of

what is good, then center mainly on aesthetically





will include


Model of Child Development Used in
Waldorf Education



Lower senses

7 - 14



Middle senses

14 - 21



Higher senses

Waldorf education does not see these modes, interests,
and soul forces as mutually exclusive. Nevertheless, at
certain times, some are thought to be in the forefront
or ripe for educating. Waldorf teachers are attuned to

Twelve senses
Children learn by experiencing the world through their
senses. Rudolf Steiner, the founder of Waldorf
education, spoke not only of the traditional senses,
but 12 senses as being organized into 3 groups of 4.
These senses correlate to those three folded nature of
the human being : thinking, feeling, and willing- that
we strive to maintain in equilibrium to be whole,
grounded individuals. This refer to the education the
head, heart and hands. Further, we can think about the
first group especially as being vital for the human
being to access the higher senses.

In the first seven years of childhood the focus is on
developing the Foundational Senses or the Sense of
Willing, the metabolic limb focus: Touch, Life, Self
Movement and Balance.

In the middle years, years of Feeling, the rhythmical
development focus: Smell, Taste, Sight, Warmth

In the next seven years, years of Thinking, the nerve
sense development focus: Hearing, Word, Thought,

The Lower Senses
The lower senses give us a certain consciousness of our
body. Focus of development of these senses is 0-7
years of age.

Sense of Touch – This sense tells you something about
the object you are touching and your sense of
boundary (tactile). We learn where we end, and where
something else in the world begins.

Sense of Life – This sense allows us to experience our
own constitution, whether we feel well or not.

Appropriate suffering is important. Without these
experiences, we could not develop fully as humans. By
letting our children experience the bruised knee, the
fall off the bike, the toy we will not be buying, the
dessert they have to be waiting for, and sadly, the pet
who died, they learn to handle life’s disappointments

Sense of Movement –Gives us a sense of our joints and
muscles when we move. It is development from
sitting, crawling, walking (proprioception).

Sense of Balance –Gives us our relationship to the
three dimensions of space; above/below, right/left and
front/back (vestibular). Awareness of ones own space,
ability to rest and find stillness. Posture, flexibility and
finding a proper perspective flow from a healthy sense
of balance.

The Middle Senses
These senses give us an experience of the world around
us. Focus of development for these senses is during 714 years of age

Sense of Sight – Through this sense we experience
light, darkness, form, and color. Sense of sight is
connected to the faculty of imagination..

Sense of Smell - Through this sense we experience the
quality of things (odors, scents, aromas, etc) and our
relationship to them. Smelling is related to memory.

Sense of Taste – Digestion begins in the mouth.
Ideally, our sense of taste should teach us what is good
for us. Tongue distinguishes different qualities of

Sense of Warmth– This a two-fold sense, a
temperature sense of hot and cold. We experience
physical temperatures as well as soul warmth and

coldness, sympathy, enthusiasm, love. Sense or warmth
is a “gateway” to the upper senses.
The Higher Senses
These senses give us access to communicating our
thoughts and feelings to others. Also called the social
senses. Focus of development is during 14 – 21 years of

Sense of Hearing – Our ear has three main parts – the
outer, middle and inner ear. Our sense of hearing
allows us to differentiate sounds. Perception of
sounds, tones, words of others, receiving input from
the world. *Connected to the sense of balance.

Sense of Word (Speech) – Allows us to be aware of the
language another human being uses to communicate
with us. Allows us to grasp how language is used.
Perception of thoughts and expression of thoughts,
understanding and expressing through gesture as well

as through words. *Connected to the sense of

Sense of Thought - The sense that gives one the
capacity to understand, comprehend, and picture what
another’s thoughts convey. Understanding of the
inner character, ideas and truth. Ability to reflect, use
clear judgement. *Connected to the sense of life.

Sense of Ego - The sense that gives one the ability to
be sensitive to someone’s individuality. Perception of
ones individuality and the individuality of others.
*Connected to the sense of touch.
The first list, the “will” senses are considered to be key
foundational senses associated with the earliest phase
of childhood, from birth to age 7. These four senses
are said to lead to the proper blossoming of the last
four “thinking” senses in the adolescent years between
14 and 21. So in the kindergarten we have to create

environment focused on the development of the
lower senses. Free play (playing without interuption
using natural materials), story telling, music, poem,
acting or make-believe or fantasy play, water color
painting, beeswax modelling, crafting, outdoor play
are main activities we could give in any form for
All of those activites given with the 3 R's in a Waldorf
Kindergarten, reverence, repetition, and rhythm.

3R – Rhythm, Repetition, Reverence
Children are carried along by the rhythms of the world
they live in – from rhythms of breathing in their
bodies to the daily rhythms of sleeping and waking.
The Waldorf view is that children flourish when their
daily activities reflect the natural order of life with a

rhythmic arrangement of the day. Rhythm gives a
series of fixed anchors for children to work around in
their day and week --- mealtimes, as well as bedtime,
playtime, work time. Rhythm, once established, is
deeply soothing, since they know what is coming next
without needing verbal instructions. Also creating a
safe boundaries for children, since they know what
things will happen when, where and how that creates
the feeling that the world is predictable, and safehence, good.

Rhythm is developed around daily, weekly, and
seasonal rhythms.

Children can anticipate daily

activities and are given a chance to “breathe” in and







restful/active activity). The activities in Waldorf Early
Childhood flow with a sense of “breathing in” and
“breathing out,” from the quiet moments of stories
and circle to the active movements of rigorous work

and play (child directive activities through which he or
she can relax and release energy). Great attention is
paid by the teachers to balancing breathing in and out
activities, so that the children do not become
overwhelmed by any one activity or energy in the
room. This rhythm is not an imposed schedule, but
arises from the physical needs of the children and

Because this rhythm is natural to the

children it assists their physical development, provides
them with a sense of security, and prevents over

Transitions (such as coming in from

outdoors), which can often be stressful for children,
are undertaken with songs and short games.
Sample Schedule for Kindergarten
8:20 Welcoming: Children arrive.
8:30 – 9:45 Free play
The Weekly Rhythm of Daily Activities:
Monday - Painting
Tuesday - Gardening

Wednesday - Baking or soup making
Thursday - Crafting
Friday - Beeswax and nature walk
9:45 – 10:00 Tidy-up, bathroom, hand washing, and
rest time.
10:00 – 10:30 Morning Circle – We gather for our
morning verse and greet the day and each other in
song, movement, and poems.
10:30 – 11:00 Snack Time – The snack is cooked at
The Weekly Rhythm of Snack:
Monday - Rice day
Tuesday – Fruit and vegetable day
Wednesday – Soup day
Thursday – Bread or muffin day
Friday – Oat day
11:00 – 12:10 Outside Time – We also use this time to
do gardening and nature walks.

12:15 – 12:45 Fairy/Folk Tale (told by teacher), play,
or puppet play.
12:45 – 13:00 Tidy-up
13.00 Dismissal

Free play, both indoors and outdoors.

Free play is a selfdirected activity. A
child’s self-directed
play develops
creativity, large and
fine motor
development, problem
solving, social skills
and verbal skills.

According to David Elkind, author of The Power of
Play [Da Capo Press, 2006], imaginative play is the
catalyst for social, physical, emotional, and moral

development in young children. Play based on the
children’s own spontaneous ideas is one of the
Waldorf kindergarten’s primary activities.

The simple, open-ended toys in the classroom lend
themselves to that kind of play. Pieces of fabric - silk,
cotton, wool, anything that is natural. Young children
will find a multitude of uses for these. A piece of fabric
went from being butterfly wings, a princesses cloak to
a ghost costume in the space of about half an hour. A
piece of driftwood can become a car one minute, and a
house the next. Often children will act out the fairy
tales they hear during story time.

Research provides considerable support for not rushing
to introduce academics. A study of 100 kindergartens
in Germany found that children in “academic”






arithmetic actually performed worse in later grades

than children in play-based programs. Finland, where
school doesn’t begin at all until age seven, routinely
leads the world in literacy, math, and science scores
During indoor play, the children use these objects to
sort, count, compare, contrast, categorize and create.
They recognize shapes and patterns as they build
geometric designs. Using modeling beeswax, the
children construct geometric and freeform shapes. Arts
and crafts materials, and costumes and puppets allow
the children to draw, tell and act out stories and
engage in other creative play.

Gross motor skill development is the hallmark of early
childhood. During outdoor play, the children will be
encouraged to be physically active in a safe, supervised
play yard—which is for their exclusive use. Students
will be able to jump-rope or tackle an obstacle course.
The children gain experiential understanding of
fundamental scientific principles through observing
and manipulating their environment during outdoor
playtime, such as learning about the weather, the
seasons, and plants and animals of the area. Playing on
the seesaw, lever systems, and swings and balance
beams, the children will experience the fundamental
laws of physics kinesthetically. The importance of hard
work is learned as they participate in seasonal outdoor
projects and beautify
gardening, painting, etc.

their play area



Circle Time provides
a social experience in
which children
develop an
awareness of being
an individual within
a community.
The songs and poems are carefully selected so the
children experience the beauty, magic, power, and the
humor of language. Our seasonal circles help children
become more aware of Nature and their surroundings
and strengthen their skills in observation and capacity
to describe the world around them.

All circle activities empower students by teaching them
appropriate sensory motor skills necessary to social
interactions. In addition, learning the circle helps build
in the children the power to memorize, a skill that will

come in handy when a play is performed or the





Listening to stories is foundational to
developing the capacities for reading and

The teacher repeats the telling of the same story for a
week; by week’s end, most of the children are able to
retell it from memory. This process develops crucial
pre-writing skills such as active listening, visualization,

reflective thought, organization, sequencing and
concentration. Puppetry and dramatic play also are
used to spark intrigue and a passion for learning. By
hearing stories from many cultures, children are
introduced to the cultural diversity that surrounds

Snack time.
Kindergarteners help
prepare a healthy,
homemade snack each
day, such as soups,
grains, or bread.

In helping to prepare the snack the children learn
about nutrition, foods, measurement, estimation, and
following directions. When setting the table and
collecting the trash, cups, and compostable goods,
children are also learning one-to-one correspondence:
one placemat per child, one cup per placemat, etc.

Often the children will spontaneously begin to count
out loud as water is poured into each cup. These math
and science skills, learned in a practical experiential
fashion, are the building blocks for conceptual

While eating together, the children develop social
skills such as manners, taking turns and cleaning up.
Snack time, though its purpose may seem obvious,
also teaches important skills. At snack, children remain
at the table for an attention-span lengthening time of
around thirty minutes. We recite verses as snack is
prepared and distributed, and each day we follow the
same predictable routine before, during, and after
snack. As adults, we often forget what a tremendous
amount of concentration is involved in simply
remembering to stay in our chairs! The concentration
and ability to sit at the table for longer periods of time
prepares the children for reading and writing. We

further support this goal by emphasizing a left-toright movement when serving.

Tidy-up time

It involves teamwork, responsibility, and logic. How
can we work as a team to put our room or our
playground back together again? If we stop to consider
just what it takes to put the blocks, shells, cloths, etc.
all in the appropriate baskets on the correct shelf, and
to put the dark-colored chairs at the play table and the
light-colored chairs at the snack table, and to put all
the blue play tubs back in the playhouse, we realize we
are talking about set theory! This concept of which
things go together is an underlying element of many
intelligence tests. But the most obvious benefit of
tidy-up time for the children is the joy and sense of
accomplishment that comes from completing a task
that, at first glance, appears to be overwhelming.

During tidy-up time and snack, children are also
developing habits that will carry our children through
their academic careers. The care we take in folding
cloths, putting chairs away, arranging placemats is
intended to develop in the children an attention to
detail that may later emerge in elementary school
years as neat handwriting, good study habits, and a
sense of pride in their work

Daily and weekly rhythms, interwoven with seasonal
celebrations, support children as they move whole
heartedly into play and learning. Handwork, healthy
meals, and regular outdoor play encourage the proper
growth of the child’s body. Meanwhile, social
interaction and creative play lay the foundation for
emotional and social growth.

Repetition is incorporated into all aspects of our
rhythms and routines. We hang up our coats and put
away our shoes the same way every day. We clear our
places after snack and tuck in our chairs after snack the
same way every day. Some of our songs and verses we
say and sing every day of the school year. We tell the
same story for one week or two weeks at a time. We
sing or say the same songs and verses for two weeks at
a time during our circles, and usually we say or sing
each one twice in a row. We use consistent phrases to
guide and re-direct children's behaviour. Repetition
provides consistency, which helps with discipline.

Young children learn primarily through imitation, and
repetition gives children the opportunity to improve
their singing, saying or doing a little bit at a time
without direct instruction - they don't feel they are
being "taught" something or being put in the

spotlight, rather they are learning it themselves by
watching carefully and practicing.
Repetition is a key to academic success. Repetition
allows learning to enter a child deeply - quality over
Learning something by rote - practising something
until it becomes routine, whether it be the routine of
tucking mittens in a sleeve, hanging a coat on a hook,
placing shoes with the toes to the wall and putting on
inside shoes (all without a teacher's help) frees up the
working memory part of our brains for further, deeper
learning. At the beginning of the year the children
need lots of help with these tasks and many gentle
reminders. But by the end of the year, they hardly
need to think about it at all. The first two weeks of
school no one remembered to tuck in their chairs
(including the teachers) but now they all do it without

Reverence, as well as gratitude, is important to foster
in early childhood. However, they cannot be taught to
young children through doctrine or words. Rather,
those attitudes must live within the adults who are
caring for them

Reverence develops from the care, love, and devotion
we have for each other, the things around us, and the
environment in which we live. The teacher fosters
reverence through giving thanks for what we eat,
greeting the day, and how we part from one another at
the end of the day.
Ways in which we work to develop reverence in
Waldorf Early Childhood classes:
1. Beautiful and lovingly cared for environment:
Children witness us engaged in real and meaningful
work carried out with love and attention.

2. Spirit of gratitude:
· Morning verse
· Blessings of thanks at mealtime
· Care for materials
· Care for one another
3. Consider the value of play:
· Create time and space for play
· Allow freedom to play and take risks in safe
· Provide uninterrupted opportunities for play
· Unformed toys nurture the imagination
4. Experiences in and with nature:
· Working in the garden, climbing trees, gathering
leaves, experiencing weather
· Observe magic in nature with wonder and awe
without the burden of scientific language and
concepts (best saved for later)
5. Nature of the programming and activities in the

· Lighting of a candle before story and mealtime
· Folding a silk
· Storytelling
· Artistic activities (painting, drawing, beeswax
· Preparing and sharing meals together
· Celebrating festivals
6. Reverence and respect for each child and for each
other shown daily.

Role of Teachers
“Our highest endeavor must be to develop free
human beings who are able of themselves to
impart purpose and direction to their lives. The
need for imagination, a sense of truth, and a
feeling of responsibility—these three forces are the
very nerve of education.”
-Rudolf Steiner-

The Waldorf educational approach works from a
child’s perspective. A Waldorf educator looks at what
an individual child needs and responds to the child
with a suitable approach. The teacher asks: “What do
you need and how can I help you?”, “What can I do to
make you flourish, to be happy, and to fulfil your
potential and your dreams?”, “How can I help you
become a well-rounded, healthy human being so that
you respect yourself and your fellow human beings?”
A Waldorf teacher is always striving to fulfil what a
child truly needs – looking deeply into the child,
wanting to really see and understand the child. And at
the same time the teacher looks at the child’s
developmental needs – where the child is at, what the
child’s strengths and weaknesses are and how to help
the child progress according to his or her own natural

Teachers in Waldorf schools are dedicated to generate
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





behavioristic rewards to motivate learning. It allows
motivation to arise from within and helps engender
the capacity for joyful lifelong learning.

The Waldorf early childhood educator works with the
young child by creating a warm, beautiful and loving
home-like environment, which is protective and
secure, and where things happen in a predictable,
rhythmic manner.
The young child learns primarily through imitation
and activity. In all aspects, an important requirement
of a Waldorf teacher is that her actions be worthy of
imitation and filled with purposeful joy. We must be
consciously aware of the quality of our movements,
for whether we like it or not, we will see the children
mirror for us what we have presented to them as it
emerges in their actions and play

The kindergarten teacher takes care to create an
environment in which the child is warmly nurtured
and guided toward realizing his or her emotional,
intellectual and social potential. Kindergarten teacher

creates a setting in which the child fully experiences the
gift of a childhood filled with imaginative play and
concrete exploration

The teacher guides the students each day through
various activities such as cooking/baking (motor skills,









recitation/phonemic awareness), and outdoor and
indoor free play (development of social skills, physical
and brain development). Such active learning has
many benefits, perhaps the most significant of which is
building the brain’s own capacity.
Inside and outside, the teachers do meaningful work
during free play. Often the teachers are preparing
various whole grains, fruits, and vegetables for snack.
From bread to barley soup, the children help with
measuring, cutting, stirring, shaping, and preparing.

They also help wash dishes and set the table for snack.
Through cooking and other seasonal tasks such as
gardening, grinding grains into flour, and mending
toys—the children experience the natural cycles of the
year and learn practical skills that prepare them for the
grades program. This atmosphere of working and
caring, of calmness and usefulness translates into
children who feel respected, and revered, and safe.

“Our highest endeavor must be to develop free human beings, who are
able of themselves to impart purpose and direction to their lives.”–
Rudolf Steiner, Founder of the Waldorf School Movement