Kind stapelt bunte Bauklötze zu einem Turm17.07.2023

Waldorf Education in Day Care Centres: An Introduction for Parents

Waldorf education, also known as Steiner education, is a holistic and creative approach to the education and development of children. In this article you will learn how Waldorf education is applied in day care centres, what advantages it offers and how it differs from other educational approaches such as theMontessori education or theNature kindergarten, distinguishes.

Foundations of Waldorf Education

Waldorf education was developed by Rudolf Steiner at the beginning of the 20th century and is based on his anthroposophy, a spiritual worldview that views the human being as a holistic being. The aim of Waldorf education is to develop the individual abilities and potential of each child and to help them lead a balanced and harmonious life. It is based on three fundamental principles:

1.The unity of head, heart and hand

Waldorf education sees the human being as a whole and attaches great importance to harmonising the children's cognitive, emotional and practical development. The unity of head, heart and hand means that both intellectual abilities (head) and emotional competences (heart) and practical skills (hand) are equally promoted in the educational process. The aim is to support the children on their way to harmonious personality development and to give them the opportunity to develop fully in all areas of life.

2. the developmental stages of the child

Waldorf education takes into account the different developmental phases of the child and aligns its methods and content accordingly. Rudolf Steiner distinguished between three main phases:

  1. Theimitative phase (0-7 years): In this phase, children learn mainly through imitation and direct experience. Education aims to create a loving, safe and stimulating environment in which children can explore their environment and express themselves.

  2. The imaginative phase (7-14 years): At this stage, children begin to develop their own thoughts and imaginations. Waldorf education uses stories, artistic activities and craft projects to stimulate children's imagination and develop their creative skills.

  3. The judging phase (14-21 years): At this stage, young people develop critical thinking skills and begin to make their own judgements and decisions. Waldorf education supports this development by offering young people space for reflection and discussion and helping them to find their own points of view and values.

3. the freedom of the individual

Waldorf education regards each child as a unique individual with its own strengths, weaknesses, interests and talents. It places great value on the freedom of the child to find its own way and to develop according to its individual abilities and inclinations. In doing so, the children are lovingly accompanied and supported by the educators without imposing preconceived solutions or expectations on them.

Aspects such as the connection to nature, the integration of arts and crafts, as well as the focus on community and social skills also play an important role. These basics form the foundation for the design of everyday educational life in Waldorf day care centres and schools.

Zwei Kinder spielen auf einem Spielplatz. Eines klettert ein Seil hoch an einem sonnigen Tag.© Photo by Vitolda Klein on Unsplash

The daily routine in a Waldorf Kindergarten

In Waldorf kindergartens, the focus is on providing the children with a stimulating, harmonious and natural environment in which they can develop freely. The daily routine and the choice of toys are designed to support these goals.

Daily routine

The daily routine in a Waldorf kindergarten is structured, yet flexible enough to meet the needs of the children. In general, the daily routine is divided into the following areas:

  1. Free play: The children have enough time for free play, where they can decide for themselves what they want to play with and with whom. Free play promotes the children's independence, creativity and social skills.

  2. Morning circleAt the beginning of the day, the children and teachers gather in the morning circle. Songs are sung, stories are told or small movement exercises are done. The morning circle serves as a common start to the day and strengthens the sense of community.

  3. Common mealsMeals are taken together and offer the children the opportunity to develop social skills such as table manners, consideration and conversational skills. In many Waldorf kindergartens special emphasis is placed on healthy, organic and seasonal food.

  4. Artistic and craft activities: During the day, the children have the opportunity to participate in various artistic and craft activities, such as painting, drawing, felting, weaving or carving. These activities encourage the children's fine motor skills, creativity and concentration.

  5. Exercise and nature experience: Waldorf kindergartens place great emphasis on movement and experiencing nature. The children spend time outdoors every day where they can play, climb, romp and explore nature. This helps them to develop their gross motor skills, stamina and perceptive abilities.

  6. Rest periodsIn between the activities, there are always rest periods where the children can rest, relax or engage in a quiet activity. These breaks are important for the processing of the experiences and the regeneration of the children.


In Waldorf kindergartens, special emphasis is placed on the selection of toys. The following principles are in the foreground here:

  1. Natural materials: The toys are mainly made of natural materials such as wood, fabric, wool or felt. These materials have a pleasant feel, are durable and environmentally friendly.

  2. Simple design: The toy is designed to be simple and open to stimulate children's imagination and creativity.

  3. Versatility: Versatile toys that can be used in different ways encourage children's imagination and creativity. For example, building blocks can be used to build towers, bridges or houses, while cloth towels can be used as blankets, clothes or landscapes.

  4. Promotion of sensory perceptionToys in Waldorf kindergartens should appeal to and promote the children's sensory perception. These include, for example, sound woods, rattles, feel boxes or scented bags.

  5. Refrain from using electronic toys: In Waldorf kindergartens, electronic toys are deliberately avoided in order to allow the children to have an immediate, sensory experience and to give priority to their own activities and ideas.

  6. Care and appreciation: The educators make sure that the toys are treated and cared for with care. In this way, the children learn to value their environment and the things that surround them and to deal with them responsibly.

Overall, the daily routine and the choice of toys in Waldorf kindergartens aim to provide the children with a holistic, harmonious and natural environment in which they can develop freely and discover and develop their individual abilities and interests. Rhythm, repetition and a balance of activity and rest play an important role in giving the children security, orientation and a feeling of safety.

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The role of the educators

In Waldorf day care centres, educators have a special responsibility. They are not only teachers, but also role models, companions and supporters of the children. They pay attention to a loving and respectful relationship with the children and promote their self-confidence and independence. In doing so, they playrelationship-focused pedagogy andintercultural pedagogy an important role.

The role differs in some aspects from the role of educators in other pedagogical approaches. Below is a detailed explanation of their roles and responsibilities:

Role model function

In Waldorf education, educators have a special role model function, especially in the imitative phase (0-7 years) when children learn mainly through observation and imitation. It is therefore important that educators are aware of their own attitude, language and actions and model positive, loving and respectful behaviour.

Creating a stimulating environment

One of the main tasks of educators in Waldorf education is to create a stimulating, safe and harmonious environment in which children can develop freely and explore their environment. This includes designing the room with natural materials, choosing age-appropriate toys and integrating art, music and movement into everyday life.

Relationship building and emotional support

The educators in Waldorf education place great value on building trusting, empathic and authentic relationships with the children. They take time to get to know each child individually and offer emotional support and security. The educators make sure that each child is seen and valued and that their individual needs and abilities are taken into account.

Promotion of social skills

The educators in Waldorf education have the task of promoting the children's social skills and helping them to build positive relationships with their classmates. They support the children in solving conflicts without violence, showing consideration for each other and finding solutions together. They use methods such as playing together, projects and group activities.

Accompanying individual development

The educators in Waldorf education accompany the children on their individual path of development and promote their independence and autonomy. They offer the children space and time to discover and develop their own ideas, interests and talents. In doing so, they take care not to over- or under-challenge the children and offer them the necessary support and guidance.

Cooperation with the parents

Educators in Waldorf education work closely with parents and see them as important partners in the educational process. They attach importance to an open and respectful dialogue and strive for a trusting cooperation. Through regular parent meetings, information events and joint activities, the exchange is promoted and the common goal of supporting the best possible development of the child is pursued.

Reflection and further training

The educators in Waldorf education are aware that they themselves as educators must constantly continue to learn and develop. Therefore, they attach great importance to self-reflection, collegial exchange and regular further and in-service training. Through this continuous examination of their own role, pedagogical content and methods, they can constantly improve their work and adapt it to the needs of the children.

Interdisciplinary cooperation

In Waldorf education, cooperation with other professionals and institutions is of great importance. The educators work in an interdisciplinary way with therapists, doctors, social workers and other educational institutions to ensure the best possible support and encouragement for each child.

In summary, the role of educators in Waldorf education is multifaceted and demanding. They are role models, relationship partners, learning companions as well as mediators of values and social skills. The well-being and individual development of the child is always at the centre of their actions.