The following is an extract from "The Educational Tasks and Content of the Steiner Waldorf curriculum" published by the Steiner Waldorf Schools Fellowship in the UK.
Waldorf Kindergarten Curriculum
Traditionally 5 morning sessions per week are offered, each lasting approximately 4 ˝ hours.
Cognitive, social, emotional and physical skills are accorded equal value in the Kindergarten and may different competencies are developed.
Teaching is by example rather than by direct instruction and is integrated rather than subject based. In recognition of its vital role in early education, children are given time to play. Emphasis is given to regular patterns of activities both within the day and over each week.
The early years
The child presents a particular set of physical, emotional and intellectual characteristics which require a particular (empathetic) educational response in return. The first seven years is seen as the period of greatest physical growth and development. At this time the young child’s primary mode of learning is through doing and experiencing – he or she “thinks” with the entire physical being.
The nature of this learning should be self-motivated, allowing the child to come to know the world in the way most appropriate to his or her age – through active feeling, touching, exploring and imitating, in other words, through doing. Children are encouraged to master physical skills before abstract intellectual ones.
Aims and objectives
Providing opportunities for children to be active in meaningful imitation
Imitation is acknowledged as the prime Waldorf means of children’s learning – hence adults in Kindergartens teach by imitation and most of what children learn at this stage is by example. The child learns life from life and children model behaviour on what happens around them.
The Kindergarten is a community of “doers” supported by meaningful work, e.g. by baking bread, cooking, cleaning etc. The children are welcome, but not required to help. Teachers are conscious of their own moral influence upon the child and the development of good habits through imitation. Around the 6th / 7th year (at the time of the change of teeth) the forces of imitation diminish and give way to a new phase of development in which the child is ready for the more formal instruction of school.
Working with rhythm and repetition
Steiner Waldorf Kindergartens identify rhythm as an important educational principle. Children need the reassurance of continuity and regular events mark the Kindergarten year, week and day. Seasonal activities celebrate the cycles of the year and a seasonal area in the room reflects the changing natural world, as do the themes of stories, songs and poems.
Everyday has its own smaller rhythms that support the day’s activities. The day is structured so that there is a varied pace – with a balance between periods of activity and times of rest (e.g. energetic outdoor activity by a q