Category Archives: waldorf

Borrowing From Waldorf

I once had the opportunity to speak with an Early Childhood Educator (ECE) about her experiences of working in a Waldorf-philosophy based school.

I was surprised to learn that in the Waldorf system, children don’t learn to read until the age of 7 or even later. I have to admit I was alarmed at first.  But once the philosophies behind these practices were explained a little more, I could definitely see the value in some of the ‘Waldorf’ activities.

During the preschool and kindergarten years, Waldorf teachers focus on developing a love of language rather than sound and letter recognition. Children recite poetry and listen to music, stories and complex fairy tales. Teachers read to children without ever showing them the books.  And because the children don’t see any of the images from the book, they can only rely on their imaginations to ‘see’ the stories.

Today’s mainstream practices of exposing children to as much literature as possible to foster a motivation to read is in contrast to this Waldorf method, but the emphasis on developing a child’s imagination is so intriguing to me. What a gift!

Nowadays there are so many beautiful illustrated children’s books but for your next story time, consider borrowing from Steiner Waldorf. Read to your children – without ever showing them the book’s cover – or the images inside. Choose your story carefully: be sure to select a story that you think the children aren’t familiar with already and one that is complex enough without any of the pictures. Then encourage your children to envision the story and let their imaginations run wild!

I’d love to hear all about your experience. How did the children respond? Did the story become a part of their art or play? Leave a comment below!

Thanks for reading,

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