All about the role of ... The Steiner Waldorf Kindergarten teacher

Anne Hayes
Friday, April 13, 2012

Steiner Waldorf education is founded on the work of the Austrian philosopher and educationalist Rudolf Steiner, who also influenced the fields of music, drama, architecture, finance, medicine and agriculture.

The first Waldorf school was founded in Austria in 1919. Today, there are more than 1,000 schools, 2,000 kindergartens and 80 teacher-training colleges in more than 64 countries. It is the fastest growing alternative to mainstream education in the world.

Steiner education is based on a unique philosophy and an international curriculum designed to meet the developing emotional and intellectual needs of children.

The kindergarten teacher provides a secure, unhurried environment where children can discover their own love of learning. The routine is consistent and predictable and emphasis is on learning through play.

Activities include baking, sewing, weaving, modelling, drawing, painting and woodwork. A rich oral tradition includes fairy tales, ring games, eurythmy (a movement art developed by Rudolf Steiner), singing and the celebration of festivals.

Other features of Steiner kindergartens are:

  • sessions for parents and children
  • children are enrolled at three and stay until they are seven
  • the environment is sensorially protected, with no strong colours or synthetic materials
  • rhythm and repetition are key, moving between child-led and teacher-led activity
  •  reading, writing and formal numbers are introduced at a later stage than in other UK schools.

The Steiner Waldorf Schools Fellowship is a membership organisation for all Steiner schools and early years settings in the UK and Ireland.


The Steiner Waldorf Early Childhood Studies Certificate Level 4 and the Steiner Waldorf Early Childhood Studies Diploma Level 5 lead to qualified kindergarten teacher status. Both courses are validated by Edexcel.

The two courses take three years in total. Years 1 and 2 are part-time with monthly Saturday sessions during term-time and two residentials per year. Students also attend weekly local study groups and undertake reading and written assignments between sessions. This brings the student to Certificate Level 4 standard.

The third year is a full-time apprenticeship in a Waldorf kindergarten undertaking supervised observation and teaching practice with reading and written assignments. This leads to Diploma Level 5 standard.

The course content includes an overview of Waldorf education from kindergarten to upper school, an overview of child development in the first seven years, the methodology of the Waldorf Early Years curriculum and personal development of the teacher.

To undertake the course students must be able to write and speak English to a good level, have basic computer skills, be able to work at a Level 5 academic standard and must be CRB checked.

The Certificate and Diploma courses are worth 240 UCAS points and allow candidates to progress to an early years degree or EYPS training. A level 6 BA in Steiner Waldorf Early Childhood Studies is being developed.

Training is undertaken at the Steiner headquarters in London. From autumn 2012 the courses will also be delivered in York.


London course contact: Lynne Oldfield. Tel: 01452 812393. Email:

North of England course contact: Jill Taplin. Email:

The Steiner Waldorf Schools Fellowship:


On my first visit to a Steiner school, I was struck by the happy confidence and unjaded curiosity of the children in every class. The holistic approach and care for the environment was very evident and the teachers' knowledge of and commitment to each child really made an impression on me. I was also impressed with the high levels of parent participation and the school's co-operative structure.

As a result, I gained the Foundation Degree in Steiner Waldorf Early Childhood Education and Care through the University of Plymouth. I have since completed the MA in Early Childhood Studies and am studying for my doctorate, both at Sheffield University.

I have been the education co-ordinator at Beechtree Steiner Kindergartens, in Leeds, since 2010. The kindergarten grew out of a small group of parents and teachers committed to providing Steiner education for their young children. I was a founding teacher of our first kindergarten in 2001. We have grown from around six families to nearly 100 and are applying to be a free school. Our vision is to open Leeds Steiner Schools for fourto 16-year-olds in 2013.

We have two kindergartens for threeto six-year-olds, open daily as four to five hour morning sessions with an extended full-day care option until 5pm. Each kindergarten has a Steiner trained teacher and an assistant with up to 16 children attending each day, but around 22 children on the register as most attend part-time. Both settings have children with SEN so we also have learning support assistants.

I am also a Steiner teacher trainer. I taught on the University of Plymouth's Foundation Degree in Steiner Waldorf Early Childhood Education and Care and from autumn 2012 will teach on the upcoming North of England Steiner Waldorf Early Childhood teacher training course.

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