What is Waldorf?

Founded in Europe in the early 20th century, Waldorf education 

is based on the insights, teachings and principles of education 

outlined by the scientist, philosopher and social reformer Rudolf 

Steiner. The principles of Waldorf education evolve from a rich

understanding of human development that addresses the needs 

of the growing child—from preschool through high school. It is a 

balanced and holistic approach, engaging the child’s thinking, 

feeling and willing—their head, heart and hands—in ways that 

support the developmental phases of childhood. In a Waldorf 

school, teaching is transformed into an experiential and creative experience for the child, inspiring a life-long love of  learning, an 

appreciation for beauty and the value of artistic work, and an understanding of meaningful social interaction. According to Steiner, “Our 

highest endeavor  must be to develop free human beings, who are able of themselves to impart purpose and direction to their lives.”

Central to Waldorf early education is the preservation of childhood. There is an understanding of the innate awe and wonder of the young 

child and an awareness that the young child learns through imitation, imagination and the integration of his/her own will. This concept is 

ever present at Redwood Garden, as the teacher strives to be a model worthy of imitation and to create a secure, inviting and joyful 

environment where the young child’s growing senses, imagination and awareness of self and others can develop—through creative play, 

close connection to nature and seasonal change, practical life skills and artistic opportunities. The carefully crafted rhythm nourishes the 

young child’s sense of well-being so that the child may readily find comfort in its familiarity and may flow in and out of activities intuitively 

and effortlessly.

Also effortless is the way in which the strongest foundation for future learning is set. Opportunity for meaningful imitation, creative play, 

and the weekly activities of painting, drawing, craft, cooking, baking and gardening support healthy physical development, the central 

need of the early childhood years, leading to health and vitality for later life. These activities support healthy social interaction--the ability 

to play together, take turns, listen to one another and resolve conflict--and allow the child to experience being fully engaged in one’s work 

and to follow a task to completion. Through the repetition of song, poem and story, the child develops an appreciation for the richness of 

language and strengthens concentration and memory. Through creative play and storytelling, the children are able to process their own 

unique life experience and see their own inner pictures. They are able to access what is authentic in them, the most fertile ground there is 

for a healthy, independent and creative approach to learning and lifelong development. To learn more about Waldorf education, please 

visit: www.whywaldorfworks.org and www.waldorfearlychildhood.org 

Waldorf education enables young people to be in love with the world as the world 

should be loved.”

Marjorie Spock, Author and sister of Benjamin Spock

  redwoodgardenpreschool@gmail.com | berkeley, california | 510.524.4606