There are 30 Waldorf kindergartens in India. Some are well-established and a few are very new developing initiatives. India is a large country and all these kindergartens are spread all over the country. The first two Waldorf schools started almost simultaneously in Hyderabad and Mumbai in the late 1990’s. Slowly the movement spread and now we have 30 kindergartens and few more inspired ones.
Schools and kindergartens emerge and run on private funding only. Early childhood education laws almost non-existent in India, so there is lot freedom and parents have a choice to opt for Waldorf kindergarten. But on the other hand there is no support or recognition from the government. All kindergartens take care of children from age 3 to 6, and most of the Waldorf kindergartens also have playgroups for children from 2 to 3.Many Waldorf kindergartens also have a day care facility as a demand of the time.
Training Sadhana , our Kindergarten association came into existance ie in 2014 The training for early childhood eductors has been well organised .We are following the guidelines for training given by IASWECE. The six day training in April and National kindergarten conference in December , these two programs have been helping consistently to the new initiatives and teachers and to deepen their understandiing for last four years.Both the events are well attended by all the member kindergartens.Besides these there are also two part-time teacher training courses in Mumbai and Navi Mumbai and two in Bangaluru are the 200 hundred hours foundation courses are completely focussed on basic kindergarten teacher training for those who wish to work with the Waldorf impulse.We are hopeful and working towards the challenge to have a full-time course.
Ms Clara Arts has been instrumental in laying the strong foundation and helping us work towards the futuristic goals through the country association Sadhana.
We also have training of the trainers program every year through Sadhana .Initially we had five and six trainers and now the group is of 12 trainers.
Trainers from other countries are also sometimes invited by individual school to offer specific training and mentoring or sometimes this is open for all. In some new initiatives mentors stay for six months or more and impart training and look after the new initiative until it can function on its own.
Working together. In 2014, an association of Waldorf early childhood teachers called “Sadhana”was founded. Among the tasks it has undertaken are organizing regional and national conferences, supporting new initiatives, and coordinating the mentoring and development of the training.
1) Reaching out to parents and spreading awareness. Parents want a change in the early childhood education but lack awareness. Orientation is much needed. Some parents attend a workshop or seminar on Waldorf education somewhere and then search for kindergartens.
2) Waldorf kindergartens have increased in number in many urban cities.
3) 50 percent parents agree with the fact that reading and writing need not be achieved in a hurry.
4) Parents have a concern for the continuity in this philosophy as there are very few Waldorf Grade schools.
5) It is still difficult to find a kindergarten teacher since the country is vast.
6)The schools have tried their best to adapt the curriculum for India by bringing in culture and local songs and customs wherever applicable.
7) Retaining trained teachers with the same school is difficult. Teachers get trained , work for two or three years, and then leave the school for various reasons.
8) There are more Waldorf kindergartens in big cities as people feel the need for this stressfree and safe , warm environment for their little children but finding a suitable place which is desired to make such aesthetically pleasing place is becoming increasingly difficult.
Looking back. The Waldorf movement in India is approximately 18 years old. In the beginning , the kindergarten teachers got on-the-job training by Miriam Haenen and Tina Brusma. Both mentors visited India for training for six years. Eventually , more international trainers started coming to India and Indian teachers also started to attend conferences and seminars both in and outside of the country.
Sucheta Garud is a former Waldorf kindergarten teacher. She is a member of the Board of Sadhana and an IASWECE Council member. Website of Sadhana: http://www.siwka.org/