In Italy, there are 1000 children attending the 30 Waldorf kindergartens in the country. The largest number of schools and kindergartens are in the North, but there are also some in the South and the center of Italy.
Collaboration. Beginning in 1978, two national meetings, one in autumn and one in spring, have been regularly organized. Today about one hundred teachers attend these meetings. In 1991 teachers working in the area and rooted in Anthroposophy created the Italian association Sole Luna Stelle (Sun, Moon Stars) to take care and support the early childhood education. Since 1991 the Association organizes a summer week of intensive work for teachers on pedagogical and anthropological themes regarding kindergarten-age children, and life and activities in kindergartens. Birth to three is also part of the work. Since 1994 regional meetings are held once a month in 3 areas (north – Milan, east – Oriago – Venice, Centre-south – Rome). A further meeting is held during the winter, together with teachers working with children in the second and third seven-year periods.
Training. Today in Italy there are six training centers recognized by the Italian Federazione Steiner Waldorf. The courses last two/three years (depending on how they are structured), after which kindergarten teachers have a compulsory internship.
Birth to three. Today in Italy there are no nurseries recognized by the Association Sole Luna Stelle. However during the last years sporadic initiatives for children from 0 to 3 years have started mainly as family groups, often by people with a training in Waldorf education. In many kindergartens, meetings for parents are organized in order to provide practical information regarding early childhood. Themes such as pregnancy, childbirth, first aid, breastfeeding, feeding, and the stages of child development are treated. These activities are very important because baby care and family environments are of fundamental importance for early childhood. The Italian Association considers the age 0-3 years to be very important and takes care of people and initiatives in this area.
Looking back. The first Italian kindergarten started from an Anthroposophical impulse in 1946 in Milan and the following year a little first grade class begun. Thanks to many conferences on education held in Milan, during the 1970’s many Waldorf kindergartens opened .
Silvia Rizzoli is Waldorf kindergarten teacher in Bologna, Italy and member of the IASWECE Council