In Norway, a country with 5 million inhabitants, there are 45 Waldorf kindergartens with 1800 children from ages one to six.
In 1997 a new law was passed, requiring all six-year-olds to go to school. In Waldorf schools the curriculum for first grade is actually kindergarten activities, but most of the 30 Waldorf schools have their first grade classes organized as a kindergarten, but no longer with mixed-age groups of children from one to three years old or children from three to six years old.
All our programs are state-funded and Waldorf kindergartens are therefore under the same regulations as mainstream early childhood education regarding opening-times and group-size.
Many of our burning questions are concerned with the conditions of childhood in general and the ability of Waldorf-education to meet the needs of childhood today.
Working together. All the Waldorf kindergartens are working together in the Norwegian Association for Steiner/Waldorf Early Childhood Education. This Association has a national conference each year where 350 colleagues meet over a long weekend, with keynote speakers and workshops addressing burning questions such as the role of the adult, attachment theory, core values in Waldorf education, etc.
Training. The Rudolf Steiner College University in Oslo www.rshoyskolen offers a three-year bachelor program and also a part-time education course over a period of five years for students who want to become Waldorf early childhood educators. They also offer a masters degree in Waldorf Education; this program is in English and open for application from all over the world.
Birth to Three. In Norway children from birth to three are in separate groups with a few exceptions. Around 75% of one-year-old children in Norway spend long days in early childhood programs, and thus it may be understandable that educators are deeply concerned and struggle with questions and challenges regarding attachment and bonding in the early years.
Aurelia Udo de Haes, Kindergarten teacher and member of the IASWECE Council