In Russia there are approximately 115 Waldorf kindergarten groups in several regions – the European region, Ural, Siberia, and Baikal. Most of these are independent, but a small number are in government kindergartens. There are also kindergarten groups attached to Waldorf schools.
Children from age 3 – 7 attend kindergarten in Russia. For children from 18 months to three years old, there are part-time programs. Children can attend kindergarten up to the age of 8 in Russia.
In the past year the „Berjezka“ Waldorf kindergarten program received government recognition because it meets the new educational standards. Private kindergartens are financed by parents.
Training. We began our Waldorf early childhood training in 1991 when we founded the “Waldorf Center for Preschool Education”. The first students graduated in 1993 when 42 people became Waldorf early childhood educators. Since that time, the number of students has increased every year and today there are 337 people who have completed this training.
Students attending the training come from Moscow as well as other parts of Russia. Graduates of the training program have founded approximately 89 Waldorf kindergarten groups – in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Smolensk, Samara, Cheboksary, Ivanovo, Yaroslavl, Ryazan, Vladimir, Nizhny Novgorod, Kazan, Tomsk, Voronezh, Ufa, Krasnoyarsk, Vyatka, Irkutsk, Saratov, Sochi, Kostroma, and Tula. Graduates also include Ukrainians, Lithuanians, Armenians, and White Russians, who have founded Waldorf kindergartens in Kiev, Ukraine; Vilnius, Lithuania; and Yerevan, Armenia.
The training lasts three years. In the course of the first two years, the students come three times a year for 3 weeks each time. During the third year they prepare a final project and come three times for a one-week colloquium. There are also professional development courses offered for active Waldorf early childhood educators. Courses for parents and introductory courses, as well as public lectures and workshops are also offered.
Working together. In 1995 the “Association of Waldorf Early Childhood Educators” was founded. Every year in November, Waldorf early childhood educators from all over Russia come together to attend a conference which takes place in a different Russian city each year. In addition, Waldorf early childhood educators have developed a curriculum program for Waldorf kindergartens in Russia and discuss methodological questions together.
Current issues. Early intellectual development and academics are currently very popular among young parents. How can we find an appropriate response to this? How can we work with young children who are already very strongly influenced by the consumer culture and constantly bring in new gadgets to show others? How can we compensate for the chronic lack of movement in children’s lives?
Birth to Three. Part-time groups for children from 18 months to three years have been very popular in recent years. In November 2015 a professional development course on working with groups of young children from birth to three took place, led by Claudia Grah-Wittich and Marie-Luise Compani from Germany. At present there are 7 groups for children from birth to three.
Looking back. The first Waldorf kindergarten group opened in 1988 in Moscow. Since the early 1990’s Waldorf kindergarten groups have been founded in all of Russia. The first Waldorf groups were founded in 1992 in Moscow, Zelenograd, Zhukovsky, Ryazan, St. Petersburg, Kazan, Tyumen, Tomsk, Kirov, Ufa, Vladimir, Samara, Smolensk, Irkutsk and Voronezh. Today in Russian there are 22 Waldorf schools with more than 5000 children.
Svetlana Efremova and Elena Gramotkina teach at the Waldorf early childhood training seminar in Moscow and are members of the IASWECE Council.