In Brazil, the Waldorf education movement is already 60 years old, with 63 recognized Waldorf kindergartens and Early Childhood programs and 104 Waldorf–inspired initiatives.
Most of the regions in this country have Waldorf Education and it is very interesting to see how diverse we are. The diversity is due to different social levels and also because of the geography of the country. Slowly our Waldorf movement is growing to include under-privileged families too.
Collaboration. Created in 1998, the “Federação das Escolas Waldorf no Brasil”, FEWB, brings together all existing Waldorf schools in the country, 63 kindergartens are members. Every three years there is a major national conference for all teachers, and during summer holiday each year we have smaller conferences around the country.
Training. As the country is so huge and our movement is growing very fast, there are fourteen training centers supporting the schools with trainings. One of these centers is in São Paulo and runs the training on a weekly basis; in the others, the students meet four times a year for four years.
Our major concerns. Our first concern is to keep the six year old children in the Kindergarten. In some regions children may stay in KG until they have completed 7 years, but in other regions this is not possible.
Our second concern is to develop a wider understanding regarding the education of the small child. The playgroups are formed for children from 1 to 3 years old, with 12 children in each class. There are very few nurseries (for children from 4 months old to 1 year and a few months). One of our main concerns is to understand the needs of these very young children in order for the teachers to be aware that they do not create a kindergarten program in a nursery or play group.
The third concern is that the movement is growing in an accelerated way. This situation makes the FEWB much aware of the importance of keeping the quality of the education. How do we make sure that the name Waldorf is being used in a correct way?
Silvia Jensen is a Waldorf early childhood education in Florianopolis, and is internationally active as a trainer and mentor. She is a member of the IASWECE Council.