Switzerland

Switzerland

 

Since the 1960s there has been a broad kindergarten movement working on the basis of Rudolf Steiner’s pedagogy. It has always been practised by many pedagogical and curative teachers in state kindergartens. In the 1980s, the movement experienced a great expansion with the founding of many new kindergartens.

Today there are about 70 Rudolf Steiner kindergartens with mostly 1-2 groups in the four parts of the country: German, French (Valais), Italian (Ticino) and Rhaeto-Romanic Switzerland. In addition there are about 40 playgroups and 10-15 day-care centres and just as many parent-child groups.

A full-time, practice-oriented, in-service training programme for kindergarten teachers was in place in Bern from 1977 until a few years ago and was led for decades by Elisabeth Moore-Haas. From the beginning she linked international cooperation with Switzerland through her involvement in the IVW (International Association of Waldorf Kindergartens), or later the IASWECE.

Both the kindergarten seminar and most of the kindergartens were and are run by private kindergarten or school associations and are run independently by the kindergarten teachers. Most kindergartens have always been fully integrated into the schools.

About 20 years ago, when major reforms were introduced at the state kindergarten level, the kindergarten teachers began to join forces and gave themselves a new organisational structure.

In 2000, the Coordination Office for Elementary Education (KEp) was founded: www.elementarpaedagogik.ch.   Today, 2020, integrated into www.steinerschule.ch

The Coordination Office for Elementary Education (KEp) has as its task the fulfilment of the concerns of Steiner education with regard to the education of children of pre-school and first school age (0 – about 8 years).

– The KEp promotes these concerns to parents, teachers, therapists, medical practitioners and public institutions in the preschool sector.

– Through contacts and discussions, the KEp tries to stimulate open exchange, to convey understanding, to network people and institutions and to support existing institutions.

– The KEp takes note of educational policy developments in the pre-school environment and communicates them to the best of its knowledge to the teachers in the pre-school sector of the Steiner schools, as well as to the Working Group (ARGE) of the Steiner schools.

– The KEp helps to build bridges between the various contact partners of the specific institutions in the pre-school sector (day families and day care centres, playgroups, kindergartens and after-school care centres), who are responsible for the areas of care and education that are separated by political sovereignty.

– In addition, it pursues the goal of raising awareness for an understanding of childhood from birth to first school age as a total educational area.

– The KEp works to ensure that children’s needs are recognised and that children are given rights and respect accordingly.

– The KEp impulses, accompanies and networks projects and concepts that serve the further development in the pre-school sector against the background of Steiner education.

In the KEp, about 12 women work together in the Commission of the Coordination Office (KoKEp), who are responsible for various areas: all regions, training, international cooperation and those specifically responsible for the early childhood sector.

Themes that KEp works on in projects and at conferences over a longer period of time are:

– Early childhood education/ transitions

– Free play

– Dealing with media/prevention

– Language development

– Relationship education/prevention of abuse

At the time of the founding of the KEp, the call for family-supplementary forms of care alongside the provision of kindergartens became louder in society.

As a result, in addition to the Rudolf Steiner Kindergarten Seminar in Bern, a part-time training course for kindergarten teachers and playgroup leaders was set up at the Academy for Anthroposophical Education in Dornach, as well as further training opportunities for childminders and daycare centre staff.

The training to become an “early childhood educator” also began at that time. Since 2019, an additional training course for parent-child group leaders has been established.

Major changes followed over several years, which after 10 years resulted in the concept “Elementary level”, as a basis for the entire developmental area from birth to the end of the 8th year of life.

Today, the elementary level is an integrated part of Rudolf Steiner schools almost everywhere: www.steinerschule.ch

The elementary level is made possible by the cooperation of all teachers teaching in the developmental area, the support and therapy group, the parents and the school doctor.

At the elementary level, the school mission statement for the first and second grade merges with what is described by KEp and the Working Group of Rudolf Steiner Schools Switzerland as the mission statement for the pre-school level.

The elementary level forms a child’s experiential space which is divided into cross-age play and age-appropriate learning. During the first seven years, much attention is paid to the physical and sensory maturation processes in the elementary level, so that intellectual and emotional competences can build on a healthy foundation. At the elementary level, the child’s free play is highly valued as a creative and social learning experience.

The transition from kindergarten to the school learning period is designed in the elementary level as a transition with spatial separation. It takes place when the child has reached school readiness, usually in the 7th year of life. This level of maturity, as well as other modalities of the transfer, is decided in consultation with all those involved in education as mentioned above. At this point of development, the school’s admission procedure begins.

The deliberate introduction of the cultural techniques of arithmetic, writing and reading is only started after the child has transferred to the school learning period of the elementary level.

 

The elementary level includes:

– Parent-child groups

These are for children from about ½ year old to playgroup age (3 years). In these groups, fathers and mothers have the opportunity to share and do things together with other parents and an educator and to receive stimulation for the children’s play and everyday education, while the children are accompanied and supervised in their play by the educator.

– Playgroups

Here, children aged between about 2 ½ and 4 years are given the opportunity to make their first social non-family contacts once, twice or three times a week for about three to four hours in small groups of about 6-10 children. In a secure, sensitive atmosphere, the children can indulge in their joy of playing and find peace beyond the hectic pace that everyday life often demands.

– Kindergartens

In the kindergarten, the children are usually between 4 and 7 years old. The group size varies between about 12-24 children. It takes place in block times for 4 hours in the morning, plus here and there in the afternoon for children who are getting ready for school. Locally, there are supplementary lunch offers.

– Day care offers

Day care centres include toddler as well as playgroup and kindergarten age in their social structure. The services offered vary from extended opening hours with lunch, off-peak care to full-day care. Through the joint education of the different age groups, different skills such as tolerance, consideration, helping and supporting are developed. In the mixed-age group, the children experience community as an element that allows them to practise social skills and enables behavioural orientation.

– 1st and 2nd class with moving lessons

Specific to Rudolf Steiner schools in Switzerland is that they should be accessible to all, but are financed entirely privately without state financial subsidies.

– Cooperation

Since the elementary level (0-9 years) has been an integrated concept of the Rudolf Steiner schools in Switzerland, the colleagues at the schools work together in weekly conferences, as well as in additional regular elementary level conferences.

Once a year the Working Group of Rudolf Steiner Schools, together with the Academy for Anthroposophical Education in Dornach, organises the national in-service training days for all teachers.

Within the KEp we organise a specialist conference once a year, which takes as its starting point topics moved by the IASWECE or other topics for in-depth study. Regular exchange meetings take place in the various regions with parent-child group leaders, playgroup leaders, day-care centre leaders and kindergarten teachers to meet and deepen pedagogical knowledge.

– Training

  1. institute for elementary education: offers for training and further education in the early childhood sector, www.elementarpaedagogik.ch
  2. academy for anthroposophical education: training to become a kindergarten teacher, www.afap.ch
  3. accompanying art – training to accompany parent-child groups,

www.institut-elementarpaedagogik.ch, m.ecknauer@institut-elementarpaedagogik.ch.

 

Contact persons

For coordination: marianne.tschan@steinerschule.ch (since 2019)

For the Council: jacqueline.walter6@bluewin.ch

 

 

Status September 2020


Slovenia

The Slovene Waldorf movement has a tradition of almost thirty years. It is very well accepted by society, has a good reputation, working conditions and an ongoing constant cooperation with other pedagogical institutions, with the Slovene Ministry of Education as well as local communities. We have a common national association for schools and kindergartens – the Association for the Development of Waldorf Schools and Kindergartens of Slovenia. Its members include 9 kindergartens (with 296 children), 5 primary schools, 1 high school and 1 music school. In addition to the members, there are 6 non-member kindergartens, some groups that offer private care based on Waldorf/Steiner principles and 2 non-member primary schools.

The Association is constantly striving to create the best possible conditions for the development of Slovene Waldorf kindergartens and schools, especially concerning the pedagogical staff and the legal conditions linked to establishing and running a Waldorf kindergarten and/or school. For this purpose, we organize a three-year Waldorf Teacher and Kindergarten Teacher Training. Currently, 53 students are enrolled in the class of 2019 – 2021. In the past years, we have educated 274 students of which 173 became school and kindergarten teachers. Our lecturers come from Slovenia and many other European countries (Norway, Denmark, England, Netherlands, Austria, and Germany). The studies are vital for providing enough educated staff to meet the growing needs of the Slovenian Waldorf schools and kindergartens. The Teacher and Kindergarten Teacher Training Course is also connected with the Studies and Teacher Training Course in Zagreb, Croatia. This means some joint working weekends, mutual help regarding lecturers, and an exchange of experiences.

In the Association, we have, all through the years, put a lot of care and attention to mentoring and advising our members’ kindergarten teachers. Our outer mentor is Jill Tina Taplin. With her help, we have formed a mentoring group of experienced kindergarten teachers, who take care of and help younger kindergarten staff. The group is also overseeing the quality of work in member Kindergartens.

Every year, we organize professional lectures for all Waldorf kindergarten teachers to take part in. We enrich these lectures by providing the space and the encouragement for active exchange of practical experiences. Part of these lectures and meetings are opened to all public. In 2016, we have thus organized a Waldorf kindergarten teachers’ conference: ‘Working with one to three years old children’ (guest lecturer Birgit Krohmer) as well as open lectures and workshops such as ‘The healing power of stories’ by Susan Perrow. In 2017, the topics of the Waldorf kindergarten teachers’ meetings and conferences were ‘Free play’ and ‘Children’s rest/sleep in the kindergarten’ (guest speaker Jill Taplin). In 2018, we organized an open conference on the theme of ‘The meaning of sleep for pre-school children’ (guest lecturers Stephanie Allon, David L. Brierley and Godi Keller), as well as lectures and workshops by Susan Perrow, titled ‘Therapeutical storytelling – the stories find their way’. 2019 was a year of celebration also in Slovenia (with many celebrations and activities across the country). In that year the Waldorf kindergartens’ conference’s topic was ‘The Physical constitution of children and its meaning’ (guest lecturers and workshop leaders: Dr.Ulf Beckman, Carola Edelmann and Birgit Krohmer). We also organized an open lecture by Uwe Buermann about the influence of modern technology on children.

In the ‘’corona time’’ Susan Perrow sent us two therapeutic stories and the translation was sent to all teachers and parents from our units. We also organized lectures via Zoom for all the parents, teachers, and our members (lecturers were Jill Taplin and Godi Keller).

We are happy to note that the Slovene Waldorf movement enjoys a very good reputation among state teachers and kindergarten teachers. This is regularly confirmed by the participation of the state kindergarten teachers in our lectures and public conferences and their feedback.

A valuable support for our kindergarten teachers is also translations of various professional literature. In accordance with our means and keeping in mind their needs as well as the literature accessible (also via IASWECE), we are supplying our kindergarten teachers with different translations – intended for internal use (from articles and parts of books to different tools they can use). We have also published books that are assisting them in their work as well as in dealing with parents, such as ‘With Heart in School’ by Godi Keller, ‘Healing stories for Challenging Behaviour’ by Susan Perrow and ‘Toxic Childhood’ by Sue Palmer.

As stated in the name of our association – all our forces are put into the development of our kindergartens and schools. Its development is not visible solely in a growing number of enrolled children and Waldorf pedagogical organizations, but most importantly in the quality of work of our kindergarten and schoolteachers as well as our organizations.

If you need any additional information regarding our National Association, the Waldorf movement in Slovenia or a Slovene kindergarten, do not hesitate to turn to us. You can reach us via e-mail: zavod@waldorf.si or by phone: ++386 (01) 434 55 77. Our internet site is www.waldorf.si – you are welcomed to visit it.

Zavod za razvoj waldorfskih šol in vrtcev – zveza, Slovenia

Association for the Development of Waldorf Schools and Kindergartens


Hungary

In Hungary the Waldorf movement is the largest  movement outside public education. Waldorf Education is the only educational reform trend that has developed over the last twenty years. It is a national network with teacher training and professional services institutions. At the moment there are 57 Waldorf kindergartens with 1751 children and 46 Waldorf schools with 7805 children. Every year more and more families choose Waldorf schools for their children.

Collaboration. The Hungarian Waldorf Association is a non-profit association founded in 1997. Schools, kindergartens, and training centers are members of the Association. The number of members is growing dynamically. The association is responsible for quality care in the institutions and in recent years has renewed the Waldorf School curriculum and the Waldorf Kindergarten Program.

The Kindergarten Assembly is working as a part of the Association. Members are representatives from all the kindergartens. The tasks of the Assembly are the following:

    • making decisions regarding  all Steiner Waldorf name rights questions and applications from new initiatives
    • setting  the rules for the quality of kindergartens
    • making decisions if necessary for changes to the  Waldorf Kindergarten Program
    • defining the principles of the payment of membership fees of kindergartens

Trainings. In Hungary there are two recognized training centers. One is more  a part-time training (three years) and a new one was established recently which is a full-time training (three years).

Looking back. Between the two world wars, with the help of Dr. Maria Göllner, some of the first Waldorf schools and kindergartens started  between 1926 and 1933.

After the end of the communist government in 1989, the first Waldorf kindergartens and schools started as civil initiatives, as non-religious or state institutes.

Birth to three. Today in Hungary there are no recognized birth to three groups but there is a growing number of small groups integrated in the kindergartens with smaller children (two – three years old). In the last period in every national meeting we have working groups on this theme,  and there are also weekend lectures for teachers, educators and parents. We do not have yet a training for birth to three.

Joli Kiss Waldorf kindergarten teacher and trainer, member of the IASWECE Council

Website of the Hungarian Waldorf AssociationWebsite of the training centers for Waldorf education.


Ireland

In Ireland, 14 Kindergartens are registered as full members of the Irish Steiner Kindergarten Association (ISKA). Three of these are Steiner National Schools. Many of our kindergartens also have Toddler or Parent & Child groups local to them. We have two registered Parent and Child groups that exist independently from kindergartens.

ISKA is a government funded national organization, formed in 1992 as a support forum for teachers and parents while they worked to nurture the development of Steiner Waldorf kindergartens in Ireland. Twenty-four years later, one could say that the Steiner education movement in Ireland has journeyed through its adolescence and entered into young adulthood. This young adult is finding its own way to live within the Irish educational culture, extending and deepening itself slowly but surely.

The Irish educational sector is, as in many countries, looking at early years in a more child-centred way, and what is developing is an as yet immature early year’s pedagogy, seeking to incorporate the benefits of unstructured play and delayed formal learning. Steiner education has much experience to offer this newly emerging national perspective and ISKA has a large part to play in this.

Hand in hand with this national focus on early years, come the pros and cons of funding and quality assurance. Governmental funding for initiatives and new online systems demand much paperwork from practitioners and/or the parent community. The employment of office staff has become necessary for many kindergartens. Quality inspections from three different sections of the department and two ‘birth to 6 yrs’ quality Early Years frameworks (Siolta & Aistear) are now part of the practitioners’ day. Needless to say this can be a pressure for the Steiner Waldorf practitioner who is already putting in many unpaid preparation hours.

In addition to this, the state has recognized and now funds three Steiner National Schools whose junior classes are supported by ISKA. While this is a wonderful achievement, the inclusion and definition of Steiner National Schools into the primary school landscape poses the need for reflection and curriculum revision by the schools and the organizations that support them.

Training. Steiner Waldorf Early Years Training is offered through ISKA Training and managed by Ulrike Farnleitner. The one-year part-time Foundation Year is a stand alone introduction to Anthroposophy, and has been devised to offer an induction into Rudolf Steiner’s philosophy while going through a holistic self-development program which helps students on their inner path of self discovery. The student can then opt to study for a further two years to qualify as a Steiner Waldorf Early Years practitioner and is offered a thorough insight into the principles and practice of Steiner Waldorf Early Childhood Education and Care. Recently there has been heightened interest both nationally and internationally in ISKA Training’s Steiner Waldorf Early Years Training.

Sinead Duignan andThérèse Perrott,  ISKA National Co-ordinators

Website of the Irish Steiner Kindergarten Association

BLATHU newsletter January 2021

 


Israel

More than a hundred kindergarten groups are working according to Waldorf ideas and principles. The number of children in groups varies. The groups are spread all over the country. Many are in cities, but one can find quite a number also in rural surroundings. Most groups speak Hebrew, a few speak Arabic, and some groups have both languages. The situations of the kindergartens are quite diverse: many kindergartens are private, some are partly recognized and supported by the government, and there are some with full government recognition.  

There are more than twenty primary and upper schools in different stages of development. Some of the more established have two parallel classes and six have an upper school. Quite a number of the schools have the full recognition of the state (Ministry of Education).

Collaboration: There are at least two country conferences each year.

Short History. The first Waldorf Kindergarten group started to work in 1985 and many others followed immediately in various locations. The first Waldorf School opened a first grade in 1989. The first Upper School began in 1997. The growth of the Waldorf movement has been rather quick.


Birth to Three. There are many groups with good quality that are working with young children. Since nearly all of them are privately run, there is no real registration and a lot of fluctuation. The birth to three training is included in the early childhood training (birth to seven), but there is still much to do, such as offering professional courses, giving more weight to this age-group in the trainings, and creating the possibility for continuing study.
Training. There are several training courses for Waldorf education throughout the country. All of them are part-time. There is only one training course that  offers a Waldorf training exclusively for early childhood.

Burning Issues. There is an ongoing “dialogue” with the Ministry of Education; it is not possible to know where it will lead, and there is still much work to do in deepening the trainings and widening the possibilities for continuation courses.

Stefanie Allon is the founder of the first Waldorf kindergarten in Israel and internationally active trainer. She is a member of the IASWECE Council.


Australia

There are approximately 40 Steiner/Waldorf schools throughout the states and territories of Australia. The first school was opened in 1957. Each organisation is independent. There are also new initiatives that are working towards establishing themselves into schools as populations grow in the outer regions. Many of these start from grass roots up with the beginnings of playgroups. Most of our Steiner communities are found along the coastlines of Australia.

Our early childhood association has 31 kindergarten members as well as many individual members. Most of these kindergartens are attached to schools.There are also a number of playgroups, as well as outdoor playgroups, preschools, and home- based care initiatives, clustered around the localities of the schools, particularly in the bigger cities.

Working together. There are annual opportunities for regions to come together for support and professional development. Every two years one of the states organizes our Early Childhood Association “Vital Years“ conference. These conferences have become pivotal for many new teachers. As Australia is so far away geographically from accessing the wealth of the northern hemisphere pedagogy expertise, we have endeavored to invite international speakers as well as our own experts, to deepen our work and to feel more connected to the world picture of Waldorf/Steiner early childhood.

Our most successful resource that was borne out of our Vital Years Conferences, is our newsletter Star Weavings. Even though it is temporarily out of print, it is greatly appreciated both nationally and internationally.


Cultural diversity. Australia is a multicultural country, with a dominant culture rooted in British and European traditions. Increasingly, Asian cultures are influencing the languages taught in our schools and Indigenous perspectives are influencing our approach to conservation of the environment, awareness and respect for the land, the water and native animals and the inclusion of dreamtime stories in kindergartens.

Training and Mentoring. There are presently three training centers where courses are mostly offered part- time or as intensives during the school holidays. These are in Perth, Melbourne and Sydney.

The Association will be starting a mentoring program in 2017.

Birth to Three.The Association is at present working on establishing a training course.

Major concerns.

  • The compulsory governmental imposition of vaccinations as an entry point for pre-school children.
  • The increased mainstream curriculum workload for assessing Class One readiness.

Heather van Zyl is a Steiner kindergarten teacher and educator. She is the Australian representative on the IASWECE Council.

Website of the Australian Association for Rudolf Steiner Early Childhood Education