Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Why Waldorf?

If you know us, or have been reading our blog recently, you probably already know that we have chosen to provide Noah with natural toys and strive to create a calm environment in our home without the mass quantities of battery-operated toys that is fairly common in most homes with babies and toddlers. You may have seen the term Waldorf used to describe our style of living and parenting. You can click here to read about the origins of Waldorf education and about the attributes of Waldorf playthings. While we are not strictly Waldorf, there are many aspects of Waldorf education and philosophy that seem to fit well with our family. Below are some of the reasons we have chosen a Waldorf-inspired lifestyle and playthings.

Rhythm. Having a regular rhythm/routine to the day, week and year helps children to know what to expect next in the course of the day and the week. For example, on Tuesday we sweep the floors and vacuum, on Wednesday we do laundry, etc. Also, having yearly rituals for birthdays and seasonal celebrations builds a sense of family and stability.

Reverence for nature. Outdoor free-play (even in the rain or snow) in naturalistic surroundings provides opportunities for the child to explore. The child should have dirt to dig, places to climb, a source of water for play, trees, flowers that smell good, bugs, birds, a garden with edibles. Ideally, play should involve all of the senses. Seasonal changes are celebrated with a nature table containing objects found during nature walks. Each morning the earth is greeted with a song or verse.

Limited media influence. Waldorf encourages limited, if any, television viewing for young children, no character clothes or products, and no computer use for young children. This allows the child's imagination to developed freely, without the constraints of commercialism.

A slowed pace. As much as possible, the home should be protected from the frantic, busy, noisy, and rushed pace that is often the norm today.

Parent involved in purposeful work. Young children learn through imitation, so adults should model behavior that is worthy of imitation. Even if the task is washing the dishes, or doing laundry, the parents should take pleasure in this simple activity as children pick up on mood and attitude. The child should be involved in simple and routine chores of some kind, such as helping clear the table or putting away laundry.

Storytelling. Early education in Waldorf schools is based heavily on traditional fairytales and storytelling. Often the stories are told from memory and are acted out with figures or puppets to make the stories come alive.

Natural playthings. Children are given time for uninterrupted free play. Toys are made of natural materials such as wood, silk, and wool that appeal to all the senses. Toys are unstructured so children can turn one toy into many different things. Adults do not interfere with the play, but often supervise in a subtle way by doing some sort of work nearby suck as knitting, or folding clothes. Respect for the child in his/her development. Waldorf education acknowledges and respects the development of the child as a physical, mental and spiritual being, and allows development on all three levels to occur in their natural time.

This is but a glimse of Waldorf and why we feel it fits well with our family. It makes us happy to provide Noah with a home and environment that nurtures his growth in such a natural way!


  1. This is a lovely list of reasons for Waldorf.

  2. A very lovely post! You articulate "Why Waldorf" so beautifully.

  3. I have had this collection of reasons going for a while, from bits and pieces I have heard and read. I hope I didn't 'steal' it from anyone...I just can't remember where I collected them all :)

  4. What a great post, I feel the same way.

  5. I am the grandmother of a child in a Waldorf school who is now going on 12 yrs old. We are distanced by thousands of miles. What the limited computer does is further distance me from her. I can send one email a month. I can't post pictures that she can see. I can't talk about Walt Disney movies. It cuts the spontaneous interaction. The greeks had it best advocating moderation. This aspect of Waldorf is WAY past moderation. Thumbs down to that part!!

  6. Every family must decide what they feel is best for them, and Waldorf families are no different. The main reason we have a blog in the first place is to keep family up to date on our lives, but my son will not be playing 'educational' computer games when he could be outside playing :)

  7. Where do you find those adorable hats?? I would love one for my son. Your post is inspiring!

  8. Thanks! I knit the pilot hats. More about that here http://ourquietplace.blogspot.com/2010/04/pilot-hats-for-all.html