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Recommended Reading

For parents who are interested in gaining a more complete understanding of the view of the child inherent in Waldorf pedagogy, we suggest the following books.

Child Development

Encountering the Self: Transformation and Destiny in the Ninth Year by Hermann Koepke

Between the ages of nine and ten, as children’s incarnate more deeply, they often experience themselves for the first time as separate individuals, different from their parents and peers, and essentially alone. This inner experience is sometimes precipitated by a first encounter with death in the child’s environment, a first inkling that life is fragile. Koepke provides a lucid and highly readable explanation of the outer signs and symptoms of this essential turning point in the life of a child. He demonstrates the significance of this crucial moment by showing how the destiny and achievements of such personalities as Dante, Schliemann, Kokoschka, Steiner, and Bruno Walter rest upon a fateful encounter or event in their ninth year.

Phases of Childhood by B.C.J. Lievegoed

The author describes the development of the child in phases of around seven years, each phase having its own character. The changes in the body are well known: for instance, change of teeth, puberty, and completion of physical growth. The psychological development parallels with physical and is at least as important. Examining the relationship of children to the world around them, Lievegoed describes the experience of the preschooler, school child, and teenager in a clear and concise way. The latter part of the book is concerned with the practical application of these insights, allowing a method of education in harmony with the stages of development.

The Recovery of Man in Childhood by A.C. Harwood

In this absorbing study of Rudolf Steiner’s educational work, Harwood argues that childhood is a time of losing, as well as gaining, capacities. Is there a connection between the loss of a childhood faculty and the acquisition of an adult one? Yes — in fact, a three-fold connection. Harwood gives an insightful survey of the three seven-year stages of child development depicted by Steiner, presented in connection with numerous examples and anecdotes on Waldorf Education, such as foreign languages, eurythmy and music, and the temperaments. These lucid explanations qualify this book as the most intelligent and stimulating introductory work on that unique approach to education known as “education as an art.”

Early Childhood Education

Childhood by Caroline von Heydebrand

This is the classic work on the Waldorf Kindergarten. Heydebrand worked with Rudolf Steiner at the first Waldorf School in Stuttgart, and her book contains a wealth of insight about working with preschoolers.


Festivals, Family, and Food by Diana Carey and Judy Large

This is a resource book for exploring festivals — those “feast days” scattered throughout the year which children love celebrating. It was written in response to children and busy parents asking, “What can we do at Easter and Christmas? What games can we play? What can we make? How can we prepare for the festivals as centers of stability in our family life?” This book is written with families, and especially with children, very much in mind — for children can remind us of the wonders that we might otherwise forget. The underlying theme is a simple but bold suggestion — that if celebrating festivals was formerly the focus of community life, then rediscovered in the modern context, such seasonal activities may enrich family life.


Festivals with Children by Brigitte Barz

Celebrating festivals is an important part of a child’s life. Brigitte Barz describes the nature and character of each Christian festival, its symbols and customs, and gives practical suggestions for celebrating these festivals in the family. This book is much more than a craft book describing what to do; it awakens an understanding in parents of the festivals and stimulates creativity toward a meaningful family festival.

Waldorf Education


Creativity in Education by Rene Querido

Rudolf Steiner recognized that all children are born with the capacity for wonder, gratitude, and responsibility. The Waldorf teacher’s task is to awaken these faculties, thereby helping young people to discover within themselves the strength, enthusiasm, and wisdom to become creative shapers of civilization, rather than passive onlookers. In these seven lectures given at the San Francisco Waldorf School, Rene Querido describes an educational approach that has as its goal the balanced development of the whole child — hand and heart as well as mind — an approach that is now being practiced in over 600 Waldorf Schools throughout the world.


The Education of the Child in the Light of Anthroposophy

Another booklet that provides a good introduction to Waldorf pedagogy, as well as to anthroposophy in general. It is one of the few lectures Steiner gave in 1909 that he revised for publication as a written work, 10 years before the first Waldorf School was founded. A main theme here is the “birthing” of the “sheaths” of human individuality. Study of this essay will lead the reader to a rather profound grasp of the Waldorf impulse — as an “education towards freedom.” Although the content may make for difficult reading as a first glance into this field, it should be readily understandable if read as the second or third of these recommended books.


Education Towards Freedom by Franz Calgren

This sumptuous, oversized volume, filled with color and black-and-white images and beautifully designed by Anne Klingborg, is the perfect introduction to Waldorf Education. Following an opening section entitled “Rudolf Steiner and His Ideas on Education,” the evolution of the child from the preschool to high school years is described in detail, in terms both of psycho-spiritual development and curriculum. A final section on “The School in the Modern World” surveys the work of Waldorf schools throughout the world.

Rudolf Steiner Waldorf Education by David Mitchell

This colorful pamphlet with photos, drawings, and simple text is an excellent introduction for interested parents.

Steiner Education: In Theory and Practice by Gilbert Childs

This thorough and detailed account of Rudolf Steiner’s view of the child’s development toward a whole personality shows how the teaching practice of the Waldorf schools is firmly grounded in a rationale which perceives the child’s past, present, and future. For the child to mature into a unique and responsible adult, “free” from distorting and harmful influences, certain fundamental human truths, both individual and social, must be respected. The curriculum of Waldorf schools is explained, together with approaches to subjects both familiar and unfamiliar.

Teaching as a Lively Art by Marjorie Spock

The author vividly introduces the reader to the important changes in child development and curriculum for each year of the Waldorf elementary school experience, from age six to age 13. She explains how in every subject the teacher strives “to shape each lesson on a rhythmic pattern in which listening or looking is balanced by the child’s own activity in doing.” This wide-ranging survey concludes with an account of some of the more intimate aspects of Waldorf teaching — the use of the four temperaments to harmoniously orchestrate a class, the necessary qualities of a teacher’s character, and the close relationship between teacher and child. This second edition includes a new introduction by Eugene Schwartz and an extensive bibliography.

The Way of the Child by A.C. Harwood

Provides an excellent and surprisingly deep and thorough introduction to this “new” approach to child psychology. Several of the themes discussed in the book were first brought by Steiner to the group of teachers he trained in his rigorous 1919 lectures entitled Study of Man. Here the same themes are made remarkably transparent by Harwood, arising from his obvious love for children, long years of experience, and facility of written expression. In his Preface he notes: “I have not endeavored to distinguish between what is immediately contained in Steiner’s own works and anything that my own thought and experience have taught me, or that I may have added by way of illustration. Rather have I tried (as I think he would have wished) to present in my own way that limited part of his work which I feel I have best understood and made my own.” If parents want to read only one book (for a start) to more fully appreciate and support their children’s class teachers, this would be it.

Renewal: A Journal for Waldorf Education

Renewal: A Journal for Waldorf Education is published twice a year by the Association of Waldorf Schools of North America (AWSNA).

Rudolf Steiner


The Four Temperaments

An early Steiner lecture (1909) and an interesting introductory booklet. Here, the reader can get a feel for Rudolf Steiner’s own style as a teacher of anthroposophy while gaining valuable insight into human character — Steiner’s understanding of the four temperaments. Class teachers, as well as many of the special subject teachers, “teach to the temperaments” to a considerable degree. This lecture also presents the four-fold aspect of the human being in a brief, engrossing context, and is therefore an ideal glimpse into the whole of anthroposophical literature.

The Kingdom of Childhood by Rudolf Steiner

Steiner presents the idea of the three seven-year periods of child development and gives many classroom examples.

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