How to Apply Waldorf Education at Home

Do you want to apply Waldorf education at home? This approach uses rhythm, the arts, freedom, and cooperation as keys. Learn more!
How to Apply Waldorf Education at Home
Elena Sanz Martín

Written and verified by the psychologist Elena Sanz Martín.

Last update: 24 April, 2023

The way we educate our children is changing. And not only that, but the way we view childhood has also been transformed in recent decades. Adults are increasingly respectful of children, their needs, and their individual development. In addition, valuable alternative pedagogies have emerged and are already being applied in schools and homes. For example, the Waldorf approach. But how can you apply Waldorf education at home?

The truth is that you may have already heard of this educational system based on Rudolf Steiner’s proposal. However, the number of schools that follow this methodology is still a minority. Therefore, it’s possible that, even if you want this type of education for your children, you may not have the option of enrolling them in one of them.

Despite this, the principles and practices of the Waldorf approach can  be carried out at home to promote healthy and integral growth from early childhood. Keep reading to learn some of the keys you need in order to apply Waldorf Education at home.

The principles of the Waldorf Method

The Waldorf methodology represents a major shift from the traditional educational paradigm. In this case, the rhythms and interests of each child are respected and it’s the environment that adapts to the child and not the other way around. Assessments are qualitative and are integrated into daily life, with hardly any quantitative and standardized tests.

In other words, the child’s allowed to explore, investigate, and manipulate objects and the environment to extract relevant information. Adults guide, accompany, and encourage this natural interest that arises in the child. In addition, emphasis is placed on emotional, social, and spiritual intelligence as the main pillars to work on. Another key is based on the division of the infant stage to establish different goals for each moment:

  • Early childhood (0-6 years): The main objective is to enhance creativity and psychomotor skills in the child. For this purpose, free and symbolic play is mainly used.
  • Primary education (7-12 years old): Different activities are developed to allow children to investigate, search, and build their own knowledge. In addition, artistic expression and social skills are encouraged.
  • Secondary education (13-16 years): In addition to knowledge, emphasis is placed on the development of autonomy, empathy, and reasoning.
A child running in the house, pretending to be an airplane.
When applying Waldorf methodology at home, priority is given to the development of curiosity, creativity, and the construction of the child’s own learning.

How to apply Waldorf education at home

The Waldorf philosophy seeks to promote the development of the whole child as an individual, from the intellectual, emotional, social, and spiritual levels. To achieve this, certain guidelines can be applied at home. Check them out below.

Take care of the environment

Make sure that your children can be outdoors frequently and that they often come into contact with nature. This is the best way to explore and helps them develop psychomotor skills. Forests, beaches, parks, or gardens should be part of their daily routine as much as possible.

Also, inside the home, make sure that their spaces are tidy and that they’re not cluttered with objects that can saturate them and distract their attention. Also, opt for warm colors and natural textiles.

Restrict the use of technology

Considering that children are digital natives, it’s difficult to keep them away from technology. However, this pedagogy advocates doing so as much as possible. Free play, family time, crafts, and other activities are more appropriate for early development than the use of screens. This can even alter brain function.

Create regular routines

Another important guideline is to establish regular schedules and routines. This gives children peace of mind, security, and a sense that their day-to-day lives are predictable. For example, you can create rituals for certain times (such as getting up, taking a shower, or going to bed) as well as establish set times for each task (mealtime or playtime). It can also be helpful to organize other aspects such as a weekly recurring menu.

Offer natural toys

Play is essential for children, but they’ll get more out of it if they’re provided with the right toys. To apply Waldorf Education at home, opt for the most natural toys possible (pine cones, pebbles, or shells from nature) or those made of natural materials such as wood instead of plastic.

In addition, it’s best that these toys are simple and archetypal. In other words, they shouldn’t have excessive details or a very specific function. This certain ambiguity will allow children to develop their divergent thinking and use the same object for different purposes.

A wooden train set.
Natural toys or toys made of materials such as wood, instead of plastic, are good options for children’s learning.

Use music, stories, and games

Music has a relevant role in Waldorf pedagogy, as it teaches about rhythms, motor skills, and artistic and emotional expression. Therefore, it’s good to teach children some finger and clapping games or to create songs for various moments. For example, the goodnight song or a song for picking up toys.

Stories, on the other hand, are also a great resource, especially if they’re narrated without necessarily having visual supports. By telling children a story, we allow them to create their own mental images. In this way, they make use of creativity and imagination.

Encourage participation in household chores

One of the keys to this approach is to develop children’s autonomy and awaken in them a sense of self-efficacy. To do this, there’s nothing better than involving them in household chores. Assigning them tasks and responsibilities adapted to their age will allow them to acquire motor and coordination skills. In this way, they’ll feel like part of a team working together (the family) and will assume an increasing degree of responsibility.

Applying Waldorf Education at home means respecting the stages and individuality of the child

In short, in order to implement the Waldorf method at home, adults must know the different stages of child development and what needs correspond to each one. It’s not positive to pressure a child to behave like an adult, nor to give them the freedoms of an adolescent. However, neither should we overprotect them as if they were smaller than they are.

Furthermore, it’s crucial to respect their individuality, unconditionally accept each child, and not compare them with others or force them to change. On the contrary, it’s a matter of helping them identify and enhance their virtues and qualities. With all this, loving, respectful, and conscious upbringing conditions are offered, in which the child can develop as an integral being instead of focusing only on the academic aspect.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Easton, F. (1997). Educating the whole child,“head, heart, and hands”: Learning from the Waldorf experience. Theory into practice36(2), 87-94.
  • Moreno, M. M. (2010). Pedagogía Waldorf. Arteterapia. Papeles de arteterapia y educación artística para la inclusión social5, 203-209.
  • Waldorf 100. (2019). Actuar localmente, afectar globalmente: Escuelas Waldorf cambian el mundo.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.