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Waldorf Early Childhood Education with the Brain in Mind

Claudia Pfiffner


The problem under investigation was whether a toddler-specific curriculum is needed for public and Waldorf preschools. The growing need for preschools leads to the issue of what should these toddlers be taught. The current tendency is to use a simpler version of the kindergarten curriculum rather than to recognize the specific needs of a toddler and to offer activities that support this development. The literature reviewed included research on the brain in general and the developmentally sensitive areas which are emotional, sensory-motor, auditory, and visual functioning. A list of recommended educational activities from brain researchers was put together. An exploration of Waldorf early childhood pedagogy and its recommended educational activities followed. Activities from both fields were compared and contrasted and a new, toddler-specific curriculum was developed based on the findings from brain researchers and Waldorf principles.
The action-based research was conducted in the preschool classroom at Taos Waldorf School, New Mexico. The new toddler-specific curriculum was implemented there from August 2011 to January 2012. Data from four tools of measure showed consistent evidence of “developing” or “developed” functioning in the four developmentally sensitive areas for each participant. This was taken as evidence that the new curriculum was a major factor in meeting the needs of the preschool child and therefore was indicated for curriculum enhancement.