Currently there are 36 kindergartens in Austria and a few more initiatives related to Waldorf education. There are 14 groups for toddlers and 9 playgroups (mother-child groups), mostly connected to established kindergartens.
With regard to the general situation in Waldorf kindergartens one can say that the demand for the education of children from birth-to-three and for full-day care is increasing. The kindergartens are busy and since 2009 the parents´financial contributions have been subsidized by the state to 80% – a fact, which attracts a wider range of families. Basically intensified work with the parents is required and more and more mobility and changing circumstances in the lives of the families and teachers as well are a growing challenge in running a kindergarten.
Training programs. In 1990 in order to provide Waldorf educational training in Austria it was most notably Brigitte Goldmann who brought the “Waldorf kindergarten seminar” into being in Vienna as a part-time training program with a three-year curriculum in monthly modules. The average number of being 45 is still increasing. Since 2002 Waldorf-Salzburg has offered a 3-year comprehensive training where kindergarten and school teachers can study together with special focus on kindergarten respectively school teacher training. The number of participants fluctuates around 15.There is also special training course for kindergarten teachers for children from birth-to-three, which has so far been held in three rounds at irregular intervals in Vienna/Graz, the last one ending in 2015.
Project on “school entrance phase” Due to the initiative of two Waldorf school teachers there is a comprehensive project on the transition from kindergarten to school running in Austria, which is designed to appeal to kindergarten and school teachers as well as to parents. Its first practical forum in 2014 was dealing with “School readiness”, the second will take place in October 2015 under the title “Creating transitions together” and will especially focus on the part of the parents.
Looking Back. In the middle of the 20-ies of the last century there was an intense anthroposophical life going on in Vienna and in the years following Rudolf Steiner´s death the enthusiasm for a renewed approach to education was vibrant. In 1927 the first Waldorf kindergarten came into being and the foundations for a school were laid with one comprehensive class combining 1st and 2nd grade. The school developed to its 10th grade along with the kindergarten, both were changing locations until 1938, when they had to be closed down for political reasons.
After the year 1945 it was first and foremost thanks to Bronja Zahlingen that a Waldorf kindergarten was founded again in 1955. However, it took time until 1972 and the support of school parents and donators to lay the founding stone for a new kindergarten building attached to the Rudolf Steiner School in Wien-Mauer (founded in 1967). Like in Vienna families with a pioneering spirit appeared also in the rest of Austria using their best forces to found kindergartens and schools in Linz, Klagenfurt, Graz, Salzburg, Wien-Pötzleinsdorf, Innsbruck, Schönau, Wien-West and Kufstein. Frequently an adequate place was found in historic buildings, with the exception of Salzburg, where generous private subsidization allowed to design and build a school.