In Ukraine there are currently 4 Waldorf kindergartens; each is part of a Waldorf school. They are located in the large cities of Kiev, Krivoi Rog, Dnjepropetrovsk und Odessa, where it is difficult to have a real connection to nature.
Three kindergartens are government-supported; however, the parents pay additional school fees. The kindergarten in Odessa is private and financed solely through parent contributions. According to the current education laws, children must go to school at age six. However, the law is not strictly enforced, and parents can decide whether to send their child to school at age six or age seven. In the Waldorf school the youngest children in each class are those who turned six in May.
Waldorf education, for both schools and kindergartens, is officially recognized by the Ministry of Education as a form of alternative education. At this time Waldorf education is in strong demand and there is a lot of interest in general for Waldorf education.
Working together. Waldorf schools and kindergartens work together in the “Association of Waldorf Educational Initiatives” in Ukraine. Kindergarten teachers meet each year in springtime for a national meeting.
Training. All educators in Ukraine must complete a state education training. In addition, Waldorf educators complete a three-year part-time training at the Ukrainian Waldorf Training Seminar. In the first year, teacher trainees and early childhood trainees complete a regional foundation studies course at a Waldorf school in either Kiev, Krivoy Rog, Dnepropetrovsk or Odessa. In the second and third year they specialize and the training course moves from one city to another.
The Child from Birth to Three. Several years ago a further education course on the child from birth to three was taught by Edith Frey from Stockholm. In the Odessa Waldorf Kindergarten there is a group for children between two and four years old. There is no Waldorf child care in Ukraine.
Looking back. The first Waldorf kindergarten and first Waldorf School were founded in 1993 in Odessa. Training courses for teachers and early childhood educators began in 1994, which led to the founding of Waldorf schools in the large cities. Earlier there were more Waldorf kindergartens than today. For various reasons, mostly financial, several were forced to close their doors after a few years.
Current questions. The political and economic crisis, chaos and a loss of values characterize the mood in the country at the moment. For educators, the following issues are therefore very important: forms of collaboration among colleagues, self-administration, the self-education of the educator, and the work with parents.
Svitlana Eks is a Waldorf educator in Odessa, a faculty member in the kindergarten training and a member of the IASWECE Council.