Waldorf kindergartens are integrated into elementary schools in Holland, as are all kindergartens in the country. Since each of the 90 Waldorf elementary schools has an average of 3 kindergarten groups, there are therefore approximately 270 kindergarten groups in Holland. There are nearly 19,000 pupils in Waldorf kindergartens, elementary schools and high schools.
The Waldorf schools gave themselves the name „Vrijeschool“ (Free School) in order to make visible their independent from government regulations. The Dutch constitution guarantees that parents have free choice in education. This means that all schools receive government support and at the same time have great freedom to develop their own curriculum. This has had a decisive influence on the development of Waldorf schools. The school authorities check regularly to make sure that Waldorf schools, despite their great freedom, are meeting the prescribed basic standards. The Waldorf movement is trying to maintain a good relationship with the school authorities and at the same time to develop its own identity.
This has proven to be a good approach – more and more parents are choosing Waldorf education for their child. In 2014/15 8 new schools were founded and all Waldorf schools have waiting lists. The government is interested in learning why Waldorf education is so popular, and articles appear regularly in the press about the importance of free play and the dangers of early academic learning.
Training. The training center for Waldorf education in Leiden offers a four-year, full-time training in Waldorf education. In the first two years there is an introduction to Waldorf pedagogy and artistic activities, and the third and fourth years focus on methods and didactics, either for the kindergarten or the school. Part-time study is also available.
Birth to Three. There are many different forms of activity for the child from birth to three: child care centers that part of schools, home day care mothers, play groups at home, etc. A new “Association for Anthroposophical Care of the Young Child” is in the process of forming.
Looking Back. Waldorf education has existed in Holland since 1922, when the first Waldorf School outside Germany was founded in the Hague. Rudolf Steiner held a whole series of pedagogical lectures here. Waldorf education has therefore become a solid component of the Dutch school system.In the 70’s and 80’s there was a first boom and it now looks as if are experiencing a second strong phase of growth.
Joyceline Roy, Waldorf kindergarten teacher in Delft/ Netherlands and member of the IASWECE Council