The Official Website for The Waldorf Early Childhood Association of North America

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Heart In Hand Preschool, Portland Oregon

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Our Mission and Vision

WECAN’s mission is to foster a new cultural impulse for the work with the young child from pre-birth to age seven. Based on an anthroposophical understanding of human development, WECAN is committed to protecting and nurturing childhood as a foundation for renewing human culture.

WECAN provides direct dialogue with early childhood educators and their colleagues about the programs they design in institutions and in homes, and about how they define and develop their roles and their work with parents. Site visits, regional gatherings, and conferences allow WECAN to research and harvest the current needs of programs in the vast geography of the USA and in Canada. Its activity is currently limited in Mexico and we look forward to offering more support there in the future.

WECAN is the publisher of resource materials for Waldorf early childhood educators. WECAN seeks out the resources needed by early childhood teachers and publishes both original material and occasional translations from other languages in a wide range of areas, including child development, resources on mentoring and teacher review, practical activities for parent/child, nursery and kindergarten classes, and much more.

WECAN brings together collaborative research groups to focus on issues of concern in the Waldorf early childhood movement. These have included groups working on birth to three and childcare, meeting the needs of the older child in kindergarten, mentoring, teacher review, the transition from kindergarten to school, and work with medical doctors.

WECAN is linked to the world early childhood movement as a Full Member of the International Association for Steiner/Waldorf Early Childhood Education (IASWECE) with two North American representatives on the IASWECE Council. This link allows us to share research, news, and an awareness of the developing worldwide movement with North American early childhood educators, through e-newsletters, conference offerings, and publications. WECAN also raises funds to support North American Waldorf early childhood educators in participating in international Waldorf early childhood conference.

WECAN is directly concerned with the training of Waldorf early childhood educators through its Teacher Education Committee, which has established a Path to Membership for teacher education institutes based on Guidelines and Shared Principles developed in collaboration with the International Association. WECAN brings together early childhood trainers from throughout North America, providing opportunities to exchange healthy practices and improve the quality of the preparation of Waldorf early childhood educators.

In our work with children from pre-birth to age seven we are committed to the ideals and practices of Waldorf/Steiner early childhood education. Our activities are based on the insights of Rudolf Steiner, and on the continuing research of Waldorf/Steiner educators and other compatible pedagogical approaches.

We strive for diversity in the racial, cultural, religious, and socio-economic backgrounds of children coming to our schools. We strive to meet the unique developmental needs, capacities, and cultural background of each child.

We recognize that healthy child development takes place best in the context of a community based upon healthy social relationships among parents, teachers, and children, and we strive to create such conscious, collaborative communities around our care for children.

WECAN Diversity Statement

In our work with young children from pre-birth to age seven, WECAN is committed to the ideals upon which Waldorf/Steiner education was founded. These include respect for the dignity of each individual child and family in honoring diverse race, culture, religion, national origin, socioeconomic situation, gender identity and sexual orientation, family composition, and individual ability which form the backgrounds of their lives. Waldorf early childhood education is committed to supporting diversity, equity, and inclusion as a pathway to social justice and to rectify the explicit and implicit biases that undermine creation of healthy social life in our society.

Waldorf education was founded in 1919 upon the insights of Rudolf Steiner, whose indications provide the foundations for a truly humanized education that recognizes the individuality of each person and the universal spirit living within every human being. WECAN affirms this educational and social truth. Any statements attributed to Rudolf Steiner which imply or suggest discrimination or judgment toward any race, ethnicity, religion, gender or sexuality, or socio-economic group, are rejected. Such attitudes are contradictory and undermining to the goals of this education.

Working toward these goals requires committed inner work from the adults who care for our children. Teacher preparation and professional deepening call for each educator to engage in self-reflection that will ennoble inner attitudes to support diversity, inclusion, and equity. Recognizing and celebrating the differences that make us uniquely individual fosters healing and creation of new social life. We strive to create conscious, collaborative communities of parents, teachers, and children which strengthen the children in our care to meet future
challenges with optimism, confidence, resilience, and tolerance and experience their lives as filled with purpose and meaning.

WECAN Shared Principles

The WECAN Shared Principles form the basis of our understanding of our work together in association, and are used in our organizational membership application and self-study processes. As a living document, the Shared Principles will continue to be refined through the work of the Board, Regional Representatives, and Full Member schools and programs. The current version of the Shared Principles was adopted by the WECAN Board in February 2023.

Shared Principles for for schools/centers
Shared Principles for teacher education/institutes

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Waldorf kindergartens and early childhood programs in North America: see if there is a program in your area.
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Support the healthy and sustainable development of Waldorf education in North America

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Honeybirds Playschool, Brooklyn, NY

Join Us!

Individuals who wish to support and contribute to Waldorf early childhood education are invited to join WECAN. Schools, training centers, and home programs may also enter on the path of organizational membership.