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

kids walking in rain

Halton Waldorf School, Toronto CA

color bar

Growing Healthy Children

What do children need to grow and learn in a healthy way? Love, joy, and warm human relationships are essential, along with nourishing food and plenty of sleep. Otherwise, the child’s basic needs could be described as security and freedom. Just as the mother’s body provides a safe, protected environment within which the child’s own body grows, in the first years of life we need to provide a safe haven within which the child has freedom to exercise, explore, and develop her individuality. Waldorf educators work with these polarities in many ways; here are a few that can be added to out of your own observation and experience.


When a child is born they enter a world that brings an array of impressions. Unlike an adult, a newborn cannot filter these impressions.   We can help the child to gradually come into the world by attuning to ourselves and our children and providing an intentional  environment, aware of the young child’s needs for slowness and a low-stimulus environment.

Providing physical warmth is also very important for young children. They are not yet able to self-regulate their temperature, and their energy needs to go into growth and organ development rather than maintaining body heat. In colder climates, several layers of clothing are needed, and hats protect the child’s sensitive head in all weathers.

A regular daily rhythm is another source of security. Adults crave variety; young children crave repetition. They themselves are changing so rapidly that they need a stable external environment, and—along with familiar surroundings and a consistent caregiver—this includes the basic sequence of events in their day, their week and their year. 


First of all, children need freedom of movement. From the moment of birth they are engaged in a process to grow and develop their bodies, brains and emotional life through movement. As they continue to acquire more skills, from walking on tiptoe to jumping rope, they stimulate the brain and form a firm basis for later learning, as well as for a confident and flexible approach to life.

In the feeling realm, the child’s imagination also needs to develop freely. When a child is surrounded with images and play objects that are not too “finished,” their natural powers of image creation step in, and grow ever stronger.  A well developed imagination allows the child to move into adulthood ready to explore what is possible and not just what already exists.

Screen time reduces movement time, gives the child pre-existing pictures and thus adversely affects brain development.

It is astonishing how the child’s free, individual self manifests itself from the moment of birth, and some mothers even experience it during pregnancy. When we perceive this, we will treat the child as a being worthy of dignity and respect from day one. This does not mean giving in to every demand or entering into endless verbal debates; rather, we can strive to provide a model of calm, decisive authority, as well as gratitude and reverence for what is higher than us.


Beginning Well
Childhood’s Garden
Childhood Falls Silent
Creating a Home for Body, Soul, and Spirit
Singing and Speaking the Child into Life
Trust and Wonder
Walking with our Children: The Parent as Companion and Guide


Conscious Parenting Guide
Beginning Well Website

children playing
Semillero Comunalidad Educativa, Tijunana MX

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.

Find A Program

child playing showing dirty hands

Waldorf kindergartens and early childhood programs in North America: see if there is a program in your area.
Find a program >

WECAN Bookstore

Check out our online store for WECAN books and other resources.

Online Waldorf Library

Useful information for Waldorf teachers, parents, homeschoolers, and anyone interested in Waldorf education.

Follow us on Facebook and Instagram!

Donate to WECAN

Support the healthy and sustainable development of Waldorf education in North America