Academic Research

Please find below a list of academic articles relating to aspects of Waldorf Education. 

Please note that this list is not exhaustive and will be updated. 

Title: Toward media literacy or media addiction? Contours of good governance for healthy childhood in the digital world.
Author: Paula Bleckmann
Publication Date: March 2020

Abstract: Two separate discourses urgently need to be linked: How can we prevent digital risks, including clearly pathological forms of media use such as Internet Gaming Disorder? How can we support children in acquiring the skills which will allow them to make full use of the opportunities and potentials of digital media in the future? For good governance in bringing up healthy AND digitally literate children we need to master a number of challenges: 1) To find a common language, so that a fruitful transdisciplinary dialogue can take place between experts from different fields instead of them continuing to make contradictory recommendations. Such a problematic case is described in detail by contrasting the recommendations to follow an “Early High Touch – High Tech later” path, issued by experts studying digital risks (e.g. data security experts, as well as researchers studying long-term screen media effects on sleep, body mass index, empathy, executive brain functions and addictive symptoms) with the recommendations to follow an “Early High Tech” path, issued by experts studying digital chances (e.g. researchers developing digital learning environments for formal and informal educational settings). 2) To conduct sound and independent evaluation studies which assess the balance of long-term risks and benefits of different digital learning scenarios. 3) To base good governance in the field on the outcome of these studies. It is argued that far from mastering these challenges, favouring and hastily implementing the “Early High Tech” Path instead of the “Early High Touch – High Tech Later” Path has many characteristics of an (industry-driven) self-fulfilling prophecy and few of an informed political choice. Key words: technology assessment; digitalization in education; child health; digital risks; digital potentia 

Title: A glossary of terms relating to assessment
Author: Martyn Rawson
Publication Date: June 2021

Title: Learning about relationships, sexuality, gender and identity in Waldorf
education: potential problems and possible curriculum solutions

Author: Martyn Rawson
Publication Date: April 2021 

Abstract: The question of relationships, sexuality, gender and identity are central questions in education and like all important questions of curriculum, they have to be addressed in the context of the world we live in today, which has very different conditions to those when Waldorf education was first developed. In this exploratory paper I look at some of the issues relating to this area of the curriculum by taking an ecological and layered approach. The macro level identifies the universal developmental tasks facing children and young people, the meso level addresses the question of skills and knowledge the local national level, whilst the micro level is the task of the individual teacher in planning and reviewing her lessons at the school level. 

Title: The Advantages of a Later Start to Formal Education
Authors: Sue Palmer
Publication date: February 2021 

Title: Screen Time: a Health and Development Issue
Authors: Dr. Aric Sigman
Publication date: March 2021 

Title: Waldorf Education for the Future: A Framework for Curriculum Practice
Authors: Kath Bransby & Martyn Rawson
Publication date: February 2021

Title: Rethinking and Restructuring Waldorf Curricula: An On-Going Approach
Authors: Kath Bransby & Martyn Rawson
Publication date: 2022

Abstract: Can one re-imagine and re-frame a work of art? Can we fill in the gaps in Shakespeare’s plots, tidy up Rembrandt’s Night Watch and make the Disciples at Leonardo’s Last Supper more culturally representative? Can a work of art be upgraded, updated, even decolonised? In the context of the Waldorf curriculum this rhetorical question only applies if we see the curriculum as a work of art that cannot be modified in any substantial way (restoration, repair and footnotes aside). Our view is that the Waldorf curriculum is not art for the museum, conserved, canonized and curated, but rather an ongoing, iterative, rhizomic and emergent process.

 Title: The Humane Education of Waldorf
Authors: Kate Attfield
Publication date: 2024

Abstract: In this perspective paper I  propose to explore the remarkable humanitycentered education designed by the Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner (1861– 1925), along with his legacy in the form of the Waldorf schools that still serve children aged 3–18. Steiner was a polymath who could have been influenced by figures including the Roman playwright Terence, a freed slave who valued “humanity,” as well as the 16th Century Humanist Erasmus of Rotterdam, who was in favor of humane education. International Waldorf education is now over 100  years old and Steiner’s focus on educating the human being in a healthy and integrated manner remains central. This paper provides an exploratory overview of Steiner-Waldorf education and offers a critical reflection on issues sometimes raised against its theory and practice. I have interviewed 43 Waldorf teachers from schools in Germany, the US and the UK covering their individual evaluation of human and humane-focused Waldorf pedagogy. The paper concludes that, given external government support, it can remain a visionary movement and a stimulus to other educational systems. 

KEYWORDS Rudolf Steiner, Waldorf education, developing free human beings, three-fold nature of the human being, creative curriculum, education for the future 

Title: Exploring multiple intelligence theory prospects as a vehicle for discovering the relationship of neuroeducation with imaginative/waldorf pedagogy: A systematic literature review
Authors:  Mavrelos, M., & Daradoumis, T.
Publication Date: 2020

Abstract: Waldorf Education follows a holistic approach of children’s development, where the fundamental characteristics are creative/artistic activities, integrating imagination-based teaching methods to support and enhance the development of children’s and adolescents’ physical, social, emotional, and cognitive skills. Neuroeducation provides the most relevant level of analysis for resolving today’s core problems in education. Multiple Intelligence (MI) theory investigates ways of using the theory as a framework in school for improving work quality, collaborations, opportunities for choice, and a role for the arts. To that end, we provide a systematic literature review that critiques and synthesizes representative literature on these three topics in order to reveal new perspectives towards a novel transformative educational paradigm in a digitized society. A comprehensive analysis of theoretical and empirical articles between 2000 and 2019 is provided. The search included five main academic databases (ERIC, Web of Science, ScienceDirect, SpringerLink, and Scopus) using predefined selection criteria. In total, 321 different articles were screened, from which 43 articles met the predefined inclusion criteria. The results indicate a correlation between pedagogical practices of Waldorf schools and MI theory compatible teaching practices and between Waldorf schools and neuroeducation. Further empirical research examining different facets of this relationship is still needed to establish live and effective schools as Learning Organizations. 

Keywords: early childhood education; teaching methods; cognitive development; curriculum development; alternative education

Title: Psychological impacts of “screen time” and “green time” for children and adolescents: A systematic scoping review
Authors:  Tassia K. Oswald , Alice R. Rumbold, Sophie G. E. Kedzior, Vivienne M. Moore
Publication Date: 2020

Abstract:Technological developments in recent decades have increased young people’s engagement with screen-based technologies (screen time), and a reduction in young people’s contact with nature (green time) has been observed concurrently. This combination of high screen time and low green time may affect mental health and well-being. The aim of this systematic scoping review was to collate evidence assessing associations between screen time, green time, and psychological outcomes (including mental health, cognitive functioning, and academic achievement) for young children (<5 years), schoolchildren (5–11 years), early adolescents (12–14 years), and older adolescents (15–18 years). Original quantitative studies were identified in four databases (PubMed, PsycInfo, Scopus, Embase), resulting in 186 eligible studies. A third of included studies were undertaken in Europe and almost as many in the United States. The majority of studies were cross-sectional (62%). In general, high levels of screen time appeared to be associated with unfavourable psychological outcomes while green time appeared to be associated with favourable psychological outcomes. The ways screen time and green time were conceptualised and measured were highly heterogeneous, limiting the ability to synthesise the literature. The preponderance of cross-sectional studies with broadly similar findings, despite heterogeneous exposure measures, suggested results were not artefacts. However, additional high-quality longitudinal studies and randomised controlled trials are needed to make a compelling case for causal relationships. Different developmental stages appeared to shape which exposures and outcomes were salient. Young people from low socioeconomic backgrounds may be disproportionately affected by high screen time and low green time. Future research should distinguish between passive and interactive screen activities, and incidental versus purposive exposure to nature. Few studies considered screen time and green time together, and possible reciprocal psychological effects. However, there is preliminary evidence that green time could buffer consequences of high screen time, therefore nature may be an under-utilised public health resource for youth psychological well-being in a high-tech era

Title: The “feeling-life” journey of the grade school child: An investigation into inclusive young citizenship in international Waldorf education. 
Authors: Kate Attfield
Publication Date: 2023

Abstract: Rudolf Steiner’s international Waldorf education is comparatively under-researched for a 100-year-old education movement which thrives globally. What is further unknown in academic educational circles is the specific study of the “feeling-life,” the middle period of childhood in Waldorf education, of children aged 7 through 14. This article assesses the holistic nature of the Waldorf grade school, and its child-centered, creative pedagogy. Using work by Lani Florian and colleagues, the article scrutinizes the extent to which Waldorf education is able and well-suited to accommodate all learner types. Fifteen Waldorf teaching advisors and teacher trainers from the U.S., the UK and Germany were invited to assess the inclusive outlook of their Waldorf grade school. The findings show internationally and inter-regionally diverse and contrasting practices; a route informed by inclusive pedagogy sustains child development and leads to young citizenship. Recommendations are of productive collaboration between schools’ networks and for Waldorf educational studies to forge connections with the wider educational academic sphere, and to share their application of creativity and restorative and inclusive practices 

Title: School Starting Age- The Evidence 
Authors: University of Cambridge
Publication Date: 2010

Abstract: This is a brief review of the relevant research from 2010 which overwhelmingly supports a later start to formal education. This evidence relates to the contribution of playful experiences to children’s development as learners, and the consequences of starting formal learning at the age of four to five years of age 

Title: Appropriate school starting age: A focus on the cognitive and social development of a child 
Authors: Mahwish Ali Baber
Publication Date: 2016

Abstract: The early years are the most important in the emotional, social, physical and cognitive development of a child.. A child’s early experiences have an immense impact on the development of his/ her physical, emotional and cognitive skills. Therefore, it is very important to understand the kind of environment children need in the early years for their healthy development and also to understand when it is appropriate to begin their schooling in order to optimize their social, cognitive and emotional well-being. It is observed that the number of formal pre-schools have increased drastically in the past few years. Children between the ages of one to five are attending these pre-schools. This paper attempts to look into the various researches conducted to find out how early childhood experiences affect children; how their emotional and cognitive development occurs; and most importantly, whether or not starting school at an age earlier than seven years, benefits their academic achievement in the long run. The findings of the various researches indicate that children in the early years need to spend time in free play rather than in structured and scheduled school environments. This will also help them in their future academic success. Thus, starting school earlier than seven years of age is not beneficial socially or academically in the long run. 

Keywords: Academic performance, cognitive development theory, early childhood education 

Title:  A Systematic Review Protocol to Identify the Key Benefits and Efficacy of Nature-Based Learning in Outdoor Educational Settings.
Authors:  Mann, J., Gray, T., Truong, S., Sahlberg, P., Bentsen, P., Passy, R., Ho, S., Ward, K., & Cowper, R.
Publication Date: 2021

Abstract:  Outdoor Learning in natural environments is a burgeoning approach in the educational sector. However, the evidence-base of research has not kept pace with teacher perceptions and increased practitioner usage. Anecdotal evidence and formal research suggest the significant health and wellbeing benefits of nature connection. Offering low-cost, non-invasive pedagogical solutions to public health challenges—particularly around mental health, wellbeing, physical literacy, and increasing physical activity–the pedagogical benefits of Outdoor Learning are yet to be fully enunciated. The proposed systematic review will search for studies across eight academic databases which measure the academic and socio-emotional benefits of Outdoor Learning, with a focus on school-aged educational settings. Using the inclusion criteria set out in this paper (and registered with PROSPERO: CRD42020153171), relevant studies will be identified then summarised to provide a synthesis of the current literature on Outdoor Learning. The goal of this review is to document the widespread international investigation into Outdoor Learning and its associated benefits for development, wellbeing, and personal growth. The systematic review will provide insights for teacher-training institutions, educational policy makers, and frontline teachers to improve the learning experiences of future students. 

Keywords: Outdoor Learning; health; natural environments; socio-emotional; systematic review; protocol; wellbeing

Title:   Outdoor learning in early childhood education: exploring benefits and challenge
Authors:  Kiviranta, L., Lindfors, E., Rönkkö, M.-L., & Luukka, E.
Publication Date: 2024

Abstract: Background: Studies indicate that access to nature may increase general human health and wellbeing. As a learning environment, the outdoors can also positively influence children’s personal and social growth, healthy development, wellbeing and learning abilities. To maximise the potential offered by outdoor learning, it is necessary to gain deeper understanding of its implementation, particularly in early childhood education and care (ECEC) settings.

 Purpose: This review study sought to explore a small subset of relevant literature in detail, in order to identify and describe the noted benefits and challenges of implementing outdoor learning in early childhood. 

Method: A narrative synthesis was undertaken. In total, 20 studies from 10 different countries on learning outdoors during ECEC were selected for in-depth analysis and synthesis. The benefits and challenges of outdoor learning implementation in ECEC were identified and categorised using thematic analysis. 

Findings: The analysis yielded a detailed description of the opportunities, preconditions and resources for outdoor learning. Six datadriven categories emerged (i) children’s holistic development; (ii) health and wellbeing; (iii) multimodal, hands-on learning opportunities; (iv) experiences in and of nature; (v) teachers as mediators; and (vi) the organisation of outdoor learning. Overall, these categories suggested that three main elements need to be considered when planning and implementing outdoor learning: as well as providing experiences in and of nature for children, outdoor learning may benefit the holistic wellbeing and well-rounded development of children and can offer multimodal, hands-on learning opportunities. According to the analysis, one of the main challenges related to teachers’ understanding and knowledge around organising and implementing outdoor learning opportunities for young children. 

Conclusion: In addition to highlighting the compelling potential benefits of outdoor learning in ECEC, the study findings draw attention to the need for teachers to be supported in developing the required competences to implement outdoor learning. In particular, introducing multimodal outdoor learning into educational practice necessitates pre- and in-service teacher education and professional development. 

Title:  Spiritual moments making music in nature. A study exploring the experiences of children making music outdoors, surrounded by nature.
Adams, D., & Beauchamp, G.
Publication Date:

Abstract:  Outdoor learning is recognised internationally as an essential part of a child’s holistic education and children’s wellbeing can be improved when being outdoors surrounded by nature. However, there is a growing body of evidence that suggests children are becoming disconnected from nature. This study investigated the experiences of six classes of children aged 7–11 years from six primary schools making music outdoors in rural locations in Wales over a two-year period. Groups of children from each school undertook semi-structured inter- views using video-stimulated reflective dialogue (VSRD). Their teachers also took part in semi-structured interviews, without VSRD. The data suggest children’s music making involved interactivity with nature provoking biophilic responses. The analysis revealed they experienced extraordinary, transcen- dent or what might be called spiritual moments. Evidence is analysed with conceptions of spirituality, communitas and philosophy of dialogue 

Title: Play’s relation to health and well-being in preschool and kindergarten: a Waldorf (Steiner) education perspective. International Journal of Play, 3(1), 9–23.
Sobo, E. J.
Publication Date:

Abstract: In most US pre-k/kindergartens play is justified as serving academic goals. However, Waldorf education, an independent alternative to public schooling, leverages play to promote child health and well-being. This paper examines Waldorf education's approach to play with reference to the underlying cultural model of/for child development that Waldorf teachers subscribe to. It describes how teachers orchestrated play in four pre-k/kindergarten classrooms and examines, from the teacher perspective, how keeping children 'in movement' both physically and spiritually encourages healthful sensory-motor integration while nourishing children's 'will forces' and ensuring good health and flexible thinking in adulthood. In addition to providing insight into how we might foster more play in non-Waldorf settings and informing the theoretical construction of play-as-mood, the findings indicate that Waldorf education is not immune to the work-play opposition common to US educational discourse; accordingly, the pedagogic and paediatric work done by play becomes a selling point for the system.

To access this article, please see here

Title: Meeting the child in Steiner kindergartens : an exploration of beliefs, values and practices (1st ed.)
Parker-Rees, Rod
Publication Date:
2014 by Routledge ( Please note that this is a book) 

Abstract: What can early years practitioners learn from Steiner kindergartens?

What is distinctive about Steiner kindergarten teachers’ ways of getting to know children?

As demands for accountability in Early Years settings continue to grow, external pressure to assess children and to measure their progress can disrupt the development of informal and intimate relationships between teachers and children.

The contributors to this book, who include both experienced Steiner educators and early childhood experts from other backgrounds, have worked together to explore and understand what is distinctive about Steiner kindergarten practice. They present a variety of perspectives on the ways in which kindergarten teachers’ practices, values and beliefs can help children to find and construct their own identities, through play and through engagement in the life of their community.

The authors explore key aspects of Steiner kindergarten practice, including caring for the physical environment, establishing rhythms and routines for children’s activity, and providing times and spaces in which teachers and children can get to know each other. By meeting with children and teachers, through rich accounts of day to day life in kindergartens and through accounts of the values and principles which inform their practice, readers will be encouraged to question and reflect on their own approaches to observation and assessment.