Learning Letters the Waldorf Way

“The heart of the Waldorf method is that education is an art- It must speak to the child’s experience. To educate the whole child, his heart and his will must be reached, as well as the mind. ”

Rudolph Steiner

I am not a Waldorf certified teacher, nor a certified teacher of any means. Nor did I ever finish art College. So, these drawings and their use in Waldorf education is based solely on my personal experience of my daughter attending a Waldorf School for 3 years, my volunteering at said school, and my personal experience of homeschooling my children  in a Waldorf inspired method. However, If you are unfamiliar with Waldorf education, and more specifically, the means of teaching the alphabet in said method, I believe I can offer a few morsels of information as well as a few tips.

In Waldorf Education, letters are introduced to children when they are in 1st grade at age 6 or 7. They are taught through stories, full body movement, and illustrations (as well as even more methods). It is wonderful for a child to think G is for goose because goose makes a G sound. However, Waldorf education takes it one step further to make the G become the goose. G is not simply for Goose. A G is a goose. This helps children not only learn what sound letters make but also which shape letters take. When practicing writing, have you ever heard a child ask, “How do I write a G (or any other letter)?”? When my daughter comes to me with questions like this I can simply remind her of the drawings she has studied and made herself. “A G looks like a Goose, remember our drawings?”

Which brings me to my next point. It is not enough for a child to simply look at a letter drawing or to simply color one in. He or She must make it their own. I find it is best to start with the letter itself and then to turn it into the depiction, rather than turning a depiction into the letter. However, I have seen it done by professionals both ways. It starts the process of muscle memory. The simple act of drawing connects the movement of writing to the imagination and memory of the mind.  So why do I offer a coloring page?  Oh just for fun and freebies! I don’t recommend using it for lessons unless it is to help littles feel a part of the learning or to keep hands busy during story time. Maybe you want to do things your own way though, and thats rad too. I’d love to see how you use my coloring page and letter prints! Find my G print/printable here and the coloring page below.

Do you have to use these specific illustrations to teach letters? Of course not! Come up with any that you like, and even encourage your child to try and come up with their own! If creating new ones, keep in mind pictures that depict movement are more interactive and imaginative (thus better for learning) than those that are stagnant. For example, a curious goose looking back at it’s tail invites movement and story to a mental image.