The Sophia Institute online Waldorf Certificate Program concerns itself with basic and underlying principles of Waldorf Education, curriculum suggestions and practice, and Waldorf methods. In addition, relatedsubjects such as Waldorf administration, artistic courses, internships, and research projects are included in the program. The knowledge and understanding of the basic principles is essential for anyone embarking on or deepening their study - and ultimately the practical application - of this teaching method.
Students may enroll in the complete Waldorf Teacher Training Certificate Program, or enroll in one or more of the individual courses for renewal or professional development. Please find a listing and description of the Waldorf Teacher Training individual courses below.
For information concerning the individual courses, please see below.
The online Human Development course is based on studying and working with lectures given by Rudolf Steiner in 1919. These preparatory lectures were given to the teachers of the original Waldorf School in Stuttgart, the first School to be founded on the work of Rudolf Steiner. They are not, however, only concerned with education; they contain Steiner's fundamental views on the psychology of man.
Steiner's psychology differs from all other psychologies in that it takes into account not only the forces playing into man from the past, but also states of consciousness and being which will not be realized till the far distant future, but which are already affecting his character and destiny. It is in the balancing out of the past with the future that man escapes determinism and finds his true nature as a free being. In this lies the importance of these lectures. All students of psychology, and not only teachers, will find in them new light on the absorbing riddle of the human being.
All new things have to find their unique vocabulary and the reader will find some unfamiliar terms in these lectures. But as Steiner's picture of the human being unfolds, they will gradually assume shape and meaning.
Lesson 1: Foreword/Lectures I, II, III
Lesson 2: Lectures IV, V, VI
Lesson 3: Lectures VII, VIII, IX
Lesson 4: Lectures X, XI, XII
Lesson 5: Lectures XIII, XIV, Final Paper
The course The Essential Nature of the Human Being provides the student with an in-depth study of Steiner's view of the human as a being of body, soul, and spirit. It introduces the different aspects of the human being: the physical body, the etheric body, the astral body, and the ego, and how they relate to each other and the world. This course is based on Steiner's book "Theosophy" and is essential to an understanding of the human being, of children, and of child development.
“The Corporeal Nature of Man. We learn to know man's body through bodily senses, and the manner of observing it cannot differ from the way in which we learn to know other objects perceived by the senses. As we observe minerals, plants and animals, so can we also observe man. The Soul Nature of Man. Man's soul nature as his own inner world is different from his bodily nature. When attention is turned to even the simplest sensation, what is personally his own comes at once to the fore. Thus no one can know whether one person perceives even a simple sensation in exactly the same way as another. The Spiritual Nature of Man. The soul nature of man is not determined by the body alone. Man does not wander aimlessly and without purpose from one sensation to another, nor does he act under the influence of every casual incitement that plays upon him either from without or through the processes of his body. He thinks about his perceptions and his acts. By thinking about his perceptions he gains knowledge of things. By thinking about his acts he introduces a reasonable coherence into his life. He knows that he will worthily fulfill his duty as a man only when he lets himself be guided by correct thoughts in knowing as well as in acting.” (from chapter 1 of Theosophy by Rudolf Steiner)
The Essential Nature of the Human Being
Lesson 1: The Essential Nature of the Human Being/Body, Soul and Spirit/Theosophy/Chapter 1 (I., II., III.)
Lesson 2: The Essential Nature of the Human Being/Physical Body, Etheric Body, Astral Body and Ego/Theosophy/Chapter 1 (IV. Part 1)
Lesson 3: Body, Soul and Spirit/Life Phases/Theosophy/Chapter 1 (IV. Part 2)
Lesson 4: Reflection and Final Paper
"Just as our body has to have nutritive substances circulating through the organism, the soul needs fairy tale substance flowing through its spiritual veins." - Rudolf Steiner
There is a big difference in whether or not one has a child grow up with fairy tales. The soul-stirring nature of fairy-tale pictures becomes evident only later on. If fairy tales have not been given, this shows itself in later years as weariness of life and boredom. Indeed, it even comes to expression physically; fairy tales can help counter illnesses. What is absorbed little by little by means of fairy tales emerges subsequently as joy in life, in the meaning of life—it comes to light in the ability to cope with life, even into old age. Children must experience the power inherent in fairy tales while young, when they can still do so. Whoever is incapable of living with ideas that have no reality for the physical plane ‘dies’ for the spiritual world.
This course The Wisdom of Fairy Tales brings to the student the rich and deep insights that the Anthroposophical world view has to offer in regards to the subject of fairy tales. Fairy tales and the art of storytelling are integral parts of Waldorf/Steiner education.
The Wisdom of Fairy Tales
Lesson 1: The Poetry of Fairy Tales / Part 1
Lesson 2: The Poetry of Fairy Tales / Part 2
Lesson 3: The Interpretation of Fairy Tales / Part 1
Lesson 4: The Interpretation of Fairy Tales / Part 2
Lesson 5: Creative Writing and Fairy Tales
This course is based on the work of Karl Koenig, MD, and covers the developmental phases of early childhood with a focus on the first three years and the unfolding of the child's ability to walk, learn to speak, and the awakening of thinking based on the prior acquirement of speaking and language proficiency.
Rudolf Steiner called them the spiritual gifts: walking, speaking, and thinking. These gifts make it possible for the human being to ultimately become what he or she is, a unique being endowed with cognition and the quest for one's own self. These gifts form the foundation for the development of the three highest human senses, the sense of speech, the sense of thought and the sense of ego. It is only when these senses are recognized to be the result of the development of walking, speaking and thinking that a true understanding of the awakening of the human being's spirit during the first three years of life can be gained.
The study material for this course includes the book The First Three Years of the Child by Karl Koenig, MD.
The First Three Years of the Child
Lesson 1: Introduction
Lesson 2: Acquisition of the Ability to Walk Upright
Lesson 3: Learning One's Native Language
Lesson 4: The Awakening of Thinking
Lesson 5: The Unfolding of the Three Highest Senses
Lesson 6: Reflection and Final Paper
The Waldorf early childhood educator works with the young child by creating a warm, beautiful and loving home-like environment, which is protective and secure, and where things happen in a predictable, rhythmic manner. Here she responds to the developing child in two basic ways: First, she engages in domestic, practical, and artistic activities the children can readily imitate (for example, baking, painting, gardening, and handicrafts), adapting the work to the changing seasons and festivals of the year. Secondly, the Waldorf kindergarten teacher nurtures the children’s power of imagination by telling carefully selected stories and by encouraging free play. This free or fantasy play, in which children act out scenarios of their own creation, helps them to experience many aspects of life more deeply. When toys are used, they are made of natural materials. Wood, cotton, wool, silk, shells, stones, pine cones and objects from nature that the children themselves have collected are used in play and to beautify the room. Sensory integration, eye-hand coordination, appreciating the beauty of language, sequencing, and other basic skills necessary for the foundation of academic learning are fostered in the kindergarten. In this truly loving, natural and creative environment, children are provided with a range of activities to prepare them for later learning and for life itself.
"Is there a Waldorf early childhood curriculum? Are there specific activities—puppet plays, circle games, watercolor painting, for example—that are essential to a Waldorf program? Are there certain materials and furnishings—lazured, soft-colored walls, handmade dolls, beeswax crayons, silk and other natural materials—that are necessary ingredients in a Waldorf setting? What makes Waldorf early childhood education 'Waldorf'? Rudolf Steiner spoke on a number of occasions about the experiences that are essential for the healthy development of the young child. These include:
love and warmth; an environment that nourishes the senses; creative and artistic experiences; meaningful adult activity to be imitated; free, imaginative play; protection of the forces of childhood; gratitude, reverence, and wonder; joy, humor, and happiness; adult caregivers pursuing a path of inner development." (- Susan Howard, WECAN/IASWECE Coordinator)
Early Childhood Education 1
Lesson 1: You Are Your Child's First Teacher
Lesson 2: Home Life as the Basis for All Learning
Lesson 3: Birth to Three: Growing Down and Waking Up
Lesson 4: Helping Your Baby's Development
Lesson 5: Helping Your Toddler's Development
Lesson 6: Rhythm in Home Life
Lesson 7: Discipline and Other Parenting Issues
Lesson 8: Reflection and Final Paper/Early Childhood Education 1
Early Childhood Education 2
Lesson 1: Nourishing Your Child's Imagination and Creative Play
Lesson 2: Developing Your Child's Artistic Ability
Lesson 3: Encouraging your Child's Musical Ability
Lesson 4: Cognitive Development and Early Childhood Education
Lesson 5: Common Parenting Question: From Television to Immunizations
Lesson 6: Help for the Journey
Lesson 7: Reflection and Final Paper/Early Childhood Education 2
The online Waldorf Certificate Studies Program Course Evolving Consciousness concerns itself with basic and underlying principles of Waldorf Education. The knowledge and understanding of these principles is essential for anyone embarking on or deepening their study and ultimately their practical application of this teaching method based on the insights and teachings of Anthroposophy.
There are the following three fundamental principles.
1. The human being (the child and the adult alike) is not only a physical being but also a being of soul and spirit relating to soul and spirit realities.
2. The child in growing up recapitulates the development of consciousness of humanity and education needs to be tailored and moderated in such a way that it is truly age appropriate meaning relating to the developing consciousness of the child out of insights into the reality of the development of consciousness of humanity.
3. The Waldorf (or Steiner) Educator needs to be on a conscious path of self development, being at the same time a seeker of spiritual truth and a practitioner of a therapeutic and artistic teaching approach.
The course Evolving Consciousness includes an in-depth study of Rudolf Steiner's fundamental work: An Outline of Esoteric Science.
A curriculum could be compared to the list of ingredients for a recipe. However good the recipe, the quality of the ingredients is crucial but to make a start the components also need to be available. The distinctive qualities of the Steiner-Waldorf curriculum framework are, we believe, unique, and include:
These courses concern themselves with specific lectures given by Rudolf Steiner concerning the Four Temperaments under the heading "Anthroposophy in Everyday Life". The courses address how the insights of Anthroposophy can be applied to practical aspects of our lives, change our thinking and feeling, and help us with the task of self-development. These courses are of interest to anyone who wants to deepen their experience of Anthroposophical research, prepare for teaching, become a better parent or simply wants to understand the world-view of Anthroposophy using a practical approach. In these courses the student will be guided through an in-depth study of original lectures by Rudolf Steiner. The lectures are given in their original form but divided into ten segments which each constitute the basis for the ten lessons of the course. Each lesson includes the study of a portion of the lectures, tasks and questions, and the necessary background material. The tasks and questions are designed in such fashion that they contribute to a deepening of the understanding of the study material and insights of Anthroposophy, relate the text to our modern time, and provide guidance to the student through the exercises detailed in Steiner's lectures. The student will not only gain a better understanding of Anthroposophy and Waldorf Education, but also experience self development and inspiration, the result of which can be applied to any task in life.
Rudolf Steiner published "The Education of the Child in the Light of Anthroposophy" in 1907. In this publication Steiner presented the basis of the educational approach that later would become the foundation of what is today known as Waldorf Education, and has been developed from the beginnings of the first Waldorf School founded by Rudolf Steiner and Emil Molt in Stuttgart, Germany in 1919 to being today a worldwide movement that has established itself all over thee world as the most innovative and dynamic educational movement in our modern time.
In "The Education of the Child in the Light of Anthroposophy" Steiner developed first the basic ideas that later became the cornerstones of this new form of education. Steiner addresses the nurture versus nature and the clash of cultures and worldviews surrounding this theme from a spiritual point of view. Steiner presented the basic concepts of the essential nature of the human being in body, soul and spirit, and Steiner discusses the physical body, etheric body, astral body and ego. Steiner presents the background to what is truly age appropriate education with the idea that the child in growing up recapitulates the development of consciousness of humanity while going through stages or phases of incarnation. Steiner outlines the differing educational approaches necessary to teach children during early childhood, during the grade school years, during high school and during later life as an adult.
The celebration of festivals is an important part of Waldorf/Steiner education. A festival is a joyous celebration of life, and has the quality of lifting us out of the ordinary and into the mysteries and magic of the rhythm of the seasons. Throughout history, festivals have emerged from people’s connection with their spiritual life and their search for the meaning of human existence. The celebrations are interwoven with the life of the earth and the cycles of nature. Many faith-based traditions recognize the spiritual realities behind different passages during the year, and that is why special observances cluster together on the calendar. In the Waldorf tradition, festivals are meant to reflect the spiritual reality of what is happening to the earth during important passages during the year. For example, we can experience the autumn in a natural way as we watch the colorful changing of the leaves, feel the crispness in the air, and taste the tartness of a newly picked apple. We can experience it also, in a spiritual way, if we begin to perceive the beauty around us. The awe of a special sunset can quicken a sense of reverence, stir us to voice a few poetic lines, or feel an inner peace. A common experience of joy and reverence is what allows a festival at a particular time of year to unite a whole community. Singing, dancing, stories, food and sharing are all a part of the festivals of the year. The Waldorf/Steiner teacher should develop an inner appreciation and knowledge of the deep mysteries connected with the festivals. This inner experience of and reverence for the festivals can then flow outward into the celebration of the festivals with the children and the school community. The Waldorf/Steiner teacher needs to become a guide to and guardian of the festivals. The inner joy that we can experience when we approach the festivals and their celebration with a devotional attitude can spread outwards and inspire others: the children, colleagues, and the whole the school community.
The Festivals and Their Meaning 1
Lesson 1: Michaelmas (Part 1)
Lesson 2: Michaelmas (Part 2)
Lesson 3: Christmas (Part 1)
Lesson 4: Christmas (Part 2)
Lesson 5: Reflection and Final Paper/Festivals and Their Meaning 1
The Festivals and Their Meaning 2
Lesson 1: Easter (Part 1)
Lesson 2: Easter (Part 2)
Lesson 3: Ascension and Pentecost (Part 1)
Lesson 4: Ascension and Pentecost (Part 2)
Lesson 5: Reflection and Final Paper/Festivals and Their Meaning 2
Language is our most important means of mutual understanding and is therefore the primary medium of education. It is also a highly significant formative influence in the child’s psychological and spiritual development and its cultivation is central to the educational tasks of Steiner/Waldorf education. It is the aim of the curriculum to cultivate language skills and awareness in all subjects and teaching settings. Clearly the teaching of the mother tongue has a pivotal role within the whole education.
Mathematics in the Waldorf school is divided into stages. In the first stage, which covers the first five classes, mathematics is developed as an activity intimately connected to the life process of the child, and progresses from the internal towards the external. In the second stage, covering classes 6 to 8, the main emphasis is on the practical.
Waldorf Methods/Reading and Math 1
Lesson 1: Introduction
Lesson 2: Reading/1st Grade
Lesson 3: Reading/2nd Grade
Lesson 4: Reading/3rd Grade
Lesson 5: Math/1st Grade
Waldorf Methods/Reading and Math 2
Lesson 1: Math/2nd Grade
Lesson 2: Math/3rd Grade
Lesson 3: Reading/4th Grade
Lesson 4: Reading/5th Grade
Lesson 5: Reading/6th Grade
Waldorf Methods/Reading and Math 3
Lesson 1: Math/4th Grade
Lesson 2: Math/5th Grade
Lesson 3: Math/6th Grade
Lesson 4: Reading/7th and 8th Grade
Lesson 5: Math/7th and 8th Grade
" ... ancient wisdom contained no contradiction between body and soul or between nature and spirit; because one knew: Spirit is in man in its archetypal form; the soul is none other than the message transmitted by spirit; the body is the image of spirit. Likewise, no contract was felt between man and surrounding nature because one bore an image of spirit in one's own body, and the same was true of every body in external nature. Hence, an inner kinship was experienced between one's own body and those in outer nature, and nature was not felt to be different from oneself. Man felt himself at one with the whole world. He could feel this because he could behold the archetype of spirit and because the cosmic expanses spoke to him. In consequence of the universe speaking to man, science simply could not exist. Just as we today cannot build a science of external nature out of what lives in our memory, ancient man could not develop one because, whether he looked into himself or outward at nature, he beheld the same image of spirit. No contrast existed between man himself and nature, and there was none between soul and body. The correspondence of soul and body was such that, in a manner of speaking, the body was only the vessel, the artistic reproduction, of the spiritual archetype, while the soul was the mediating messenger between the two. Everything as in a state of intimate union. There could be no question of comprehending anything. We grasp and comprehend what is outside our own life. Anything that we carry within ourselves is directly experienced and need not be first comprehended. ... Precisely because man had lost the connection with nature, he now sought a science of nature from outside." - Rudolf Steiner in "The Origins of Natural Science."
In Waldorf education, the science subjects do not start with nor are built from theories and formulas. Rather they start with the phenomena and develop in an experiential way, by first presenting the phenomenon, having the students make detailed observations, then guiding the students to derive the concepts that arise from the phenomena, and finally deriving the scientific formulas and laws behind the phenomena.This methodology reflects the way basic science actually has been developed by scientists and trains the pupils stepwise in basic scientific thinking and reflection on the basis of personal experience and observation of the phenomena of nature and the history of science. In kindergarten and the lower grades, the experience of nature through the seasons is brought to the children through nature walks, nature tables and observation of nature around. In later grades, there are specific main lesson blocks dealing with Man and Animal, and other themes. In grade 5, scientific ideas may be taught historically through the study of the Greeks, for example, Aristotle, Archimedes and Pythagoras. In grades 6-8 the science curriculum becomes more focused with blocks on physics (optics, acoustics, mechanics, magnetism and electricity), botany, chemistry (inorganic and organic), and anatomy.
Waldorf Methods/Sciences 1
Lesson 1: Chemistry/Kindergarten/Grades
Lesson 2: Chemistry/Classes 9 - 12
Lesson 3: Physics/Introduction
Lesson 4: Physics/Classes 6 - 8
Lesson 5: Physics/Classes 9 - 12
Waldorf Methods/Sciences 2
Lesson 1: Life Sciences/Introduction
Lesson 2: Life Sciences/Classes 4 - 5
Lesson 3: Life Sciences/Classes 6 -8
Lesson 4: Life Sciences/Classes 9 -10
Lesson 5: Life Sciences/Classes 11 -12
Waldorf Methods/Sciences 3
Lesson 1: Geography/Introduction
Lesson 2: Geography/Classes 1 - 8
Lesson 3: Geography/Classes 9 - 12
Lesson 4: Gardening and Sustainable Living
Lesson 5: Technology
This courses offers an introduction to Anthroposophical world view in relation to the human being's biography and life phases. The course is based primarily on the work of Bernard Lievegoed, and others who have contributed to the understanding of child development and human development in the context of Anthroposophy.
"How much do we really know about ourselves?" as William Bryant puts it in his groundbreaking work "The Veiled Pulse of Time" is one of the main questions that we will encounter when turning to biography work.
This course will help to get somewhat closer to this subject by lifting into our consciousness patterns and significant threads that can be revealed from the treasure chest that holds the human being's biography as if someone (we ourselves?) has discarded a bunch of memories and thrown them into this chest and time has added some dust and made some of the pictures fade.
One of the mysteries that we all encounter in our lives, even though we might not always be aware of it, is indeed our own biography. In our day to day life, we might pay little attention to this mystery, and only if dramatic events enter our life and cause us to stop and reflect, we may become aware of underlying currents or tendencies that reveal themselves to us upon examining our life.
In this course, we try to turn to biography and life phases in a particular way, trying to detect patterns and gain insights concerning biography by looking at it through the lens of the seven year periods. While during the first three seven year periods obvious and significant changes occur at the transition from one into the next, as the change of teeth around age seven, and the entry into grade school at that time, or the onset of puberty around age fourteen, later in life we might not be so aware of these transitions, and we might need to make extra efforts in order to become conscious of these changes.
In the book “Phases” by Bernard Lievegoed, Lievegood states: “The human biography is a symphony which each individual personally composes."
While each person's path in life is a unique and individual 'work of art', the human being meets certain milestones - from the period of adolescence to old age - which are universal in nature. Regardless of background, critical outer and inner stages must be passed through. "Phases" describes each period of life - adolescence, the twenties, thirties, forties, etc. - and looks at the inner qualities and challenges that arise at each stage. The author argues that the various biological and psychological explanations of the human being are incomplete. If the inner self, the ego, of each individual is recognized and acknowledged, then the peculiarities of one's particular life-path and its challenges take on new meaning.
Bernard Lievegoed - psychiatrist, educator and anthroposophist - brought half a century of clinical practice, studious observation and personal insight into the writing of the book "Phases." His overview of the course of human life and professional career, of male-female relationships, and the sometimes misleading picture of the human being presented by the various psychological schools of thought, has made this book essential reading for all those interested in attaining an insight into the mysteries of life.
Each lesson includes presentations and study material from several sources including lectures by Rudolf Steiner, assignments, artistic work and tasks.
Lesson 1: 0 - 7 Childhood/physical body/willing - Moon
Lesson 2: 7 - 14 Grades school/childhood/etheric body/feeling - Mercury
Lesson 3: 14 - 21 High school/college/etc./adolescence/astral body/thinking - Venus
Lesson 4: 21 - 28 Sentient soul age - Sun
Lesson 5: 28 - 35 Intellectual soul age - Sun
Lesson 6: 35 - 42 Consciousness soul age - Sun
Lesson 7: 42 - 49 Spirit self age/transformed astral body - Mars
Lesson 8: 49 - 56 Life spirit age/transformed etheric body - Jupiter
Lesson 9: 56 - 63 Spirit man age/transformed physical body - Saturn
Lesson 10: 63 - old age/wisdom
Lesson 11: Lunar Nodes
Lesson 12: Summary and Conclusions
According to Rudolf Steiner, social organizations should have three cooperative but independent administrations—one to administer economic functions, one to administer rights and responsibilities of members of the organization, and one to administer what he calls the spiritual or cultural functions—he uses these words interchangeably in discussions of social questions—of the organization. These three administrations scale to cover the smallest institutions and the largest social groups. One administration may consider itself more central than the others to the mission of a particular organization, but all must balance if the organization is to maintain itself in health. A school, for instance, could mirror a theocracy if educational concerns are used to trump or bully the genuine concerns of the rights of its consumers.
This example points to the intuitive correctness of Steiner’s view. Take the opposite view; do we believe that justice should be bought and sold, or that the state should govern religion? For those seeking a more conventional (but no less difficult to comprehend) statement of a view of the threefold structure of society, Jurgen Habermas’s concept of a “lifeworld,” discussed in detail in the second volume of his Theory of Communicative Action, outlines a view that is essentially the same as Steiner’s. For Habermas, every communicative act—asking a question, making a statement—expresses all three of the human subsystems of thinking, feeling, and will. (That is, the most rigorous thought is still communicated with some emotional investment and some intention of will; the most emotional outburst still gives evidence of a thought and an intention, and so on.) Further, every communicative act, in that it is directed from one person to another or to a group of others, extends the human capacities of thinking, feeling, and will into a social interaction. Thinking extended into social interaction we may call culture; feeling extended becomes politics; and will extended concerns economic relations.
This course provides an in-depth look at the administrative issues and solutions that Waldorf Schools have to deal with in today's world.
Lesson 1: The Threefold Structure
Lesson 2: The Parent Handbook
Lesson 3: The Faculty/Staff Handbook
Lesson 4: Finances and Budgets
Lesson 5: Licensing/Research Project
It is no secret that the number of children with challenges in normal classrooms is growing. Many teachers respond that a third or more of their class struggles with school work.
Rudolf Steiner presented a powerful directive to Waldorf teachers:
"Our rightful place as educators is to be removers of hindrances. Each child in every age brings something new into the world from divine regions, and it is our task to remove bodily and psychical obstacles out of his way, to remove hindrances so that his spirit may enter in full freedom into life."
All teachers, whether they work in regular Waldorf schools, remedial programs or curative Camphill communities, can glean inspiration from these words.
Today's Waldorf/Steiner teachers encounter this reality in their classrooms and realize that more and more children need remedial education, curative education, "Extra Lesson" work and so on.
The background to understanding children with special needs and also those who have so called borderline special needs is given in the Curative Course by Rudolf Steiner.
This course "Waldorf Remedial Methods" will provide the student with an in-depth study of this fundamental work by Steiner.