Early Childhood Teacher Education

The early childhood teacher certification at Great Lakes Waldorf Institute blends traditional instructor-led and collaborative learning with practical, experiential training and online synchronous and  asynchronous self-paced study.  Graduates of this full 600-hour program receive Early Childhood Waldorf Teaching Certification recognized by the Waldorf Early Childhood Association of North America (WECAN) and the International Association for Steiner/Waldorf Early Childhood Education. (IASWECE).   

Based on Rudolf Steiner’s insights into the nature of the human being and his world view, known as anthroposophy, we offer a rigorous and inspiring program designed to meet your unique development as a person and an educator.  Participating in our learning community, you will experience the vibrant ambiance that evolves as colleagues share their personal journeys, reflections and research through thoughtful dialogue, group activities and contemplative work.

Study includes child development from pre-birth to primary school entrance, artistic work, development of relevant skills such as nutritious food preparation, and opportunities to observe and practice in Waldorf early childhood classrooms.  Through our coursework, you will cultivate essential qualities for working with the young child, such as:

Love and respect for each child as a unique individual

The ability to create warm, nurturing environments that serve the needs of the young child

Skills in building collaborative relationships with parents and colleagues

A commitment to life-long self-development.

Early Childhood teacher trainees participate together in some human and child development courses, providing richer conversations and a fuller picture of child development beyond a student’s chosen area of training.

The certificate program for Early Childhood Waldorf teaching strives to enable students to gain the following:

A deep understanding of the philosophy and view of child development Rudolf Steiner gave
as the foundation for the Waldorf school,

A thorough penetration of the pedagogy and the many ways it comes to expression in the curriculum

Artistic, social, intellectual and practical experiences that contribute to their own
self-development as well as their self-confidence as a teacher.


The program will prepare students to:

Understand the unfolding development of the child from pre-birth to age seven
in the context of broader human development

Provide young children with consistent experiences of the natural and human world
through the rhythm of the day, week, seasons, and year

Provide and engage in artistic activities such as storytelling, drawing and painting,
sculpture and woodcarving, music and rhythmic games to foster creativity and imagination

Understand and work with the philosophy and contemplative practices of Rudolf Steiner in
their own preparation and practice

Regard—and practice—the art of the educator as a lifelong opportunity for research


The program consists of courses in the following areas: basic Waldorf pedagogy and child-development, subject curriculum and methods, inner development of the teacher, fundamentals for the teacher, anthroposophy, and artistic development.


Year 1

Three-week summer intensive

Fall Weekend Retreat and 8 weeks online

Spring Weekend Retreat and 8 weeks online

Fieldwork I – 15 hours

Year 2

Three-week summer intensive 

Fall Weekend Retreat and 8 weeks online

Spring Weekend Retreat and 8 weeks online

Fieldwork II – 30 hours


Year 3

Three-week summer intensive

Fall Weekend Retreat and 8 weeks online

Spring Weekend Retreat and 9 weeks online

Practicum (2) four-week student teaching placements

Capstone Project

Practical Work in the Classroom

Fieldwork I

All students are required to observe in Waldorf classrooms for a minimum of 15 hours.  To better understand the full scope of Waldorf education, students must visit early childhood and elementary classrooms

All students are required to complete the 15 hours during year one of the program.

Fieldwork II

All students are required to spend 30 hours in Waldorf classrooms: 20-25 hours in observation and 5-10 hours in practice teaching.  It includes further classroom observation and provides the student with the opportunity of practice teaching as an assistant or serving as a guest teacher in music, crafts, or another curriculum area in which the trainee has an interest or expertise.  

It is to the student’s advantage to do as much practice teaching as possible.

Practicum and Capstone Project

The practicum is an 8-week student teaching placement that requires a trainee to be observed and mentored by a trained, experienced Waldorf teacher that has been agreed upon by GLWI. The 8-week practicum is usually 2 four-week blocks.  Typically, a research project proposal is submitted in the fall and literature research begun with the actual practicum undertaken in the spring.

This final Practicum and Capstone Project are required for a Certificate of Completion.

Master's Degree

Teaching License

Neither the Master’s Degree nor the GLWI certificate equals a State of Wisconsin Teaching License.  Students may choose to work with Mount Mary University to earn a state teaching license, requiring an additional one-year of coursework. The Milwaukee Teacher Education Center also offers a one-year alternative licensure program. Visit http://www.mteconline.org/ for more information.

Early childhood program students may obtain a Master of Arts Degree in Education with 9 additional credits and the completion of an Action Research paper from our partner Mount Mary University (MMU).  

MMU is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission North Central Association.

National Rankings

College Choice: Best U.S. Women’s Colleges – MMU is #15

U.S. News and World Report – MMU ranks #86 for Regional Universities in the Midwest

U.S. News and World Report – MMU is #33 in the region for Best Colleges for Veterans

President’s Higher Education Community Service Award – MMU is on the honor roll with distinction for its commitment to community involvement and service learning


Ed Dept, Mount Mary University

2900 N Menomonee River Pkwy
Milwaukee, WI 53222

Tel: 414-299-3820

© 2020 Great Lakes Waldorf Institute.

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