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Steiner Education Encourages Relaxed, Play-based Learning Approach

Steiner Education Aotearoa NZ (SEANZ) is encouraging relaxed, play-based learning for students at home during the COVID-19 lockdown.

Placing family wellbeing firmly at the forefront has been key to creating successful remote education experiences for children, alongside a focus on innate learning through everyday activities, says the organisation’s CEO Janet Molloy.

“The situation we find ourselves in with this global pandemic, and having to find a new way to educate our children, would have been unimaginable only a short time back,” Molloy says.

“I have been incredibly impressed at how the teachers have worked together and collaborated with other schools in order to very quickly put together resources that can be used at home”.

She said Steiner schools with high schools attached were already well set up with on-line teaching and learning platforms so secondary students had a relatively smooth transition into home-based learning. For the kindergartens and primary schools, the transition called on resilience, creativity and imagination from teachers in order to continue the children’s education without resorting to too much screen time or putting undue stress on the parents and maintaining the personal connection with their teacher.

One of the most important aspects of a Steiner school environment is friendship and connection with peers, Molloy said, which was a challenge to emulate at home without resorting to telecommunications. Families becoming self-sufficient in terms of friendship is a current goal.

“Although we are very lucky to have access to technology to communicate, we still need person-to-person interaction and we cannot accept the current distance education as a “new norm” but as something that we are having to meet as a challenge for the time being,” she said.

SEANZ is also very sensitive to the stresses that parents, and especially solo parents, are experiencing during this time, Molloy said.

“Nobody wants to add to that stress, and for that reason, many of the activities that are being required of the children have to do with everyday activities. Children are innately geared towards learning and, as long as they are relaxed and happy, will learn from almost anything they are exposed to. Play is important to us all but especially to children,” she said.

Steiner teachers across the country had spent the recent school holidays quickly upskilling themselves to be able to deliver remote learning to their students that ensures they get a balance of physical and practical activities, artistic activities and “something to think about,” said Molloy.

Once the term began, parent feedback had been overwhelmingly positive, with families saying teachers had done an excellent job of putting together video, audio and other learning materials and incorporating daily activities, creativity and play into the learning process.

Molloy said SEANZ wanted to acknowledge the support they had received from the education secretary, Early Childhood Advisory Committee (ECAC) and the Ministry of Education for the “kindness, flexibility and care of families and teachers” during the Level Four lockdown.



Steiner Education, also known as Waldorf Education, is a style of education founded in 1919 by Rudolf Steiner, which aims to develop pupils' intellectual, artistic, and practical skills in an integrated and holistic manner, with a keen focus on the environment. There are over 1,000 Steiner schools and kindergartens worldwide, and there are 11 schools and 23 kindergartens within New Zealand.

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