Work and Play in Early Childhood

Freya Jaffke


Work and Play in Early Childhood describes not only what a good Waldorf kindergarten is like, but why these kindergartens are as they as. This book has been out of print for years, and now is available once again.

Freya Jaffke’s highly readable text is punctuated by many color photographs that lead the reader right into the kindergarten to witness first-hand the many gifts of capacity and awareness that the children receive.  Rhythm and repetition, example and imitation, are pillars on which early learning is based. Freya Jaffke applies these simple principles in ways that are refreshingly sensible and practical. She describes children’s play and provides well-tried advice on this important stage of development at which young children love to imitate the work of adults.

Practical topics are covered, such as planning the day, festivals, rhythms, spontaneous and planned play, stages of development, creating a protective environment, and hyperactive and inactive children. Parents and educators faced with the task of bringing up small children will find inspiration to help them in their daily endeavors.

Based on observations gained over decades working in a Waldorf kindergarten, Freya Jaffke’s books have become a cornerstone of understanding and inspiration for Waldorf early childhood education.  Very highly recommended.

  1. As a newcomer to Waldorf theory, it is a true treat to read such a slim volume that distills the learning stages of the young child in an applicable way. Jaffke separates the age groups by babyhood, crawling to two years of age, three to five, and five to seven. The bulk of the work addresses how to inspire your child (or the children under your care) through the power of imitation, or as some may call it, positive modeling, and how the caregiver should represent his/herself to bring out the best in their charges. This work was inspiring in that it doesn’t require anything awkward in cultivating your child’s early life, but rather that you focus on creating harmony in the home/care center. As a mother of two toddlers, I was particularly impressed because Jaffke’s book inspired me in many ways, but it even inspired me to want to iron (for the good of the children, of course).