Embracing a Holistic Approach: The Synergy of Pikler® and Steiner/Waldorf Inspired Pedagogy

Embracing a Holistic Approach: The Synergy of Pikler® and Steiner/Waldorf Inspired Pedagogy


In the realm of early childhood education, two influential philosophies have emerged as beacons for parents and educators who are seeking a holistic approach to caring for our youngest children – Pikler® and Steiner/Waldorf pedagogies. While distinct, both approaches share a common thread of respecting the child’s individuality and developmental pace, offering us valuable insights into parenting and teaching.

Pikler® Philosophy 

The Pikler® approach was developed by revolutionary Hungary pediatrician Dr Emmi Pikler who founded the Lóczy Institute in Budapest, Hungary in 1946. Magda Gerber, who was a client of Emmi Pikler’s, was greatly inspire by Pikler’s work and went on to develop a similar approach called RIE® (Resources for Infant Educarers) in the United States.

Pikler® emphasizes the crucial role of respectful interactions with infants and toddlers, advocating for unhurried and attentive care where secure attachment relationships between adult and child can flourish. The approach also focuses on allowing children to develop motor skills and cognitive abilities at their own pace and in their own unique time. It advocates for minimal intervention from adults, encouraging natural exploration of the environment and learning through child-led play. Parents and caregivers are guided to observe their children and build a depth of understanding of their cues and needs, thereby fostering a deep, responsive and secure connection.

As a young early childhood teacher who was drawn to working with infants and toddlers, I was fortunate to come across the work of Dr. Emmi Pikler early in my career. Despite wanting to learn as much as I could about the unique developmental and biological needs of youngest tamariki (children), I found that there was little research or educational content available in this area. I decided to learn as much as I could and set off for Budapest to attend the trainings provided by the Lóczy Institute itself. Here I was deeply inspired by the depth of knowledge, passion and research held by the team of leading experts who range from caregivers, pedagogues, pediatricians to psychologists. I have been fortunate to return many times since this initial course and am on the path towards becoming a Pikler® Pedagogue.

Waldorf Education 

Waldorf education, founded by Rudolf Steiner, takes a broader view of education, encompassing not just the early years but continuing through childhood. This approach aims to educate the whole child – intellectually, emotionally, physically and spiritually – and is designed to align to their developmental stages. In the early years (0-7 years), the child learns through sensory-rich play in a beautiful and nurturing environment in which the child’s imagination and creativity are fostered. Respectful relationships is also a cornerstone of the approach and adults hold a carefully considered daily, weekly and yearly rhythm and strive to be worthy of imitation.

After completing my undergraduate BA/BTeach Degree in Early Childhood Education, I felt compelled to return to my roots (I was a “Waldorf baby” myself) and undertook training in this educational approach. Since then, I have had the opportunity to lead and consult in a number of Waldorf Kindergartens in both Aotearoa New Zealand and the United Kingdom.

In my family-focused classes and programs, elements of Steiner/Waldorf education are woven into the curriculum, providing a rich, holistic educational experience.

Integrating the Approaches within my Work

By combining the principles of the Pikler® approach and Steiner/Waldorf education, parents and educators can create a rich, developmentally appropriate learning environment in which the holistic child, and their biological blueprint, is fostered. Our courses and resources aim to blend these beautiful philosophies while aligning them to latest research and neuroscience around the developing child.

Within my work, I provide comprehensive knowledge and practical strategies for those seeking to adopt these peaceful and child-led approaches in their parenting or teaching practices. Whether it’s through in-person classes, professional learning and development or our online courses, I provide guidance and support to inspire you as you care for the young child/ren in your life.


In conclusion, the integration of Pikler®/RIE® and Steiner/Waldorf inspired pedagogies offers a powerful approach to early childhood education and parenting. These philosophies align in their deep respect for the child’s individuality and innate capabilities and, as a result, when used as an inspiring tool in your kete (basket) of knowledge, can create a deeply rewarding and enjoyable way of caring for your child.

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