Growing up in Rhythm with Nature

Child with backpack roaming through meadows
Photo: C. Fischer

From the very beginning, the Waldorf Kinderhaus Tutzing has set great store by giving each child sufficient time and space to explore the world and its interconnections independently through meaningful activities and social interactions. Founded in 1985 as a parent initiative, the institution has only continued to develop, moving into a building specially constructed for the crèche and preschool with a spacious outdoor area surrounded by nature on a hill overlooking Lake Starnberg in 2016. Fifty-five girls and boys are currently enjoying this safe space – with a view of the Bavarian Alpine Foreland –to develop their personalities until they start school.

Like the institution itself, the demand for childcare places is constantly growing. For this reason, the sponsoring association recently decided to open a parent-child meeting point and an additional preschool group, which is the first – and so far the only – such group in the region to focus on nature and forest pedagogy. With the support of the municipality and private forest owners, the institution was able to acquire an area directly adjacent to the existing building for this purpose. Since October 2023, a comfortably furnished yurt in the spacious outdoor area has provided the children with shelter in bad weather. This yurt will also serve as a starting point and base for daily excursions into the neighbouring forest, where the children can explore the world year-round with all their senses, test their motor skills within the community and forge close bonds with nature. In the summer and autumn, the sweet fruits of the planned orchard will also serve as an invitation for the children to participate in the nature garden harvest.

Fabian Waidacher, who has been running the facility since June 2020, points out that “with all the activities, it is particularly important to us to provide equal education for the head, heart and hands to promote the children’s will and natural curiosity for self-education”. For this qualified early childhood educator and his 13-strong team, the daily, weekly and annual cycle is also a central pedagogical element. “The children experience a conscious alternation between phases of movement and rest, guided and free play, manual and musical activities, which is comparable to the process of breathing in and out”, explains Waidacher. An essential part of this holistic learning process is interacting respectfully with other people, plants and animals, such as the chickens and bees that also live on the premises. The expansion work, which is being funded by the Software AG Foundation (SAGST) and others, is scheduled for completion in autumn 2024. “The diverse experiences in nature encourage the healthy development of children on a physical, mental and emotional level and help them to understand the world in all its diversity from the ground up”, emphasises SAGST project manager Markus Kleikemper.