Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name


Organizational Unit

Morgridge College of Education

First Advisor

Bruce Uhrmacher, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Nicholas Cutforth

Third Advisor

Paul Michalec


Arts-based, Creativity, Education, Imagination, Play


Waldorf kindergarten and Reggio-inspired kindergarten are two arts-based approaches to early childhood education that are viewed as strong educational alternatives to traditional education and serve as sources of inspiration for progressive educational reform. This study describes, interprets, and appraises the intentions and operations of two Waldorf kindergartens and two Reggio-inspired kindergartens in the United States in order to uncover the aims, practices, and values of both.

Five questions guide this study: (1) What are the intentions of Waldorf kindergarten and Reggio-inspired kindergarten? (2) What do Waldorf kindergarten and Reggio-inspired kindergarten look like in practice? (3) What do the children have the opportunity to learn in each of these environments? (4) What perspectives do parents have of Waldorf and Reggio-inspired kindergarten? And (5) what are the implications of Waldorf kindergarten and Reggio-inspired kindergarten?

Educational connoisseurship and criticism are the methodology used to investigate Waldorf kindergarten and Reggio-inspired kindergarten. Educational criticism is composed of four dimensions: description, interpretation, evaluation, and thematics. The six features that contribute to the ecology of schooling provided the conceptual framework for observing these kindergarten classroom settings. They are the intentional, structural, curricular, pedagogical, evaluative, and aesthetic dimensions.

From my research questions, there are three findings: (1) in an arts-based kindergarten, children are not only learning knowledge, but also learning to be creative and imaginative with the knowledge they learn; (2) in order to have a successful arts-based kindergarten approach, the teacher, the child, the parents, the materials, and the environment all need to be involved within the curriculum; and (3) in order to fully evoke the qualities of a Waldorf kindergarten and a Reggio-inspired kindergarten the teacher must be able to fully support the philosophies and methods of their respective approach. These findings suggest that arts-based curriculums aid in the development of the whole child to not only mature in their own time and space but also encouraging the child to build meaningful relationships with other children, the teachers, their parents, and the environment around them.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

Daria Stowell


Received from ProQuest

File Format




File Size

247 p.


Early childhood education