The essential thing is not to imagine that the child can learn what is good or bad, that he can learn this or that, but to know that everything that is done in his presence is transformed in his childish organism into spirit, soul and body. Health for the whole of life depends on how one conducts oneself in the presence of the child. The inclinations which he develops depend on how one behaves in his presence.
But all the things that we are usually advised to do with Kindergarten children are quite worthless. The things which are introduced as Kindergarten education are usually extraordinarily “clever.” One is, I might say, quite fascinated by the cleverness of what has been thought out for Kindergartens in the course of the nineteenth century. The children certainly learn a great deal there, they almost learn to read. They are supplied with letters of the alphabet which they have to fit into cut out letters and such like.
It all looks very clever and one can easily be tempted io believe that it really is something suitable for children, but it is of no use at all. It really has no value whatsoever, and the whole soul of the child is spoilt by it. Even down into the body, right down into physical health, the child is ruined. Through such Kindergarten methods weaklings in body and soul are bred for later life.
[Translator’s Note. In Germany the children remain in the “Kindergarten” until Health for the whole of life depends on how one conducts oneself in the presence of the child seventh year so that the above remarks apply to all school life up to this time, (including, for instance, the “Infants” Departments of State Schools in England).]
Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 311 – Kingdom of Childhood: Lecture 2 – Torquay, August 13, 1924