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Child Development

Words of Waldorf Wisdom

The Foundational Senses: Supporting the Senses at Home (Part 2)

In the first seven years of life, Waldorf early childhood teachers and parents cultivate and develop the four foundational senses. The four foundational senses or lower senses indicated by Rudolf Steiner are: Sense of touch, Sense of life (well being), sense of balance, and sense movement. It is essential to create time, space, and opportunities for self-directed movement for children to cultivate and develop their foundational senses to establish a healthy sensory-motor and perceptual system for academic readiness.


It is important to observe and develop the “Four levels of Sensory Integration”:

Level One: Primary Sensory System – touch, balance, movement, body

position and other senses.

Level Two: Sensory-Motor Skills – body awareness, use of both sides of

the body, hand preference, motor planning (praxis).

Level three: Perceptual Motor Skills – auditory discrimination, speech and

language, visual discrimination, eye-hand coordination, purposeful activity.

Level four: Academic Readiness- academic skills, complex motor skills,

regulation of attention, organized behaviour, self-esteem and self- control



Early childhood movement games, exercises, and self-directed play support:


  • Body awareness (self-concept, spatial orientation, laterality,

    directionality, movement, and temporal awareness)

  • Movement (locomotion, manipulative abilities)

  • Physical abilities (muscular strength, endurance, and flexibility)

  • Fitness, speed, agility, power, and coordination)


How to support the sense of touch at home:

  • Singing and playing finger games (remembering to warm up the hands first before playing the game)

  • Working with play dough, salt dough or baking bread

  • Washing toys or giving stuffed animals a bath with warm water (add lavender to water)

  • Deep and warm bear hugs from parents


How to support the sense of life at home:

  • Creating a nature or seasonal garden in your home

  • Celebrating festivals and season activities

  • Predictable bedtime rhythms and routines to support sleep

  • Taking care of a plant or animal in the home


How to support the sense of movement at home:

  • Self-directed active play

  • Dancing, marching and creative free form movement

  • Ball games (catching, throwing and aiming games)

  • Running, galloping, or skipping in your house or outside (set up a routine to try different ways to move from one point to the next in your house-make it fun!)


How to support the sense of balance at home:

  • Hopscotch in the sidewalk (one foot or two feet)

  • Rolly poly (curl up into a ball and hold the body in position counting up to ten)

  • Rolling or spinning activities (rolling on the ground, dancing and twirling)

  • Walk forwards and backward with eyes open and closed

Have fun moving with your child and rediscover your own body and how to play again!

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