Member organisationsFriends of Waldorf Education

Emergency pedagogic first aid for traumatized children in war-and disaster-areas

Every year, millions of children and adolescents experience traumatic events. Most of them are left alone in coping with their experiences and memories. Even after years have passed, such unresolved traumata can evoke symptoms that profoundly disturb the development of children and adolescents.

The emergency pedagogic department of the Friends of Waldorf Education has the goal to help traumatized children and adolescents in war- and disaster-areas process their traumatizing experiences. By providing stabilizing pedagogic actions on the basis of Waldorf education, emergency pedagogy helps reduce or even prevent potential long-term post-traumatic stress disorders. The psycho-social stabilization of children and adolescents who have been affected by natural disasters or war actions is the main focus of emergency pedagogic assignments. Based on Waldorf-educational instruments and related therapeutic forms emergency pedagogic care incorporates elements of painting- and drawing-therapy, experiential- and circus education, therapeutic sculpting and other educational and therapeutic instruments.

In order to generate structures that outlast the duration of the immediate assignments, which usually is one to two weeks, and to allow children and adolescents to experience a longer lasting stabilizing effect, local experts are integrated into the emergency pedagogic work. Those experts are trained in emergency pedagogic intervention-skills, which include a theoretic background and practical training. Practical workshops provide the participants a firsthand experience of the instruments.

Another fundamental element of emergency pedagogic work is the briefing of parents. Most often they are just as affected by the traumatizing effect of human violence, such as war, or by natural catastrophes. By way of psycho-education they have a platform to talk with experts and to express their own experiences. Eventually the goal of parental counseling is it to evoke an understanding of the trauma-induced changes of their children and to point them to options how they can handle those changes; most parents feel helpless after traumatizing events and have trouble coping with the demands of the situation.

Emergency pedagogy since 2006

In 2006, the encounter with children and adolescents in a refugee camp in Beirut, Lebanon, triggered the plan to put together a comprehensive emergency pedagogic concept. The man-made disaster of civil war and the heavily traumatized refugees in Lebanon initiated the first emergency pedagogic project by the Friends of the Waldorf Education. Next to community services and the funding of educational projects, this pilot project became another major field of work for the Friends of Waldorf Education. Since then, numerous assignments in war- and disaster zones, such as China, Gaza, Indonesia, Haiti, Kyrgyzstan and Japan have followed.

Friends of Waldorf Education – Emergency Education Registered Association (Notfallpädagogik e.V.)
Neisser Str. 10
76139 Karlsruhe
Tel.: +49721/3548 06-144
Fax: +49721/3548 06-180
E-Mail: notfallpaedagogik(at)