Moorland Waldorf School

What is form drawing?

Moorland Waldorf School and Kindergarten in Botton Village is an independent primary school which offers Steiner Waldorf education.  This alternative to mainstream education is one the fastest growing educational movements in the world, with over 1,000 schools in 64 countries, and 1,857 kindergartens (nurseries) in more than 70 countries.  

Our philosophy is very much centred on the happiness, wellbeing and all-round educational progress of the individual child.   There is a strong emphasis on the arts, languages and music although all national curriculum subjects are to be found in our curriculum.  

Some subjects are unique to Steiner Waldorf. Form drawing is one of them. This is a subject that you would see on a timetable in every Steiner Waldorf School from classes 1-5 and Moorland Waldorf School is no exception. But what is form drawing?

Form drawing consists essentially of freehand drawing of non-representational forms. It was entirely new when introduced in the first Waldorf school in 1919. Today it is still new, in the sense that we are still discovering fresh aspects of it, and different applications.

When you look at form drawings – the rhythmically repeated patterns, reflections, rotations, geometric figures and intricate interlaced designs, such as Celtic knots- you are seeing an outcome on the page.  It looks beautiful and can be quite impressive, but what is far more important, yet what it is impossible to see, is just how much the process of creating these forms furthers a child’s development.

 In fact, form drawing is all about the process and not the product.  It is the act of drawing that educates, not the result. 

The weekly form drawing lesson begins with whole body movements.  We walk and run the shapes.  We trace them in the air, using large arm movements.  Once the child begins to draw the pattern or shape, they are learning how to translate the large three-dimensional experience into a much smaller, two-dimensional form on paper.  Observing a form minutely, understanding how it is drawn, identifying patterns and recreating it requires many skills beyond those of observation, orientation and the fine motor skills of the fingers. 

Each experience of form drawing adds to a child’s knowledge and skills, increases independence and confidence in their own abilities. Identifying patterns is a particularly transferable skill and gives a good visual foundation for mathematics. Form drawings which have been mastered are revisited as the pupils are challenged to reverse them or draw the negative space. Tasks like this demand huge flexibility of thought, increasing cognitive abilities especially problem solving. 

Form drawing is also used as a barometer to observe how a child is feeling within their learning journey and their stage of development. By observing how a child approaches the task and the effort they are able to maintain throughout, the teacher can learn a lot about the child, their sense of self and feelings, in a way which is not expressed during other lessons or even in conversation with the child.  Form drawing can affect mood deeply.  The forms can be uplifting or calming.  They can help to overcome anxiety or stress and promote wellbeing.  As such it has been an extremely beneficial therapy for the children during the recent challenging times.