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More on Helle
Becoming a mother at the age of ?? changed my life entirely.
Until then, as a young woman with my own strong beliefs, ideas and ambitions, I thought that I was going out
into the world, and work as an idealistic town planner in Third World Countries. I graduated as a Cultural
Geographer from the University of Copenhagen (1983), and this was where my heart was. I didn’t at all
expect the heart opening and astonishing feeling of becoming a mother to a totally new human being. From
that moment on, I just knew that I had to be there – fully- for someone else, and not just for myself and my
career as a “world savior”.
In the 1980ies in Denmark, as well as today, I had to be able to support myself. So, I went out to all corners
of Copenhagen where I lived, trying to find the perfect kindergarten for my beautiful little daughter, who was
?? months old.
As it turned out, it was just impossible for me. All the childcare professionals I met were very nice, warm
people, and they all meant well. But they didn’t seem to base their pedagogy on what I deeply felt was the
child’s true, basic needs, and there was very little consistency and awareness about why they did what they
did. I found that the atmosphere was generally too confusing for such small children, and it just didn’t feel
the toddlers!
I didn’t give up on my quest for the perfect place. And that ended up turning my whole life around.
One day, I entered a Waldorf Kindergarten. I was speechless. This was what I had been looking for – but
without ever knowing it. It was a homey, calm, reassuring and loving environment, and it just felt like coming
home.
But. They didn’t allow children under the age of three. That obviously meant, that they couldn’t take my
daughter in. “So what does other parents do?” I asked. “Every mother and father I know have to work. So do
the mothers here all stay at home, until the children reach the age of three?”, I asked. “Oh, no”, they replied.
“They attend the regular day care centers, and then they come to our Kindergarten, when their children are
old enough”.
There was a very strong belief amongst Waldorf Kindergartens that all children should stay at home until the
age of three. Therefore, nobody allowed the little ones into their Kindergartens. However, society wasn’t like
that in Denmark. Almost all women I knew of worked outside their homes after their maternity leave. So this
position just didn’t match reality.
I didn’t understand the logic at all. There was an obvious lack, almost a gap. This Kindergarten was so
obviously practicing something far more profound, balanced, considered and thoughtful than what I saw in
any other day care center I visited. So how could they accept this situation- and take over 3 year old
children, who arrived from radically different and often very busy, loud and unorganized day care centers?
Then I just knew. I had to start my own Kindergarten initiative, allowing children from 1 year old, as long as
they could walk. And first, I had to become a Waldorf Kindergarten teacher.
The Kindergarten Nokken, and how it became ‘big’ in the world
I graduated in 1987 as a Waldorf teacher (0-7 years), which led to the opening of the Rudolf Steiner
Kindergarten Nokken in the North Western area of Copenhagen, Denmark in the same year. It was an
amazing experience, and a great responsibility to take care of other parents’ precious, little children.
The Kindergarten has become well known around the globe,
as it was the first Waldorf Kindergarten in the world to include the 1-3 year old children. This meant that I had
to develop much of the pedagogy myself, and I took this responsibility extremely seriously. Nokken was at
first widely discussed in the global “world of Waldorf”, as all new initiatives often are.
But people were extremely curious, too. Hundreds of students and childcare professionals have visited the
Kindergarten Nokken over the past 30 years. I am proud and grateful to say, that it is today widely
recognized as a “mother model” around the world for numerous kindergarten initiatives, and I receive emails
every day from inspired parents and childcare professionals.
I have always loved to travel.
and advice to many hundreds of parents and childcare professionals in more than 50 countries. I have
always been fortunate enough to be spoken for, which has led to many authentic, wonderful and exciting
experiences, with truly dedicated people.
“Helle truly lives in her center. Her authentic way of working with children is fantastic. She
understands the child so deeply (…) Helle has a lot of wisdom, and is a strong resource for how to be
a caregiver, mother, parent.(…) She takes her work so serious, but she is also so much fun! She is
the real thing!”
Sigrid Daleo, Sunbridge Institute, California
“What a wonderful week it was to share in the Forest and Farm Kindergarten course at Sunbridge
Institute. The practical and spiritual wisdom was invaluable, and I came home more inspired than
ever to continue working outdoors with young children.”
Jason Hamzy, Cincinetti, Ohio

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