We are in our third year at our school (parent and toddler and now in second year of kinde)
Just to address the specifics you mentioned in your original post...
The reading thing isn't a big deal for us as there is plenty of research to back up why kids shouldn't be formally taught reading before they are ready which generally speaking in around 6 or 7. Scandinavian countries which have impressive literacy rates.
The idea being that in a Waldorf school a child learns to love learning. When they are open to and wanting to go after the knowledge it is presented to them.
Our kinde teacher had a great analogy about this idea. Think of the child like an elastic band. You pull it back, and pull it back until it is tight and straining against you before letting it go at which point it will fly so much further.
The clique part of it? Well, I suppose that varies school by school. If you mean in the way that pixiewytch describes, it's not like that in our school. Sure there are groups of friends but there in an exclusiveness to any of it. It may have something to do with the fact that we are a city centre school with a sliding fee scale so there are all kinds of people. I mean I have tattoos, a nose ring and don't even own a car and I am our class convenor, craft group convenor, occasional kinde assistant and whatever else needs doing. I do all of that with people from all different income levels and backgrounds.
If you mean it in the way I have read some negative websites describing it where people in Waldorf schools only have other Waldorf friends, maybe. We all tend to be drawn to people with whom we relate and that often means similar lifestyles, especially similar parenting styles. So, people will often end up after a couple of years in a Waldorf school with mostly friends from the Waldorf community. Though I imagine it's the same at any kind of school, you are friends with who you see and spend the most time with-work or school.
As for the religious aspect of it, it's been a non issue.
My cons have been as others have mentioned and that is the lack of organization and communication. Waldorf schools are self governing and consist of a few core groups (school management team, collage of teachers, governors/board). These groups make decisions and since there isn't an individual in charge, unless it all flows as it should it can break down. In my time at our school there have been peaks and troughs.
Parental involvment is an essential part of all Waldorf schools. The more you can volunteer and be involved, the more you will get out of it and the more you will learn about your school. I know not everyone can give a lot of time but do expect to be asked. For me, this is a good thing as it means I get to give a lot of input into how my daughter's school works.
Originally Posted by 3boobykins
A huge con for us, one which is causing us to leave Waldorf education at the end of this school year, is that, at least in our experience, it does not provide resources for children who are beyond the class in certain areas of academics.
There are many things we've loved about our school (Waldorf-inspired charter, but very faithful to the Waldorf curriculum)--handwork, lots of time to move and play, music, etc, but we don't believe there is enough room for individuality to shine. All the paintings look the same. All the students work at the same level. Reading groups are also not by level. I have spent time volunteering in the classroom, and I see kids act out (talking out of turn, getting up from desks, etc), because they are simply bored because of too much repetition and no resources for gifted/advanced kids.
This is a concern of mine at the moment. There really isn't room for children who may be different in what they need academically.
Since you are considering kinde, I'd say go for it! It will also give you a chance to get to know your school so that you can make an informed choice when it comes to class one.