We researched Waldorf for our children......I attend a mommy and me type class with my boys, and have been for over a year now. The school is very young....as of this point it has preschool classes up to 3rd grade. I asked about the Waldorf philosophy of not teaching reading until the milk teeth fall out......and it is just that, they do not 'teach', per say, reading, but the children are read to several times through out the day.....and *Many* children learn to read in a very natural way before they turn 7 years old. Most of the children were writing in the second grade class....They were making books, with beautiful illustrations to express their ideas about adding and subtracting. Art and nature is the foundation of the program taught in the school that I was considering. Mind you, we had come from a wonderful Montessori school that my daughter had attended for five years. She started there when she was 2 1/2. We ended up not choosing the Waldorf program for her, not because we were upset by the environment of the school.....It was really lovely.....But because the school itself was so young, that they did not have a second grade teacher, and were in the process of hiring. I was not comfortable committing to the school, without knowing everything I could about the class that Kaitlyn would be in.
As far as being cult like, that was not what I saw at this Waldorf school.....There was a wide mix of religions, Pagans, Christians, and Jews, all together, honoring nature. They believe in turning off the TV....Wearing simple, natural clothing.....Eating healthy, organic foods......Making whatever you can, rather than buying.....Loving and caring for Mother Earth.....Surrounding yourself with natural and wholesome items in your home. Everything about the philosophy that this school offered, I believe in. The whole of Anthroposophy was *not* pushed at you....I asked about this with the head of school, and other mothers, and I was told that the school does not, and would not, bring religion into it's environment. So, while some school may have a strong Anthroposophic base, not *all* Waldorf schools do. If you are interested in the Waldorf philosophy, go to one of the schools in your area, and find out yourself what their environment is like. It is like Montessori.....Sadly, anyone can tack on the name Montessori to their school name, and they do not need to be AMI, AMS, or IMS accredited. You need to ask out right if they are. You need to look at the classrooms, and see for yourself if they actually have proper Montessori tools. Research is the key to finding any good school for your children. Never rule out an entire methodology based on the opinion of a few people. You can always find someone to argue both sides of any argument.....It is always best to search things out for yourself.