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Waldorf & the gifted child? - Page 2

post #21 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by emmaegbert View Post

FWIW, I've visited a number of M schools, some of which looked wonderful, others not so much.
This is true. There are good and bad schools with both methods... I toured a not so great M school just the other day. :-/ But that's for another thread. lol
post #22 of 36
Karen,

Have you made a decision yet? I am writing because I am very, good, old friends with the primary person behind the new charter. She is very smart herself and has wonderful, bright kids. I think Waldorf can work for gifted children, but it would depend upon the temperment of the child and the ideals/beliefs of the parents.

While they don't do academics at the early ages, they do move fairly quickly and deeply into them in the later years and in ways that may, for the right child, be more engaging and, given the right teacher and resources, may allow that child to move through the curriculum both faster and perhaps in a deeper, more complex way. For example, the kids create their own textbooks. The could (possibly) allow your child to explore and present mathematical concepts even more in depth than perhaps in working in a rote grade-level math textbook. Another thing they do is they learn all the math operations as a whole - addition, subtraction, division, multiplication at the same time rather than the gradual over-the-years way of traditional schooling. By 6th grade I think they are doing some pretty complex stuff like compounded interest. How they teach reading and writing is also presented more as-a-whole as well rather than lets learn the letters, etc..

One thing I do know is that most Waldorfians (is that a word?) actively discourage acquisition of too much factual knowledge at a young age. They will re-direct a childs interest to one that is more "developmentally-appropriate." Of course, in my mind, what is developmentally appropriate for a gifted child may be vastly different from what is developmentally appropriate for every child. Which is why I disagree almost in whole with Rudolf Steiner on all counts myself. I don't think I'd necessarily have a problem with my daughter going to a Waldorf-Inspired school because of the when/how they learn things and I like the theory of how they teach math (I haven't seen it in action so can't speak to the practical). I just believe my daughter would not have fit well. Her speed of learning, voracious interest in learning factual information, and her personality (she has many over-excitabilities and is 2E (ADHD)) would make her out-of-place in a Waldorf setting. For example, in kindergarten they practice "silent lunch" where they kids don't talk at all during the meal. I am not sure of the purpose, other than I think they really like to create a calm, energy-flowy kind of environment. That would not have worked for my girl. On the other hand, the focus on crafts, including learning how to knit, would have worked great!

I would contact the school founding families and learn more about how it would look. Like others have said, this is a public school, it has to be accountable to the school board (for good or bad), so they are likely not espousing ALL of the anthroposophical (religious/spiritual) learning aspects of Waldorf education. I personally wouldn't want my child labeled according to body-type - differentiating education and teacher interactions based on that is just ... well...

I don't know if this is helpful at all, but I am sure that the founders and/or the new principal would be more than happy to talk to you about your concerns and that would be the best place to answer any of your questions. My friend is an amazing person, and while I am not a fan of Waldorf myself, it seems to have been great for her and her family. Good luck and let us know what you decide.

- Sky
post #23 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by SkySunSea View Post


While they don't do academics at the early ages, they do move fairly quickly and deeply into them in the later years and in ways that may, for the right child, be more engaging and, given the right teacher and resources, may allow that child to move through the curriculum both faster and perhaps in a deeper, more complex way. For example, the kids create their own textbooks. The could (possibly) allow your child to explore and present mathematical concepts even more in depth than perhaps in working in a rote grade-level math textbook. Another thing they do is they learn all the math operations as a whole - addition, subtraction, division, multiplication at the same time rather than the gradual over-the-years way of traditional schooling. By 6th grade I think they are doing some pretty complex stuff like compounded interest. How they teach reading and writing is also presented more as-a-whole as well rather than lets learn the letters, etc..
Just to be clear, in waldorf kids don't explore the curriculum faster and in more depth. The curriculum is the curriculum, and if you knew what was presented on day one, it doesn't mean you'll move on to something more appropriate by day five. This is not a curriculum meant to be individualized to the learner. The way reading is taught is essentially whole language, which is a method fraught w/difficulty for some students. The way math is presented is fragmented unless a teacher decides to do math every day. Otherwise you're looking at math "blocks" which means that sometimes math 'goes away" for a while.

It sounds like your friends are well intentioned, but waldorf is not made for kids who are academically ahead of the curve.
post #24 of 36
Karne,

Thanks for the clarification. Yep, the above is just based on what very, very limited knowledge I have about the curriculum. So what I wrote above should be read with the emphasis on my qualifiers like "may be possible." Like someone said earlier, I also pretty much disagree with Steiner, which means I disagree with a lot. But just because I don't agree with it, I certainly can't prescribe what may or may not be right for another family. It sure sounds like it wouldn't be right for an academically-driven gifted kid.

- Sky
post #25 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by karne View Post
The way math is presented is fragmented unless a teacher decides to do math every day. Otherwise you're looking at math "blocks" which means that sometimes math 'goes away" for a while.
I had to smile at this. Math "going away" was the thing that made me happiest at my Waldorf school. I hated and was terrible at math and couldn't wait till the four weeks of it were over. I knew I'd get a good long break from the horrid stuff till the next time.

Of course, by the time math came around again, weeks or months later, I'd pretty much forgotten whatever I'd learned. Which was hardly the optimal way to become proficient. And I never really did.
post #26 of 36
Quote:
Just to be clear, in waldorf kids don't explore the curriculum faster and in more depth. The curriculum is the curriculum, and if you knew what was presented on day one, it doesn't mean you'll move on to something more appropriate by day five.
I think what she meant was that once academics are introduced, they move quicker through the material than a traditional school. K through 2nd grade in the USA is heavily concentrated on obtaining reading fluency. Waldorf may not introduce reading until 2nd grade but it also doesn't take them 3 years to obtain a fluency. Most of their kids will be reading equal to their traditional schooled peers in a matter of months without having to spend countless hours on phonics worksheets. There is actually some merit to this line of thinking in reguards to reading (and I'm not talking gifted spontanious early readers.... I'm talking average ability kids.)
post #27 of 36
Thread Starter 
Sky,
I have had a few email conversations with the folks at the school and have an open invitation to call the teacher to discuss in depth. They were all very wonderful about addressing my concerns, and explaining their philosophy.

I sat my daughter down the other day and asked what SHE wanted to do. I explained the pros and cons of the Waldorf school as well as continuing to home school. We had a pretty lengthy discussion and I told her to take a few days to think about it and what she thinks she would be happier with. She told me she wants to homeschool for another year. Of course, she's 6, that could change next week, so for the time being, I'm still keeping my options open.
post #28 of 36
Yes, there is merit to later reading form some viewpoints, should you have a child who will read on someone else's timeline. But the kids who don't take three years to be fluent in waldorf also wouldn't take three years to be fluent in another setting as well. The kids who do need a lot of help to become fluent get it fairly intensively in other educational settings, but are often left behind in waldorf. This has little bearing on gifted, early reading children, however, so it's really more of a side note.
post #29 of 36
But the point is, almost all kids are developmentally ready to read by the age of 8. A developmentally ready child will learn to read in about 6 weeks not 3 years. The kids who fall behind in Waldorf in reading have issues that would have plagued them in a traditional school as well. We lengthen the time it takes to obtain fluency by routinely pushing the reading curriculum down to 4 and 5 year olds who in general, are not developmentally ready. Why do we do this when other countries have shown us that later introduction means quicker to fluency and much higher life long literacy rates.

I'm not a fan of all things Waldorf certainly. I think the practice of NOT allowing a child who is ready at 3, 6, 7 start reading is ridiculous. My kids would have fallen apart in such a setting but I'm not going to dismiss everything they stand for when there are some interesting approaches that do work.
post #30 of 36
I think my son has learned far more in Waldorf kindy specifically b/c they aren't at all focused on developmentally inappropriate early academics. Sorry, but kids who are academically gifted will find that mainstream stuff dreadfully boring (as will the more typical kids, who may also learn at the ripe old age of 5 that they are "behind").

That said, as I posted earlier, I've never been considering the grades for my son. THOUGH, I think the best W teachers do not actually shame or look down upon kids who are working at a different level, it seems like it would still be a hard environment for a kid who was outside the norm, with the intense focus on group coherence.
post #31 of 36

My daughter has always been ahead of the curve (she was speaking in sentences at 14 months. only now that i have another little one, do i realise how advanced my first born was/is).

She was at a cutting edge private school with a huge endowment specifically for teacher training. She placed ahead of her class and was grouped with kids 1-2 years older than her. She was learning, and seemed relatively intellectually satiated, but we made the decision to switch her to a Waldorf Kindergarten as her attention started to wane.

 

Our experience:

story telling is through intricate and beautiful puppet shows, skits are performed routinely that tie into special ceremonies like birthdays, children learn to swing on a real rope swing (as opposed to cookie cutter physical structures), they cook and help with the cooking, finger knit, and learn eurythmy.

They listen to stories that are incredibly language rich. And, when my daughter comes home, she recites these stories verbatim. She said that these stories are different from the ones that they heard in her previous school (Stewart Little..etc) because they really make you think.

 

The children identify their cups, baskets, and cubbies by a symbol that the teacher assigns them. Not names.

 

Alphabet rote memorization is NOT the waldorf way. Turns out that they have already begun introducing language through story telling. Tales that are so rich in imagery and verbage.

Apparently when they do teach the alphabet, it is going to be done in a way that taps into all the faculties (an established method of instruction) and something our teacher said had me intrigued: she said, that at the Waldorf they teach the alphabet in a way that is intuitive so you are not having to do the mental gymnastics of ..uhh what comes after M? which I still do..

 

reading or writing is NOT looked down upon at all. Our classroom teachers said that for the period of time betoween 8:30-1pm when the kids attend Kinder, they are not exposed to printed material. However, pretty much every child in her class signs and writes their own name...something that was shockingingly not at all the case in her previous top rated private school.

 

I am about as hard core of a scientist as one can be, and academics is my sole passion in life. My daughter displays the same tendencies, and there is a good chance she will follow the same path. I think that Waldorf will get her there with the beautiful sense of wonderment they infuse through their curriculum, that is undeniably required if one wants to be a scholar of life. 

 

I also like how they tap into all the different senses to drive home a lesson. Work sheets bore me to tears. And, to me it seems that a multi-faceted reiteration of the same material keeps the study material fresh and fun to learn. I have a life long love affair with learning and research, and I hope that my girls become life long learners too.

post #32 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by tpase View Post

your entire quote!

 

I know this is an old thread, but I thought I'd add to it in case someone is still hunting for answers with a similar question. We have 6yo boy-girl twins, who were both tested during Kindergarten last year at their local public school as gifted. I was similarly tested as highly gifted as a child, and their father is no slouch academically either...we knew that it was always likely our kids would be academically inclined. We actually found that being more academically able than their peers (they were in a composite class with 2 higher grades and still blew through all the work) actually caused problems - they were being given just more and more and more work in the teacher's bid to *keep them engaged*, but it was offered in a bubble and out of context (because of course she was busy with the rest of the class), worked to alienate them from the other kids in the class, and ended up with some horrid bullying that caused intense emotional and social upset for my 2 bubbly, happy, otherwise-very-sociable children. Plus they were ending up with so much homework and *enrichment* work (which let's face it, unless done incredibly dynamically - and this wasn't - is really just homework sheets for the parent!) that it almost seemed to have the effect of making Cole and Imogen anti-school and anti *boring meaningless work*.

We considered various options - including a high achieving, academically driven private school - but decided to try Steiner in a bid to allow our children to develop more as *whole people* (let's face it - if you're gifted then you can pick up academics at any time, and with ease - it's the socialisation, the emotional and psychological development that is tricky, that can't be rushed and that often gets overlooked with children who display such a propensity for academia....which can cause all manner of grief later in adulthood)

We shifted them at the end of last year, so they got 8 weeks in a steiner kindergarten before moving to class 1 this year.

 

I could not be more happy with our decision - and neither could Cole and Immy. This just really works for us - there is plenty of opportunity to be active, to use your body, develop your sense of creativity and nurture your sense of joy and wonder in all around you...without the single-minded focus of getting-through-the-work and test scores etc being the only thing of importance. The stories and lessons offered are rich and deeply layered, and always very well tailored to the child's development. There's also a big focus on the natural world - getting out into it, appreciating it and our part within it.

That said - I think it all depends on your Steiner school - we just happened to hit the jackpot! Linuwel is definitely Steiner, but not as rigid and dogmatic as it seems some others are, and there is plenty of space allowed for individuality to shine through! Their teacher knows that they are both fluent readers, and whilst the class is still learning their alphabet, the lessons are presented in such a contextual, enriched manner that both children are interested and enjoy these lessons - they're engaged and stimulated and aren't bored to tears by it all (I confess I was a little nervous about this!)...and then they come home and will often curl up with a book to read to themselves! Their teacher is very accepting of everyone having different talents and encouranging of that being a good thing. I think now I can see there is too much focus on reading right from the get go in mainstream education - and once it's acquired, the focus is on shovelling in factoids and data as fast as possible, without nearly enough attention to context and the development of the whole child.

 

Cole and Immy started back today at school after 2 weeks off for the end of term 1, and both kids were counting down the days until they got to go back...and I like to think we had a fun, enjoyable break, with plenty of time together and a few exciting adventures...it's not like we kept them locked in the cupboard for 2 weeks, ha! The fact that they so look forward to going and so love being there speaks volumes to me. That and the fact that I think it's increased their creative desires, if that's possible...gawd knows there not a cardboard box or paper roll that goes unmolested in our house!!! :)

I guess I just wanted to add my 2 cents' worth - that if you are looking for an option for a gifted child, discounting Steiner schools completely would be a mistake. It all depends on the school itself, but you just might find a gem like we did where your gifted children can truly blossom!

post #33 of 36
Thanks, Jolie for your response, and bringing this discussion back to the forefront of my conscious thought. It is timely, as we are now - almost at the end of our first year at a Steiner school - looking to switch our children to mainstream education.
The pace of learning at our particular school has not worked for my children (very unfortunately, as I still really like the theory upon which steiner pedagogy rests, and the execution of the curriculum).
In retrospect it makes sense. Both kids hv inherited an intense thirst for knowledge and are not content with waiting for it to trickle down - ever so gently- as it does at Steiner schools. I felt like a hypocrite telling my child to be patient (while we wait for her physical body to catch up), while my husband and I have always sought out the faster track to gaining knowledge. Even that I could have swallowed had it not been for my daughter's obvious despondency with school because.she doesn't feel challenged. My job is to protect her interests despite my personal preferences for educational methods and she seems to not be thriving in a Steiner school despite liking her peers and teachers.
Our tentative plan is to transfer into a mainstream faster paced academic nnvironment and follow the Steiner curriculum at home to deepen educational concepts.In the end, I think both my kids might want to pursue academic fields and I want to make sure they get schooled in the tools required to be excellent in math, physics, science and language arts. Once this basic schooling has occurred, they are free to choose whatever profession or vocation they might fancy. That's.the basic plan.
So, in a nutshell, for us the *pace* of the curriculum fell short. I cannot speak to the breadth as my.children are still young. But I plan to study the curriculum to see if I can bring the beauty of Steiner curriculum into mainstream education on my own terms.
post #34 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by whatsnextmom View Post

But the point is, almost all kids are developmentally ready to read by the age of 8. A developmentally ready child will learn to read in about 6 weeks not 3 years. The kids who fall behind in Waldorf in reading have issues that would have plagued them in a traditional school as well. We lengthen the time it takes to obtain fluency by routinely pushing the reading curriculum down to 4 and 5 year olds who in general, are not developmentally ready. Why do we do this when other countries have shown us that later introduction means quicker to fluency and much higher life long literacy rates.


I'm not a fan of all things Waldorf certainly. I think the practice of NOT allowing a child who is ready at 3, 6, 7 start reading is ridiculous. My kids would have fallen apart in such a setting but I'm not going to dismiss everything they stand for when there are some interesting approaches that do work.

Couldn't agree with you more.
The Steiner method has a lot that is sensible and well-conceived. However, in our case, my children are inadequately challenged and unhappy for it. It is not merely the reading or the academics, it is an overall gap that they seem to feel, and so for us, the best method will be to school them traditionally and supplement with Waldorf. The converse would simply not work.
post #35 of 36
Honestly I think the issues brought up in this thread are why there aren't *more* Waldorf schools! Parents love the idea of it, and I understand the anthroposophical reasons why reading should be delayed etc. but it just doesn't feel right to me, especially for children who are hungry to learn! The opposite side of the spectrum, for example a local private school that prides itself on technology in the classroom and very kid having an ipad, well that doesn't feel good to me either!
post #36 of 36

Hi Jolie, We are a Steiner family from Kamaroi in Sydney looking to move to Linuwel next term.  I was so happy to hear that you struck gold with the school.  I'd love to speak to you more if possible as my little boy would be in the same class.  Ive also got another boy that would be going into class 2.  I feel that Steiner education works for both my children who are at completely different ends of the academic spectrum.

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