or Connect
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Childhood and Beyond › Education › Learning at School › Waldorf › Waldorf education and dyslexia - UPDATE Post #23
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Waldorf education and dyslexia - UPDATE Post #23

post #1 of 39
Thread Starter 
Hi all,

I'm just beginning to learn about Waldorf and look at it as a serious option for DS (read more below) However, what concerns me is how a typical Waldorf school would deal with a dyslexic kid. Anyone have experience? I'm hoping for some information/perspective/BTDT from you all. (and please forgive me if this topic has been covered already. I looked in the past postings but didn't find anything. I might have missed posts/threads though). Obviously, we'll talk to the school itself, but I'd love some personal experience, anecdotes, or even some references to books, articles, etc.

DH and I are at the very very beginning of thinking about the local Waldorf school for DS (age 7.5; he'll be 8 in December). We live in Continental Europe, but his US equivalent grade is 2nd grade. He's been going to a very traditional school since pre-kindergarten, though they didn't start teaching kids to read til last year (1st grade), which is something I like about the system in the country in which we live.

Why are we thinking about moving to the Waldorf school? Because DS is having a really hard time socially at his current school. He's simply not made any friends, is picked on, called names, and sometimes bullied (yes, we've worked with the school and, no, I don't see it getting better). We think a complete change of scene might be better for him socially, as he's losing his self-confidence. He is social, has a best friend in the neighbor boy, and is a great kid. Just not sporty and somehow has become the magnet for being picked on by other kids at his current school.

Moreover, although DS seems to function well in the very "classical" traditional method of learning at his school, he has started saying that he feels like the school puts too much pressure on the kids, that he feels sorry for the kids in his class who can't do their math quickly enough, and that he wants to do more creative things (he's *extremely* creative, a 3D thinker, and wants and needs to work with his hands). All of which have slowly led me to the idea that the local Waldorf school might be a better fit (despite, to be honest, my initial dismissal of a lot of anthroposophic thought)

The problem: We're fairly sure DS is dyslexic.

Dyslexia runs very strongly in DH's family. DH, himself, is mildly dyslexic and we've started the process of getting outside assessments for DS. He's also working with the remedial teacher at his present school. He's not far behind the other kids . . .. just a bit below grade level and his reading comprehension is happily very good. However, he doesn't "automate" his reading well, according to the tests and school, and he's flunked the standardized speed reading tests (basically, how many words you can read out loud correctly in three minutes [i find it a stupid test, but it's not really my call. it's national]). Reading certainly isn't easy for him and, given the family history of dyslexia, we want to help him as much as possible because he does love learning and love books.

So . ... if you've made it through this long post, I thank you!
post #2 of 39
well, couldn't read and not respond.

i think that, in a lot of ways, waldorf school would be good for your son. the focus on handwork, for example, and doing a lot of things using multiple learning styles is great. there are a number of videos on youtube that show the waldorf style of education, so you can see how they work on it for different learning styles. fascinating stuff.

with reading/etc and dyslexia, i you might be interesting in this book: http://www.steinerbooks.org/detail.h...=9780863157097

you might also find out if any of the teachers have read it or are willing to, what the school's process is, and so on.

because waldorf focuses on the child "unlocking the code" of reading themselves, and also, as i've heard from my friends who are varying forms of dyslexic, the way that they read is completely different than most were actually taught (forced?), which seems to more closely mirror the creative-imaginative process that waldorf encourages in learning to read.

that being said, i have no direct experience. and being tired, i have no idea if the above sentence even makes sense.

but, definitely check it out and ask questions about the school.
post #3 of 39
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by zoebird View Post
well, couldn't read and not respond.

i think that, in a lot of ways, waldorf school would be good for your son. the focus on handwork, for example, and doing a lot of things using multiple learning styles is great. there are a number of videos on youtube that show the waldorf style of education, so you can see how they work on it for different learning styles. fascinating stuff.

with reading/etc and dyslexia, i you might be interesting in this book: http://www.steinerbooks.org/detail.h...=9780863157097

you might also find out if any of the teachers have read it or are willing to, what the school's process is, and so on.

because waldorf focuses on the child "unlocking the code" of reading themselves, and also, as i've heard from my friends who are varying forms of dyslexic, the way that they read is completely different than most were actually taught (forced?), which seems to more closely mirror the creative-imaginative process that waldorf encourages in learning to read.

that being said, i have no direct experience. and being tired, i have no idea if the above sentence even makes sense.

but, definitely check it out and ask questions about the school.
Thanks for taking the time to respond, ZB. Much appreciated.

I took a look at the link and will definitely get the book. I like that the author has looked into the "Davis Method" for dyslexia. It's something my DH and I are thinking about for DS. In fact, we've spoken with someone in our town who helps kids using the Davis technique. Unfortunately, she's fully booked for the next few weeks, but we are scheduled to see her.

Anyway, I've been doing some reading about Waldorf and dyslexia and I do think it *could* be a good thing for him to move schools, though we'll ask some tough questions when we go to visit.

The main problems I've read about re: Waldorf and dyslexia is that it often isn't diagnosed in time due to the lack of emphasis on early reading. For instance, one reason we've always been really negative about Waldorf is that DH's cousin (also dyslexic . .. as I mentioned in my OP, dyslexia is *very* strong in his family) went to a Waldorf school and couldn't read when she was 10 because the school never pushed her. She's never really caught up and has struggled academically and, to some degree, socially ever since.

However, we are already very on top of the issue of dyslexia, have already had an outside assessment done (waiting for the results day after tomorrow) and DS has already been working with a remedial teacher. The Waldorf school seems to have (at least their school handbook online says they do . ... ) a very good dyslexia protocol (better than the school where DS is now!), and times have changed. Schools are now just more aware of dyslexia and learning difficulties. All this to say, I'm thinking that the problems at Waldorf schools in the past with dyslexia *might* not be a problem now.

DS is such a 3D, hands on, creative learner and thinker that, coupled with the social problems at the current school, it could be Waldorf is our answer. We'll very definitely schedule an appointment asap to look.

And, please, if anyone else out there has any perspective, ideas, BTDT, I'd *really really* appreciate hearing them. I'm a researcher by profession, so I feel "naked" without enough information!
post #4 of 39
I'm a Steiner teacher, with at least one seriously dyslexic child in my class, but I hesitated to post because

a) I know that the way I teach is far from typical

b) There isn't much to say besides "it depends on the school"

It is a known problem is that sometimes dyslexic children in a Waldorf school will be undiagnosed until age 9 or 10. I've come across one case of that. I think it very much depends on the teacher and / or the school. You often hear 'oh we don't expect children to be independent readers until Class 3' and in a way that's true, but you can interpret this principle in many ways and with varying degrees of literalness, from really not expecting much in the way of reading before Class 3 to expecting reasonable progress from term to term and being on the look out for persistent difficulties. There are children who will reverse letters or struggle to blend or seem to be stuck in a certain stage for a while and then move through this without the need for specific intervention -- and in this cases I think watching and waiting is a good approach, much better than jumping and trying to 'solve the problem' -- but there are children who need help to get unstuck, even children who will need help every step of the way. A good teacher should be able to tell the difference after observing for a while.

But then this hardly applies to your case since you already suspect your child has dyslexia, and you can approach the teacher with this in mind. If the school has a protocol in place, I see very little cause for worry.

I don't know where you stand on the issue, but I do think dyslexia can be remediated through movement, and this is something a Waldorf school might do well, either intentionally or not. Of course doing it intentionally is better, but I find even teachers who are unaware of this kind of thing often include a lot of the right type of movement in their lessons. I also think that dyslexia is an umbrella term, i.e. a list of symptoms that could have several different causes. Different children would benefit from different approaches.

I'd be happy to discuss this kind of thing at length if you'd like to, I've done quite a lot of reading (from a Waldorf / Enki / Sensory Integration / Brain Gym / etc. perspective, no Davis approach though!) on this kind of thing. Feel free to reply or message me.
post #5 of 39
You are very wise to explore this prior to making a school decision. I will give you some BTDT advice. and you can see what resonates with you. First, if you are having outside evals done, and you have solid info on your child, prior to entering school, that's a positive. I would not allow a waldorf school or remediator to be part of diagnosis, beyond providing observations. If you can get a solid dx., and understand what your ds needs in terms of skill building and direct instruction, and understand that this is a daily piece of work that needs to happen, you can bring that to the school as part of an educational plan for your child.

As you know, dyslexia can impact many areas of learning, not only reading. And, there are many gifts that can be the "flip" side of dyslexia, including amazing creativity, excellent comprehension, etc. So, you may be seeing something very slight, or more severe, and your child's educational experience will depend upon where he falls within that range. Is handwriting affected, or math skills? It's important to know what the whole picture looks like, and you may not see this for a while.

The difficult issues in waldorf schools is that the plan for remediating anything seems to be movement, or curative eurythmy. It would be like taking a child with dyslexia in another setting and providing PT or OT as the plan for help. It doesn't work except as an adjunct. Most kids with a true dyslexia (not just late bloomers, or late readers-that's an entirely different , non-neurological situation), require explicit instruction, on a very consistent basis. That's why programs such as Orton Gillingham, or Barton or Davis tend to be so successful-provided they are done correctly. You can't really do this successfully in a "block" program-it has to be done consistently. If you've done reading about this issue, you know that the idea, for true dyslexics, that they will mature out of their dyslexia, is a myth. Waiting does very little for a child who needs to be taught, except to produce 3rd and 4th graders who are essentially illiterate.

As the above poster says, everything will hinge on the class teacher in terms of their understanding and willingness to accept and implement the best teaching practices for your child. I would take whatever program the school has in place and ask the specialists dx your son their view of it. I would bring a specialist in to meet with the class teacher and yourseleves and work out an understaning of your childs needs, prior to enrollment. This goes against most of waldorf, which espouses one method for everyone, and an extremely specific view of children with LD's.

Good luck. You're bound to hear the stories of kids who couldn't read until they picked up War and Peace, or who didn't read until 5th grade, and all was fine then, etc. It doesn't matter because the only experience that matters is your child's. There is a price to be paid by the kids who struggle, w/out proper assistance.

Lots of BTDT experience-I deeply regret allowing my child to flounder in the early grades without appropriate teaching, and steiner methods are extremely limited. We're extremely fortunate to have been able to correct the situation.
post #6 of 39
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by DimitraDaisy View Post
I'm a Steiner teacher, with at least one seriously dyslexic child in my class, but I hesitated to post because

a) I know that the way I teach is far from typical

b) There isn't much to say besides "it depends on the school"

It is a known problem is that sometimes dyslexic children in a Waldorf school will be undiagnosed until age 9 or 10. I've come across one case of that. I think it very much depends on the teacher and / or the school. You often hear 'oh we don't expect children to be independent readers until Class 3' and in a way that's true, but you can interpret this principle in many ways and with varying degrees of literalness, from really not expecting much in the way of reading before Class 3 to expecting reasonable progress from term to term and being on the look out for persistent difficulties. There are children who will reverse letters or struggle to blend or seem to be stuck in a certain stage for a while and then move through this without the need for specific intervention -- and in this cases I think watching and waiting is a good approach, much better than jumping and trying to 'solve the problem' -- but there are children who need help to get unstuck, even children who will need help every step of the way. A good teacher should be able to tell the difference after observing for a while.

But then this hardly applies to your case since you already suspect your child has dyslexia, and you can approach the teacher with this in mind. If the school has a protocol in place, I see very little cause for worry.

I don't know where you stand on the issue, but I do think dyslexia can be remediated through movement, and this is something a Waldorf school might do well, either intentionally or not. Of course doing it intentionally is better, but I find even teachers who are unaware of this kind of thing often include a lot of the right type of movement in their lessons. I also think that dyslexia is an umbrella term, i.e. a list of symptoms that could have several different causes. Different children would benefit from different approaches.

I'd be happy to discuss this kind of thing at length if you'd like to, I've done quite a lot of reading (from a Waldorf / Enki / Sensory Integration / Brain Gym / etc. perspective, no Davis approach though!) on this kind of thing. Feel free to reply or message me.
Thanks so very much for responding in so detailed a way. I very much appreciate it. I will meet with the outside assessor on Tuesday afternoon, so I'll have more information about what the specific issues she has seen with DS' reading. If you don't mind, I'd like to send you a PM when I know a bit more to ask how you would deal with those issues and also how you think I might best approach the local Waldorf school.

Quote:
Originally Posted by karne View Post
You are very wise to explore this prior to making a school decision. I will give you some BTDT advice. and you can see what resonates with you. First, if you are having outside evals done, and you have solid info on your child, prior to entering school, that's a positive. I would not allow a waldorf school or remediator to be part of diagnosis, beyond providing observations. If you can get a solid dx., and understand what your ds needs in terms of skill building and direct instruction, and understand that this is a daily piece of work that needs to happen, you can bring that to the school as part of an educational plan for your child.
We'll get the outside assessor's report on Tuesday, so I'll know more then, as I mentioned in response to DD's post. I think we'll then have a better idea of what, specifically, to ask the Waldorf school about their dyslexia program. And we are absolutely committed to working with him daily. We already do, actually, and were the ones who pushed his current school into giving him remedial teaching.

I do like the fact that where we live in continental Europe is not big on pushing early reading (and this is the traditional schools, not even Waldorf!). The flip side is that they've not been very proactive in working with us in addressing what, to us, seem pretty clear signs of dyslexia, especially given the family history. That means that we're paying out of pocket for all the outside assessments ourselves and the school thinks we're a bit over the top.

Be that as it may, re: Waldorf, it's left us with two very differing thoughts: 1) would we be jumping from the frying pan into the fire with the laissez-faire attitude toward early intervention, diagnosis, "treatment" of dyslexia?; or

2) does it really matter because the traditional school isn't doing too much anyway, so why not go to Waldorf where DS would probably be happier, especially since we're already most likely going to engage an outside tutor?

Quote:
Originally Posted by karne View Post
As you know, dyslexia can impact many areas of learning, not only reading. And, there are many gifts that can be the "flip" side of dyslexia, including amazing creativity, excellent comprehension, etc. So, you may be seeing something very slight, or more severe, and your child's educational experience will depend upon where he falls within that range. Is handwriting affected, or math skills? It's important to know what the whole picture looks like, and you may not see this for a while.
DS is amazingly creative. Truly gifted in that realm. He's a fantastic artist and has such an incredible ability to visualize in 3D, to think outside of the box and, yes, to comprehend. In fact, his reading comprehension scores on the standardized tests were very good and probably would have been even better except that he reads so slowly.

His handwriting is bad. His math skills are good and he always does very well in math, though he's not at the "gifted" level and he is slow (but accurate).

Quote:
Originally Posted by karne View Post
The difficult issues in waldorf schools is that the plan for remediating anything seems to be movement, or curative eurythmy. It would be like taking a child with dyslexia in another setting and providing PT or OT as the plan for help. It doesn't work except as an adjunct. Most kids with a true dyslexia (not just late bloomers, or late readers-that's an entirely different , non-neurological situation), require explicit instruction, on a very consistent basis. That's why programs such as Orton Gillingham, or Barton or Davis tend to be so successful-provided they are done correctly. You can't really do this successfully in a "block" program-it has to be done consistently. If you've done reading about this issue, you know that the idea, for true dyslexics, that they will mature out of their dyslexia, is a myth. Waiting does very little for a child who needs to be taught, except to produce 3rd and 4th graders who are essentially illiterate.
I had no idea about the eurythmy for dyslexia until you and DD above mentioned it. While I don't suppose I'd have any objection to it, per se (as in, can't hurt, might help), I would certainly *not* feel comfortable with that being anything other than an adjunct treatment. Depending on what the assessor says, we'll probably go with a plan for more traditional methods of dyslexia tutoring and/or the Davis method, though, unfortunately, we can't get in to see the Davis Method person for a while yet.

And, no, DS won't mature out of this. DH hasn't! The up side, of course, is that DH loves to read. He just reads *slowly* . .. . and he's a terrible speller, but I guess that's what spellcheck is for! But, seriously, we know this is genetic and we also know that DH, even though he grew up in the 70s and 80s with little or know knowledge in schools of dyslexia, still graduated high school, got an MA, has a job he loves, and reads daily. We just have to get DS to that point . . . Hence, our focus on early intervention and also our hesitation about Waldorf.

Quote:
Originally Posted by karne View Post
As the above poster says, everything will hinge on the class teacher in terms of their understanding and willingness to accept and implement the best teaching practices for your child. I would take whatever program the school has in place and ask the specialists dx your son their view of it. I would bring a specialist in to meet with the class teacher and yourseleves and work out an understaning of your childs needs, prior to enrollment. This goes against most of waldorf, which espouses one method for everyone, and an extremely specific view of children with LD's.
Great advice. Thanks. As I'm still relatively ignorant of a lot of Steiner's philosophies, would you mind filling me in on what the specific view of children with LDs is?

Quote:
Originally Posted by karne View Post
Good luck. You're bound to hear the stories of kids who couldn't read until they picked up War and Peace, or who didn't read until 5th grade, and all was fine then, etc. It doesn't matter because the only experience that matters is your child's. There is a price to be paid by the kids who struggle, w/out proper assistance.
Thank you. And, while I have no doubt that some kids are as you describe, I know DS, if left to his own devices, would basically never read. It's just too hard and frustrating for him. And that's upsetting to us, but we're doing what we can. I'm not willing to let DS struggle socially at his current school, and I'm certainly not going to let him struggle without help with his reading problems, no matter what school he goes to.

Quote:
Originally Posted by karne View Post
Lots of BTDT experience-I deeply regret allowing my child to flounder in the early grades without appropriate teaching, and steiner methods are extremely limited. We're extremely fortunate to have been able to correct the situation.
I'm so sorry to hear about your child's situation. If you feel like it would be more appropriate, please PM me with more details. I realize that this can be a very divisive subject and I'm truly open to hearing all sorts of stories -- good, bad, neutral. For us, moving schools is a Big Deal and we want to make the right choice so we're not moving him *again* in a few years.

Again, many many thanks to you all for taking the time to give me such articulate, helpful replies.
post #7 of 39
OP, I think that you have a solid handle on things. The reality is that no matter where, or how, our kids are schooled, we as parents are always going to have to be 110% on top of what their needs are, and making sure that they are met. You are ahead of the game, knowing as much as you do.

And, to be positive, my child is a glowing success story. Loves, loves to read, and is rarely without a book. I am not worried about the pace of reading as long as the love of reading is there. The biggist piece was to never, ever let this seem like it was an insurmountable obstacle. Kids are resilient, and having amazing capacity for growth, esp. given the right tools.

It doesn't have to be a divisive issue at all. Just be clear about what you need to for your son, and advocate. Moving schools is a huge deal, and the change in methodology is drastic. But, at the end of the day, you still have the ability to make sure whatever help is needed is provided.
post #8 of 39
I can give you my experience, but I also must add that it depends a lot on the school and the teacher.

When I was a student at a WS, I had terrible difficulties with math. They were never addressed. I was made to feel like an idiot because I couldn't keep up with the class. It was treated as a personal failing, not something that a little tutoring could help.

There were two left-handed kids in my class. Me and a boy. The boy was forced to use his right hand. My parents told the teacher not to do this to me and I was left alone. The boy had problems doing pretty much everything, especially reading and writing. As a former teacher, looking back, I've long thought he was probably dyslexic. The forced right-handedness only made things worse.

A couple of kids in my class had special needs which were ignored until their parents took them (were encouraged them to take them, according to my mother) out of the school.

This was in the 70's and 80's at a highly respected, old WS. I'm sure times have changed and there is more sensitivity to the idea of special needs, different learning styles, etc. I think that if you as the parent are satisfied with the teacher and prepared to really stay on top of things, your son could be ok at a WS. But I urge you to abandon the idea that Waldorf is about children developing at their own pace. Its is about children developing according to the pace established by Rudolph Steiner.
post #9 of 39
one thing that is really important in your posts, i think, is the fact that either way, you will have an outside method of making sure your son's needs get met. after all, it appears to be necessary for the school he is in, and so why would you not continue it if any other school--including the one he is in--isn't going to provide the help that you think he needs?

so this takes it to the next questions which are relevant: would the waldorf method be better for my son's unique (and gifted) learning styles? how do waldorf teachers/anthroposophy view learning disabilities, and how would this view positively or negatively affect his experience at school? and definitely talk to the individual teachers with whom he may be placed, so that you can learn about their specific backgrounds and processes in regards to both his special needs and his gifts.

also, i am a big fan of curative eurhythmy myself. looking at the information from the Family Hope Center--a group of neurologists who focus on healing brain injuries such as CP, and organic brain differences such as ADHD and autism, a large part of their protocols are physical therapy (also nutritional therapy). this is to say that the brain responds or changes based on movement and breath. as a yoga teacher, i took a training through them about healing the brain through breath and movement, talking about using certain kinds of movement such as cross referencing by reaching behind grabbing opposite foot with opposite hand (right foot, left hand) for example, with a jump in between. what is interesting is that when i later took a course in curative eurhythmy (it was an intro course, after taking an intro to eurhythmy course), a lot of the processes were very similar.

this is not to say that the brain needs to be healed as in the cases of brain injuries, but rather that the movement can help facilitate pathways in the brain that make things easier to access.

so, i do actually think that it works, but with everything, it works best when there is a holistic approach--when it is only one part of the whole equation. for you to then back up that work with tutoring in a specific method outside of school, and whatever the teacher would facilitate in the classroom within the waldorf methods, you might find a holistic approach to his learning that will keep him excited and get him really into reading.

one of my dyslexic friends is an actor, and he admits that the reading is the hardest part, and it's a huge part of his job, but once he gets a handle on it (and he uses rhythmic movement to help him translate words from the page into the spoken, and then 3-d environment of his body as an actor, then the environment of the stage or film set), then it's no problem. he actually teaches other dyslexic actors how to use rhythm/movement to "garnish" the words and move them into a 3-d space.

so, i do believe eurhythmy can help, among other modalities.
post #10 of 39
and it's true, WS are as didactic as any other school. it's just a different pedagogy than other schools.
post #11 of 39
If you're wanting more info on the approach a WS would take then look up "Extra Lesson" if you haven't already come across it. I think that's what most WSs would offer in addition to the class teacher. I don't know a lot about it but I would think there would be a lot of movement stuff, like zoebird has mentioned.
post #12 of 39
"Curative eurythmy" doesn't work best as part of a wholistic approach for children with dyslexia, although the best approaches, such as OG include a multi-sensory approach. This is what makes waldorf uniquely needing to be approached with extreme caution when it comes to this area. The best, and most proven, techniques start with actually teaching the child, understanding the complex way the brain works, and understanding true basics such as phonemic awareness. What tends to fall apart is that waldorf teachers are trained via the early 20th century methods of a mystic who dabbled in education, and had some good, and some flawed ideas. But science is very important here, and knowing how to bring the material to children who need it requires a full, and often explicit training in the field of education and special education. And, knowing when to call for help is extremely problematic in the setting of a waldorf school because waldorf is often loath to include, or even acknowledge, the need for straigtforward teaching, or methodologies outside of it's own very rigid pedagogy. One often hears about "not pushing" academics, but there is a vast difference between pushing and teaching.

There are exceptions-DimitraDaisy consistently posts here with what appears to be interesting and against the grain teaching methods. This is what is needed in order to not end up with kids who can barely read, have suffered through years of "exercises", special diets, copper rods, chants, etc., but still need to be taught the basics.

I don't subscribe to the idea that something is wrong with the brain of folks with dyslexia that needs to be "cured". But I do think that a frank and realistic understanding of what dyslexia is, and means in the lifetime of an individual is essential.

A nice resource is the Eides website, as well as the book Overcoming Dyslexia-lots of good info there.
post #13 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by karne View Post
The best, and most proven, techniques start with actually teaching the child, understanding the complex way the brain works, and understanding true basics such as phonemic awareness.
Can anyone correct me here but I thought phonemic awareness was a big thing in Steiner schools? Only part of the equation, I know. Thanks.
post #14 of 39
please note that i was not asserting that curative eurhythmy is the answer to dyslexia, but rather that any movement modality can be part of a holistic process of learning (or healing) when there are unique circumstances. holistic is inclusive--which means also looking outside of waldorf, as i asserted in the post above.

and yes, the focus tends to be on phenomic awareness, but not in the same methodologies as in specific dyslexic education.
post #15 of 39
The focus on phonemic awareness is fine, when you have phonemic awareness. The problem is when a child is lacking this, among the other issues a child w/dyslexia might have.
post #16 of 39
To the OP: yes, by all means, do send me a PM.

To everyone else: I am not talking about curative Eurhythmy, I am talking about movement in general, and things with solid research behind them, like traditional SI theory, HANDLE, and Brain Gym, to name the few I am best acquainted with. But as zoebird said, I have observed that a lot of different movement remediation programmes use the same movement patterns. I firmly believe that movement can lay new pathways in the brain. In some cases, in young children, this is enough. In others, it is not. There definitely is one child in my class for whom movement has been hugely beneficial and yet nowhere near enough. She benefits from a structured program with a lot of repetition and very, very small steps forward.

Quote:
Originally Posted by lyrebird View Post
Can anyone correct me here but I thought phonemic awareness was a big thing in Steiner schools? Only part of the equation, I know. Thanks.
It was in my training course, in any case.
post #17 of 39
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by karne View Post
OP, I think that you have a solid handle on things. The reality is that no matter where, or how, our kids are schooled, we as parents are always going to have to be 110% on top of what their needs are, and making sure that they are met. You are ahead of the game, knowing as much as you do.
Thanks! And, yes, that's my philosophy, too. I'm not overbearing (or try not to be, though I've been pushy re: dyslexia and bullying in his current school). Wherever he is, I want to be actively involved and know what's going on.

Quote:
Originally Posted by karne View Post
And, to be positive, my child is a glowing success story. Loves, loves to read, and is rarely without a book. I am not worried about the pace of reading as long as the love of reading is there. The biggist piece was to never, ever let this seem like it was an insurmountable obstacle. Kids are resilient, and having amazing capacity for growth, esp. given the right tools.
Fabulous! That's what I want for my son. He *loves* books, loves learning, and we just had to build a bigger bookcase for all his books. If only he could begin to *read* all those books, though . .. ..

I'm not worried about the pace of reading, either. DH reads sooooo sloooowly, but loves loves loves to read (in multiple languages). I just find it so silly that the kids are even tested on how quickly they can read (how many words they can read correctly in three minutes . ... the tests DS flunked).

And thanks for the encouragement. It does sometimes seem insurmountable, especially with all the social stuff thrown in, and it all coming together at once. I'm trying to stay focused and explore as many possibilities as I can, but I do get overwhelmed and very sad for DS.

Quote:
Originally Posted by karne View Post
It doesn't have to be a divisive issue at all. Just be clear about what you need to for your son, and advocate. Moving schools is a huge deal, and the change in methodology is drastic. But, at the end of the day, you still have the ability to make sure whatever help is needed is provided.
Thanks for getting that moving school is a Big Deal. I never moved school (same school, same building, K-12), though I actually don't think this was healthy because I got placed in a certain "category" by the other kids at around DS' age and never got out of it; hence my concern for what's going on with DS socially.

But, yeah, he's been at the current school since he was 4 for pre-K, DH and I know a lot of families there and made friends with them, it's a neighborhood school (only a 4 minute walk from our house!), and we've invested a lot of time as volunteers at the school. So jumping off into the unknown, especially into a system such as Waldorf which, as PhD and empirical researcher, I've been dismissive of, seems scary -- especially with dyslexia thrown in!

Quote:
Originally Posted by zinemama View Post
I can give you my experience, but I also must add that it depends a lot on the school and the teacher.

When I was a student at a WS, I had terrible difficulties with math. They were never addressed. I was made to feel like an idiot because I couldn't keep up with the class. It was treated as a personal failing, not something that a little tutoring could help.

There were two left-handed kids in my class. Me and a boy. The boy was forced to use his right hand. My parents told the teacher not to do this to me and I was left alone. The boy had problems doing pretty much everything, especially reading and writing. As a former teacher, looking back, I've long thought he was probably dyslexic. The forced right-handedness only made things worse.

A couple of kids in my class had special needs which were ignored until their parents took them (were encouraged them to take them, according to my mother) out of the school.

This was in the 70's and 80's at a highly respected, old WS. I'm sure times have changed and there is more sensitivity to the idea of special needs, different learning styles, etc. I think that if you as the parent are satisfied with the teacher and prepared to really stay on top of things, your son could be ok at a WS. But I urge you to abandon the idea that Waldorf is about children developing at their own pace. Its is about children developing according to the pace established by Rudolph Steiner.
Thanks for sharing your experience and I'm so very sorry that this happened to you. Stories like this (from any school) make my blood boil.

I think the key element that I keep hearing from all you wonderful posters is the teacher. I'll look forward to meeting him/her and see what s/he says and the "feel" I get from the school and, most particularly, the class.

Quote:
Originally Posted by zoebird View Post
one thing that is really important in your posts, i think, is the fact that either way, you will have an outside method of making sure your son's needs get met. after all, it appears to be necessary for the school he is in, and so why would you not continue it if any other school--including the one he is in--isn't going to provide the help that you think he needs?
Exactly. This is what I keep coming back to. We've already circumvented what I see as the rather slow and inactive school procedure to DS tested and to push his current school for remedial help. Plus, we'll either engage a specialized tutor or (and?) look at the Davis Method to help him. If I felt that the Waldorf school wasn't open to this, I think that would be a deal breaker for DH and me.

Quote:
Originally Posted by zoebird View Post
so this takes it to the next questions which are relevant: would the waldorf method be better for my son's unique (and gifted) learning styles? how do waldorf teachers/anthroposophy view learning disabilities, and how would this view positively or negatively affect his experience at school? and definitely talk to the individual teachers with whom he may be placed, so that you can learn about their specific backgrounds and processes in regards to both his special needs and his gifts.
I do think Waldorf method would be better for DS. He is an amazingly creative kid who is smart, but doesn't necessarily preform well under pressure. If it were up to him, he'd draw, paint, create with clay, build with Kapla or Lego, and do "experiments" all day. At the moment, the technique for doing reading at his current school -- kids taking turns reading aloud -- is agony for him.

I honestly don't know how waldor teachers/anthroposophy views learning diasabilities. Could someone weigh in on this?

I'm very certain that DS' dyslexia is genetic and it's not a character flaw nor a legacy from a past life. I'm willing to consider Waldorf because I'm AP enough to admit that the overall learning style could be the best fit for my DS, despite what i might think (once again, as a research scientist by profession) of some of the elements of the overall philosophy.


Quote:
Originally Posted by zoebird View Post
also, i am a big fan of curative eurhythmy myself. looking at the information from the Family Hope Center--a group of neurologists who focus on healing brain injuries such as CP, and organic brain differences such as ADHD and autism, a large part of their protocols are physical therapy (also nutritional therapy). this is to say that the brain responds or changes based on movement and breath. as a yoga teacher, i took a training through them about healing the brain through breath and movement, talking about using certain kinds of movement such as cross referencing by reaching behind grabbing opposite foot with opposite hand (right foot, left hand) for example, with a jump in between. what is interesting is that when i later took a course in curative eurhythmy (it was an intro course, after taking an intro to eurhythmy course), a lot of the processes were very similar.

this is not to say that the brain needs to be healed as in the cases of brain injuries, but rather that the movement can help facilitate pathways in the brain that make things easier to access.
Interesting. I'm willing to research it, learn more about it, and use it as a complementary therapy.

Quote:
Originally Posted by zoebird View Post
so, i do actually think that it works, but with everything, it works best when there is a holistic approach--when it is only one part of the whole equation. for you to then back up that work with tutoring in a specific method outside of school, and whatever the teacher would facilitate in the classroom within the waldorf methods, you might find a holistic approach to his learning that will keep him excited and get him really into reading..
Absolutely. I'm "non-mainstream" enough (whatever that means) to be on MDC, to have practiced AP, had a homebirth, and to be open to exploring other ways of doing things on every level. So I'm truly open (in a way that surprises me, actually!) to various ways of dealing with DS' dyslexia and his education overall. But I wouldn't feel comfortable *only* relying on various techniques of movement, etc.



Quote:
Originally Posted by karne View Post
"Curative eurythmy" doesn't work best as part of a wholistic approach for children with dyslexia, although the best approaches, such as OG include a multi-sensory approach. This is what makes waldorf uniquely needing to be approached with extreme caution when it comes to this area. The best, and most proven, techniques start with actually teaching the child, understanding the complex way the brain works, and understanding true basics such as phonemic awareness. What tends to fall apart is that waldorf teachers are trained via the early 20th century methods of a mystic who dabbled in education, and had some good, and some flawed ideas. But science is very important here, and knowing how to bring the material to children who need it requires a full, and often explicit training in the field of education and special education. And, knowing when to call for help is extremely problematic in the setting of a waldorf school because waldorf is often loath to include, or even acknowledge, the need for straigtforward teaching, or methodologies outside of it's own very rigid pedagogy. One often hears about "not pushing" academics, but there is a vast difference between pushing and teaching.
Yep. Thanks. As I said, I never even *heard* of eurythmy until a few days ago! So I really don't have much of an opinion other than that I would be willing to try it for DS as a complementary/adjunct therapy but not as the only or even main approach to his dyslexia. And if the school seriously proposed that (I don't think they would because they do have a dyslexia protocol posted), the school would then be a "no go" for us.

I do think there's a lot about the brain we don't know and I know that yoga "works" in a lot of ways for me, so it's a new and interesting avenue of research for me to explore for DS' dyslexia.

And, yes, one thing that really freaks me out about this whole thing is that super empirical, researcher, PhD me is seriously considering turning over my DS education to a school founded on the (to me, fairly kooky) ideas of a late 19thc/early 20thc mystic!

Quote:
Originally Posted by karne View Post
There are exceptions-DimitraDaisy consistently posts here with what appears to be interesting and against the grain teaching methods. This is what is needed in order to not end up with kids who can barely read, have suffered through years of "exercises", special diets, copper rods, chants, etc., but still need to be taught the basics.
I'm so glad DD (DimitraDaisy, not Dear Daughter. . .. I just like to abbreviate!) is posting here. It really really helps me to get some input from a Steiner teacher and I'll PM her tomorrow when I know more about the reading assessment. Thanks, DD!

Quote:
Originally Posted by karne View Post
I don't subscribe to the idea that something is wrong with the brain of folks with dyslexia that needs to be "cured". But I do think that a frank and realistic understanding of what dyslexia is, and means in the lifetime of an individual is essential.
Well . . . I sometimes think there *is* something wrong with DH and the in-laws' brains! Seriously, though . . .. no . .. I have no expectation that dyslexia can be cured and that has made me a bit sad as a mom. But, as I've mentioned before, DS has a great example with DH and various in-laws (brother, niece, cousin, etc.) with dyslexia who are doing well on every level and who love to read. So we know it's not a character flaw or something curable. We know we've got to work hard with DS (and, btw, I'm so in awe of my MIL for dealing with all this in the 70s and 80s long before much was known about dyslexia or done about it at schools) and find the best combination of things to help him.

Quote:
Originally Posted by karne View Post
A nice resource is the Eides website, as well as the book Overcoming Dyslexia-lots of good info there.
Thanks! I never heard of this before. Will take a look ASAP.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DimitraDaisy View Post
To the OP: yes, by all means, do send me a PM.
Thank you, thank you. Will do so tomorrow afternoon when I know more.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DimitraDaisy View Post
To everyone else: I am not talking about curative Eurhythmy, I am talking about movement in general, and things with solid research behind them, like traditional SI theory, HANDLE, and Brain Gym, to name the few I am best acquainted with. But as zoebird said, I have observed that a lot of different movement remediation programmes use the same movement patterns. I firmly believe that movement can lay new pathways in the brain. In some cases, in young children, this is enough. In others, it is not. There definitely is one child in my class for whom movement has been hugely beneficial and yet nowhere near enough. She benefits from a structured program with a lot of repetition and very, very small steps forward.
This makes a lot of sense to me. I'm certain it wouldn't be enough for DS' dyslexia, but I see that it could be helpful. Plus, DS, due to his hypermobility, is very clumsy and uncoordinated (though he does a great lotus and freaks out other kids by bending back his fingers all the way . .. uuwwwww.. .. ) so any sort of physical/movement related coaching/training couldn't hurt.

I keep saying this, but I want to repeat how grateful I am to all of you for taking the time to post.

As you all may be able to read in my tone, DH and I are feeling fairly desperate about the social stuff at DS' current school. We are seeing DS' self-confidence dwindle and he's feeling more and more excluded. Plus, the methods of learning just don't seem to resonate with him, despite the fact that he's doing very well in everything other than reading (and, even then, reading comprehension is fine). We desperately want him to be happy, healthy, confident, and proud of the unique person he is. The local Waldorf school *seems* like it *might* be a great solution. But the dyslexia has seemed like a stumbling block, based on what little I knew of Waldorf.

I'm feeling more knowledgeable and have more clarity about the sorts of questions DH and I want to ask when we visit and what we want to look for.

And, please, keep weighing in with suggestions, opinions, and the good, the bad, and the ugly.
post #18 of 39
Oops, bummer I lost the post I had just written – will have to paraphrase, sorry.
My main point was that I think you can take the parts of Steiner ed you like and forget about the rest (e.g. the whole of the rest of anthroposophy if you so wish, even though I know you feel you need to research it in its entirety...). I think this is possible, so long as there isn’t anything in steiner ed itself (i.e one of the many practical applications of anthroposophy) that bothers you too much.
I have lived with Anthroposophy in one way or another all my life (steiner educated, anthro parents) and, although I love to hate that man and his whacky ideas, the more I think about my own child’s development and his education, the more I have to admit to myself that I agree with many of his ideas and I actually love being part of the school we’ve just joined – and I do appreciate the education I received. Immensely. And I appreciate the dedication of the teachers and the beautiful work they did for us. Teaching is an art in itself, and this art can really come to fruition in a Steiner school.
Whichever way you go, I do hope you are able to help your son surmount the bullying issue, that is something no-one should have to put up with, and I hope he’s given some relief soon and is able to get his confidence back.
post #19 of 39
...and yes, I thought I remembered a lot of phonemic awareness work at school (very hazy memory, sorry).
post #20 of 39
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by lyrebird View Post
Oops, bummer I lost the post I had just written – will have to paraphrase, sorry.
My main point was that I think you can take the parts of Steiner ed you like and forget about the rest (e.g. the whole of the rest of anthroposophy if you so wish, even though I know you feel you need to research it in its entirety...). I think this is possible, so long as there isn’t anything in steiner ed itself (i.e one of the many practical applications of anthroposophy) that bothers you too much.
I have lived with Anthroposophy in one way or another all my life (steiner educated, anthro parents) and, although I love to hate that man and his whacky ideas, the more I think about my own child’s development and his education, the more I have to admit to myself that I agree with many of his ideas and I actually love being part of the school we’ve just joined – and I do appreciate the education I received. Immensely. And I appreciate the dedication of the teachers and the beautiful work they did for us. Teaching is an art in itself, and this art can really come to fruition in a Steiner school.
Whichever way you go, I do hope you are able to help your son surmount the bullying issue, that is something no-one should have to put up with, and I hope he’s given some relief soon and is able to get his confidence back.
Thanks for this!

I'm moving towards what you suggest. After all, DS is currently in a Catholic school and I'm not Catholic, wasn't raised a Catholic (in fact, am not Christian nor was I raised a Christian!), and I certainly don't agree with all parts of Catholic theology! However, at DS' current school, I don't feel like they're "overly Catholic" and I can live with the weekly bible stories, the visits to Church for special holidays (Christmas, Easter, etc.), and the general "ethical education" . .. In fact, to be honest, I've thought all these were generally quite good on a cultural level (living in a largely judeo-christian society) and have sparked some interesting conversations at home.

Likewise, although I might not agree with (or believe in) all parts of anthroposophy, I think that (depending on the school itself) we could certainly live with and learn to appreciate a lot of the philosophy and how it's practiced at the school.

We're now waiting to hear back from the Waldorf school about an appointment.
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Waldorf
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Childhood and Beyond › Education › Learning at School › Waldorf › Waldorf education and dyslexia - UPDATE Post #23