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help with DH.. thinks Waldorf school might be boring

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

Our oldest just turned 3, so we're only up to preschool.. but one of the options that we're considering is the local Waldorf school. They have a 3/4 preschool and then continue through grade 8. I have been attending Waldorf parent-tot programs for several years, and love many aspects of the approach. DH is concerned, however, that our DD might be bored there (i.e. too much unstructured time). The other school that we're considering is Reggio-inspired, so quite different in approach. I do like the fact that Waldorf places such a high priority on the development of creative/imaginary play, and feel that Reggio might not be as conducive to that. Then again, the focus on group explorations / group learning in Reggio has some appeal. Can anyone with kids in a Waldorf pre-K/K and/or Reggio program speak to this?

 

Thanks in advance!

post #2 of 9

Simply, what is wrong with being bored? I think it allows them the time to be creative. I feel for the children who are rushed from A to B to C planned out carefully by parents and educators.

post #3 of 9

I second what Melaniee said.  We went through 2 years of parent/tot and i volunteered quite a bit for 2 year in Waldorf kindergarten.  I had NEVER seen a child looking "bored".  The kids ran the gamut of happily busy and vibrant to quietly calm and more solitary ...but never bored.  They where always engaged...minds creating and bodies evolving..exactly what they should be doing.  Modern life is a BOMBARDMENT on the senses of our kiddos.  Our small kids need to play and mimic and blossom... in a simple, beautiful, calm, rhythmic place.  One can see a difference between RHYTHM and STRUCTURE in Waldorf education.   Established rhythms throughout the day, rhythms throughout  the week as well as seasonal rhythms.

 

How does your child do in the parent/tot class?  Is he engaged?  Has your DH observed the class in order to help you both make an informed descision together?

post #4 of 9
Thread Starter 

Thank you both for sharing your thoughts. I completely agree about modern life being a bombardment on the senses of our kids. The thing that appeals to me most about Waldorf early childhood programs is the sense of calm. Many of the other preshcool programs that we toured felt chaotic. Our home is very quiet (no tv, quiet and unstructured toys), and I think that she would be overwhelmed by the noise and activity level at most other preschools, and just wouldn't be able to focus. But that's just my perspective, and I'm trying to understand my husband's. I grew up in a very quiet household (no tv, etc), and my husband did not. He prefers to have the tv or music on when he's working at his laptop, for example, whereas I usually turn my speakers off completely. I feel that what seems boring to him may not be boring at all in the eyes of a 3yo who is (still, thankfully) unaccustomed to constant overstimulation.

post #5 of 9

It has been my experience that Reggio-Emilia is also very big on free-play, unstructured time, open ended toys etc.  There is the idea that teachers are observers and facilitators, not dispensers of knowledge.  RE programs have lots and lots of play and follow the students' lead, as far as, theme, curriculum, explorations etc.  

post #6 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by tbone_kneegrabber View Post

It has been my experience that Reggio-Emilia is also very big on free-play, unstructured time, open ended toys etc.  There is the idea that teachers are observers and facilitators, not dispensers of knowledge.  RE programs have lots and lots of play and follow the students' lead, as far as, theme, curriculum, explorations etc.  


 

This is also our experience. There is also a real focus on bringing beauty to the classroom and working with natural elements. For instance, a walk outside might turn into leaf collecting. If the kids are interested in the leaves it might turn into drawing leaves in small groups or grinding them up to make a paint or stringing them together as decoration. The classrooms start the year with blank walls and then filled up with the gorgeous things the children create. The art is really excellent.

 

They have a group meeting where they discuss the day, work on a small project, and then have a long period of unstructured time. If a group working with wooden blocks wants to build a road across the room it will stay there until it is done. Part of the time might be making a sign "to keep people away" with pictures or letters depending on the age or abilities of the kids.

 

RE approaches holidays very differently from Waldorf. They aren't really celebrated in a formal way unless a parent wants to bring their family's traditions into the classroom. For instance, at Hanukah one of the mothers came in and make latkes with a group for the snack. But if they hadn't volunteered there weren't have been as specific celebration. And this more or less applies to all holidays whereas holidays and festivities of what I think of as the "Waldorf Calendar" are an important part of the Waldorf schools. Birthdays are celebrated however but the parent coming into to read a book the child chooses. And the week before a group of children work for several days making something wonderful and expressive to give the child, based on their likes.

 

I think we are the only family who is truly tv-free. There is a dress code however that requires comfortable clothes and shoes and doesn't allow licensed characters because of the conflict and power struggles they cause. This really minimizes the power of those images and I think it is a wonderful policy.

 

 

post #7 of 9

I also agree with what Melaniee is saying.  As soon as my child says 'I'm bored, can I watch tv?'  I say no and wait like 1 minute and the girl is doing something creative!

Now having said that, we took her out in grade 5 because she felt she needed some academics.    So I think it's wonderful to be at a Waldorf in the younger ages, then get out in about grade 3.  UNLESS you have a teacher that is into academics, we did not.

post #8 of 9

I have to agree with Michele, in that it really depends upon the teacher (or perhaps the school as in who they select to teach). My child is nearly as old as hers and definitely getting an academic education in addition to all the rich 'extras' a Waldorf is providing.  I can't say they would transition seamlessly to a traditional public school, of course, but that's not really my goal, either, and I hope that never changes. Though I have to say that I would think transitioning out in Grades 1, 2 or 3 would still be quite difficult. 

post #9 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by sillysmile View Post

Our oldest just turned 3, so we're only up to preschool.. but one of the options that we're considering is the local Waldorf school. They have a 3/4 preschool and then continue through grade 8. I have been attending Waldorf parent-tot programs for several years, and love many aspects of the approach. DH is concerned, however, that our DD might be bored there (i.e. too much unstructured time). The other school that we're considering is Reggio-inspired, so quite different in approach. I do like the fact that Waldorf places such a high priority on the development of creative/imaginary play, and feel that Reggio might not be as conducive to that. Then again, the focus on group explorations / group learning in Reggio has some appeal. Can anyone with kids in a Waldorf pre-K/K and/or Reggio program speak to this?

 

Thanks in advance!


I honestly know nothing about RE, but three of my kids went to Waldorf. I think it is a bit of a misconception that Waldorf is unstructured. Then is tons of structure! It's just not the same kind as in "regular" school. For instance, in Kindergarten, they aren't working on phonics and math worksheets, but they are sitting around a table painting under the direction of the teacher and they are baking bread and using guided movement to introduce number concepts. Of course they have free play too, but there are different areas for the children to explore and play creatively as they want to at the time. Pre-K may be more free, but they are in an environment conducive to exploration and imagination. The idea is not to let children founder, but to encourage a developmentally appropriate learning experience. Small children need nurturing, not over stimulation, to learn.

All this holds true for the higher grades as well. As children develop, they will have more focus and structure - past 3rd grade, they start doing quite complex work- and there are definitely standards which they are expected to meet developmentally, but again, what that looks like at any given moment may be quite different from "traditional" approaches to education. But the end result is children who actually tend to excel in academics, because they have had a holistic education.

The only caveat I have about Waldorf is that it is not always the best when there are true learning disabilities, in my observation, though it probably helps with some.

 

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