I fell in love with Waldorf after teaching some students in my children's Aikido class. But a visit to a Waldorf kindergarten when dd1 was 4yo reminded me just how much of an unschooler I was. It was beautiful, gentle, but it was still school. I haven't looked back since.
We have a wonderful Waldorf school very close by - great community, beautiful classrooms filled with childhood wonder and natural objects. I love so many things about the Waldorf approach (emphasis on folk tales, myths, music, nature, the arts, etc.) but...it's still school. There are still desks lined up and a teacher choosing what everyone does and when and how. I also found myself chaffing at the whole delayed reading idea - I liked the idea of delayed academics and the flexibility it gave kids who weren't interested, but I wanted to learn to read at 3 - what if DS is like me? I didn't want him put off. I want him to be able to learn about anything he wants, however he wants, whenever he wants. I want him to be able to capitalize on that enthusiasm immediately - like catching lightning in a bottle.
I did very well in school, but I was constantly binging and purging knowledge - cram for test, dump it out when done. Plus, I want DS to have more confidence in himself than I did - I was always held back by looking to authorities to tell me what to learn and when, what career to pursue and why, etc. I also longed to be able to pursue my own interests for hours at a time - not have to drop everything at the sound of a scheduled bell. DH remembers being quite bored, and having alot of wasted downtime in school.
Exactly! At that cost, I would have to work at least part-time just to pay to send him to a school that would try to be as close to a home as possible...huh??? It didn't make sense. At home, we will have so much more flexibility (in what we study, how, when...for activities, experiences, travel, etc.), can be as Waldorf-y (or not) as we wish, and have an excellent teacher-to-student ratio.
I think this one is a really socially-ingrained thing to try to kick out of our heads. We are so used to the school model of socialization, but it's really odd and artificial. When in the rest of your life are you only lumped in with people your exact same age? Never! It's really bizarre, limiting and (IMO) damaging for kids. They get such a small slice of perspective from their same-age peers, along with all the worst nastiness of each developmental age (peer pressure, bullying, etc.) concentrated and multiplied all around them. They don't learn how to socialize with anyone else who isn't their age (in fact, they learn that those in the grade below them are "babies" ripe for picking on, those above them are bullies to be feared - even if your kid is a sweetheart, it's still not socially acceptable to be friends across grade lines until at least high school...). They lose out on opportunities to learn social graces from older kids, or better role models in how to behave toward younger ones. They can get this at home, but when it's contradicted at school for hours every day...
Anyway, just something to think about. There are alot of homeschool groups out there you can join - and kids make lots of friends at the park, through activities, etc. I'm not too worried about that part.
To answer, we started thinking about it recently, as we were looking into preschools, and that's when we decided. I'm very much drawn to an unschooling approach, which is what we plan to do. Reading John Holt, as well as Mary Griffith's The Unschooling Handbook (and Salvatore Vascellaro's Out of the Classroom and Into the World - though it's not technically geared to unschooling), really just solidified my gut instinct on this. It will allow our family so much more flexibility to not have "pull kids out of school" or rush them there, or have tense parent-teacher conferences, or remember to sign papers, etc. - all the bureaucratic craziness! And watching him grow this past year has really driven home for me the idea that kids can learn *ANYTHING* naturally, on their own (with a lil love and support from parent facilitators).
The world is such a beautiful, vivid, interesting place - how could I limit his education to a sterile, age-segregated classroom, when he could have the whole universe, all of creation, all of humanity?