i decided to remove my original post. it is hard not to be misunderstood in this context.
thank you all for your feedback, nonetheless.
Edited by Binx67 - 1/31/13 at 7:13pm
"monster?". Really? This is very confusing. If the child is truly abusive, why would your child play with him. My kid runs away form bullies.
Perhaps your child has an amazing heart that allows him to see something good and light in this other kid.
If the class is really so bad , I do not understand why the principal is not doing something about it.
It sounds to me like this 'monster' really needs Waldorf and the support of the community. It also sounds like the school has committed themselves to the education and well-being of this child. I understand setting boundaries, but I do not think ostracizing this child- And he/she IS a child, and a young one at that- too young imo to be banished or given up on- is the answer.
I understand the desire to protect your child from harsh, 'outside' elements, especially when you have worked so hard to cultivate a gentle environment in line with your values. We all see our Waldorf schools as a sanctuary, a place where our little ones and their childhoods are honored and protected, where we can drop them off and feel at peace. The parents of this child want the same for their little one. Obviously you feel this refuge has been 'breached', and you send your child in worry. Only you can decide if it is truly bad enough to warrant pulling your child.
I will add that the behaviors you described are going to be found most everywhere. Would you rather your child encounter them outside in the 'real' world, or in your Waldorf school?
this is another reason why I waldorf homeschool... the reality is that situations like this will arise in an social setting for young children and you unfortunately have been put in a position where you have to deal with this without the help of the school.
I'm going to have to take a slightly different view from the other posters here.
From your post, it does not appear that the teacher has a concrete way forward on addressing the outstanding issues.
In addition, rather than arranging a situation where you, the other mother and the teacher could address concerns together, she shoved you off to handle raising your concerns with the other parent alone. Rather than creating a situation where you are all working collaboratively, it sounds as if the teacher is leaving you out to swing alone.
To me, this indicates a clear lack of leadership from the teacher and the principal whose first responsibility it is to ensure the safety and well-being of your child and the other children in the class. Without that leadership in the classroom, I believe there is no way forward -- nothing that you as a parent can do alone to "solve" the issue. In light of that lack of leadership, I would be investigating other school options immediately. While "these sort of things" may happen in other schools as well, there are schools that will actually take action to address and work to correct the issues at hand.
Further, in my experience, the average Waldorf school is NOT well equipped (or really equipped at all) to handle children with special needs. Depending on your school, it may not have even the most basic toolkit to address these children's needs effectively. This, together with the school's leadership issues, makes the chance of improvement bleak to my mind.
I really feel for you, mama. Here are some thoughts . . .
A one-teacher classroom is not really adequate to simultaneously a) artistically and thoroughly deliver a curriculum to a class while b) dividing their attention in dealing with the outbursts from emotionally disturbed children or serving the specific needs of others with special needs who often times interrupt said lesson. And yet, sadly, I believe those children especially would benefit from a Waldorf education.
I am also noticing that therapists are recommending Waldorf education specifically to their clients as a sort of "therapy" in and of itself. So you have parents who are not truly on board with the Waldorf philosophy signing their kiddos up in an effort to help them. This presents a problem because those children introduce many themes into the classroom that parents who faithfully subscribe to the Waldorf philosophy wanted to protect their children from by sending them to a Waldorf school in the first place.
All of this is compounded by small class size where often time Waldorf "purists" (for lack of a better term) are in the distinct minority at a Waldorf school.
What to do now?
Conflict-resolution is not a strength of Waldorf schools. (You can read many a board to find that one out). The teacher is commander-in-chief and often times there is no principal to resolve issues. Solutions you might offer include asking the school to provide an aid. But if money is short, suggest a weekly rotating SAHP volunteer to help out during Main Lesson and recess. OR I have even heard of schools where kids in similar situations were only admitted if the parents agreed to send an "aid" along to help manage the child's needs, at their own expense.
If all else fails, search for other schools or homeschool with a Waldorf curriculum.
Ultimately, you have to ask yourself, how much learning is going on, and what kind. With my own child, First Grade was difficult. He came home super-stressed and angry. At first, I thought it was just the adjustment to grades, and I also wanted him to develop resilience, so I supported him the best I could. Later, the stress of his classroom experience compounded, it didn't get better - it got worse. He grew paler and weaker and it seemed as if his life-force was fading. (Sounds dramatic when I write it, but that's the only way to describe it). Ironically, my Waldorf child's needs were not being met in the Waldorf class.
We decided to pull him from school. This was heartbreaking as I am such a supporter of the Waldorf curriculum, and there was some amount of grieving involved. But, since being home, he got his sparkle back. He is back to the boy I know. Homeschooling is not easy since both my DH and I work, but it is a lot less stressful than watching your child sink.
Good luck, mama.
I was a sensitive, happy, very friendly child. My grandmother lived with us, my aunt and uncle and cousin were a few houses down and my other grandparents were next door. More uncles and aunts and cousins were down the road. I remember going to bed feeling happy. We didn't have a lot of money, but we had lots of love and togetherness. It wasn't Waldorf, but it was a good childhood.
My parents worked a lot, and my sister was much older, so I was pretty much on my own after school. My "best" friend was a very mean little girl who was a bad influence, though I didn't realize it until I was an adult. We stayed together even when she was mean...best friends for a good 10 years. She even was physically abusive at times. I still turned out to be OK even with this bad influence being a huge part of my life.
People are usually loyal to their family and learn right from wrong based on what they learn at home. As long as you give your daughter a solid foundation at home, she will be OK around people who aren't nice. She will not turn into them.
I noticed some things about my friend's family that makes me think perhaps that foundation wasn't there in her home. My friend and her mom would always gang up on one of her sisters. They were mean to her and as a result she would always cry and get angry and lash out at them. The mom would also say mean and inappropriate things about people (even her "best" friend) and my friend would repeat them.
I understand your concern and I have felt the same exact way as a parent at times over the years.
I have also been on the other side of the fence. My son had developmental delays. His behavior really deteriorated at one point, and we were actually asked to leave a pre-k...luckily he was accepted into the ESE pre-k program around the same time. He transitioned into a "typical" classroom the year before kindergarten, where his behavior kept improving. He was then accepted to a magnet school in kindergarten. He is now in 4th grade, getting good grades, and is well liked by his teachers and peers.
My sister told me that her girls always had one or two boys in each class that were a major problem. They would get physical at times and didn't play nice...and her girls were afraid of them. Looking back, there was a boy in my elementary school who was like that too. I never thought I would be the parent of "that boy". Those were some tough times for us. It really made me feel like a failure at times, and I worried about him so much.
I am curious as to how they handled the tooth knocking out incident. When my son was in kindergarten, I was called to the school because his friends were rough housing on the playground and he thought one of the boys was being hurt so he punched the "attacker" in the face, knocking out his first baby tooth :(. When the other boys were questioned, they said no one was getting hurt...even the kid who was on the bottom. They made my son out to be the only aggressor. There is a chance that my son misunderstood what was going on and was indeed the only aggressor, but I wonder to this day if he was a little hero instead. He was sent home for a three day suspension. The other parents never brought it up. Interestingly, their son has had another incident with fighting involving suspension. My son has since stayed out of trouble!
TCMoulton -- I feel that you are being unhelpful. The OP has shown far, far more patience with the situation than I would -- my child would be out of the school at this point. I experienced a toxic classroom for several years as a child and its effects should not be underestimated.
OP -- has the school provided any information about plans for addressing the issues? Is the teacher being effective about keeping your child and the other one separate? Is the teacher willing to intervene with the other parent and make clear that she should not be addressing your child without your permission?
We recently pulled our two children out of a small private school (not Waldorf, but a progressive school) because of some similar issues. The school was becoming increasingly concentrated with special needs children and children with behavior disorders, but no one on the school staff had ANY training or expertise in working with children with these issues. Several children at the school have been seriously hurt, and while our kids hadn't been hurt yet, we felt foolish leaving them there.
There was no standard of behavior that was required of ALL students, and no discipline plan. Children who hurt others were seen as needing to be kept at the school so they could be "helped," though no one had a plan for helping them.
We are finding that the behavior required by children at public school is higher. We tired of paying for our children to be in school with the children who couldn't cut it at public school.
Taking special needs children and putting them into private schools with NO support for them fails those students as well as the other students around them.
Our experience was that advocating for our children and going to the board did no good. Private schools can do whatever they want, and if parents don't like it, they can leave. That's the only real option.
"yet, even steiner himself used the word "demon" in describing some children born without an "I", knowing it would be unpopular."
One of the many reasons that I feel anyone who recommends Waldorf for special needs children has not adequately investigated the philosophy and how Waldorf schools work.