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Wow, I'm totally freaked out about Waldorf now... - Page 8

post #141 of 171
Know that your friends experience may not be what is happening in other waldorf schools. Guess thats why the responses here are so varied.

Being a person of color (Im 1/2 mexican descent) and living in a very small, mostly white town/community......I can expect to find lack of diversity in most of the schools where I live, public and private. Thankfully, the Waldorf school in town is a public-charter school.....so all can attend.
post #142 of 171
In Jan a little boy (age 3.5) joined my dd's mixed kinder, this little boy needed a lot of help. He had been in daycare from 3 months of age (not a Waldorf one). He hit, he bit, he spit, he used foul language (in context), he would curl up his fist before taking a good slug at any of the other children even the 6 yr olds! Do you know that the teachers put so much time and work into this little guy that by June he was a different child. Even my dd would say "x__ has changed so much, I love playing with him now, he doesn't spit at me and he doesn't hit anymore". He still has his moments, but the improvement in this child is amazing! He was dealth with by the entire group of children, the remedial teacher, and the 2 kinder teachers, not cast off as "a promblem". My own dd is looking forward to seeing him again in Sept and helping him everyday, she will be 6 yrs old.

Our Waldorf school is by no means perfect (far from it) but I think we have an absolutely wonderful staff of teachers who really really care about any kid that comes to our school.

There are some parents who really struggle financially to send their kids to our school but it means the world to them that their children have a Waldorf education.

About the Hello Kitty sneakers, my opinion is that the parent should have used better judgement, kept the sneakers for any other time but school time. I've seen children show up with flashing sneaks at our school and get turned right back around and sent home if they don't have other shoes in their cubby. My dd has clothes that are not exactly "Waldorf", they never leave home, if I know its not appropriate, she knows it too, no matter what it cost or if it was a gift from granny or a hand-me-down. Some people send thier kids to these schools specifically because of the policies, so when parent violates (for whatever reason) it needs to be addressed immediately. Just my opinion.
post #143 of 171
I agree with your point about imprefect chidlren...but I would extend that to include almost ALL private schools, not just waldorf. For truly difficult children, many schools with limited resources will try to send them elsewhere. But some choose to really put themselves out for a child. I think it depends a lot on the administrator and the teacher.

As for the shoes...my school was very clear in the handbook from the beginning. If it's truly a matter of money I would have covered over the characters with duct tape or tried to trade them for others. Or looked for handmedowns through the school bulletin board. walmart, target and payless sell character free shoes too, so I don't think you need to spend big money to get "pc shoes". In fact some urban public elementrary schools are getting just as strict and adopting uniforms or dress codes for some of the same reasons. Sure she's outraged...but probably, it was the mom that forgot the rule.
post #144 of 171
In regards to imperfect children: Our school tries to work with children that are imperfect but sometimes the resources are just not there and the children would have more help in a public school. Several kids with dyslexia and other learning difficulties have left for 1 - 2 years to attend special schools for their difficulties. They often come back to our school to finish out middle school. If the problem is behavorial, the teacher works with the child and the family. Ultimately though, if the child is disrupting the whole class and especially if the family is not working to improve the situation, the child will be asked to leave. You may see private schools as wealthy and elite but the budgets are usually very tight so there isn't a lot of resources to help truly difficult children. The majority of the budget goes to salaries, health care, maintenance on buildings and tuition assistance in form of reduced rates or sibling discounts.

In regards to dresscode: We have more problems with dresscode than anything else. Hello Kitty is a great example. Some teachers consider her media and others don't so you get mixed messages. When in doubt, it is better to ask ahead of time. Our biggest problem with the dress code is with the middle schoolers who are pushing the boundaries. I haven't seen any must have clothing items. Many of the families (even the wealthy ones) shop at 2nd hand stores because they believe in reduce, reuse, recycle.
post #145 of 171
Years ago,I went for a pre-school "interview" at a(very pricey) Waldorf school with my oldest son,who was then 4.I was working at the time and took off early for this appt.The person that I was supposed to be meeting with (at a specific time) wasnt even there and they suggested we walk around while we waited.We waited about 45 minutes and then an older kid jumped out of a tree and landed right on my son!He was bruised and scared & crying but thankfully wasnt badly hurt. I was amazed that they were letting these kids climb big trees unsupervised and there was all kinds of other bedlam going on.This man came & told me he would try the person who I was supposed to be meeting with at home and I said:You know what?Lets just forget about it !And I left. My experience with Waldorf was not a positive one - needless to say! Hugs,Catherine
post #146 of 171
i did make the point that it is a lot of private school, not just waldorf that tend to brush off hard kids...just to clarify... anyway, i hope there are more stories out there like cuqui's, but from a post i read on another discussion about waldorf here, someone was praising the fact that a four year old who watched lord of the rings wouldn't be coming back, i can't imagine that she would have been very tolarant towards the little boy i discribed above...i know, for every waldorf school/family, they feel and act different, but lets just say there were plenty of people agreeing that this little boy should go to school elsewhere..plus, i guess we all get to pick our own battles in life, for *me* i just choose to let there be a place for people in mine and my childrens lives even and sometimes especially when they aren't perfect.
post #147 of 171
This is a complicated problem. It is true that private schools often have limited resources for children with learning and behavioral difficulties, so even though they are seen as "rich" it doesn't always work out that way in practice. The waldorf school I worked at had one remedial teacher who was spread very thin.

How far teachers will go to help and work with a child depends on many factors. Are the parents strongly committed to keeping their child in the school? Will they work on the remedial activities on their own time? Can they make changes in the home environment (less or no TV, improved diet, earlier bedtime)? As public school teachers sadly comment, there is a limit to what teachers and schools can do to balance out a difficult home environment.

Many years ago at the WS my daughter attended, there was a mother with a drinking problem who abused one of her children. The school managed to rescue the kid from juvenile hall (that experience was apparently more destructive than the abuse!) find a family to take the child in, arrange for extra tutoring to help overcome some learning difficulties and bring the parents of the rest of the class onboard in being patient with some horrendous behavioral problems. The core of this effort was the class teacher who was determined to help, but was rightly concerned about the potential damage to the rest of the children in her class if she had an out of control child to deal with on a daily basis. I haven't seen this level of commitment from waldorf schools in general nor from other private schools, nor from public schools, nor from child protective services.

Ah well...I should talk. I barely managed to raise my own kid. Of course I was a high school drop out and a 17 year old unwed mother, so the fact that she is an excellent person in spite of me is comforting!
Nana
post #148 of 171
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rhonwyn
In regards to imperfect children: Our school tries to work with children that are imperfect but sometimes the resources are just not there and the children would have more help in a public school. Several kids with dyslexia and other learning difficulties have left for 1 - 2 years to attend special schools for their difficulties. They often come back to our school to finish out middle school. If the problem is behavorial, the teacher works with the child and the family. Ultimately though, if the child is disrupting the whole class and especially if the family is not working to improve the situation, the child will be asked to leave.
I just want to point out that in dewlady's original post, she used scare quotes around the word imperfect. She wasn't actually saying that children with learning disabilities are imperfect, like seconds at a clothing factory.

I believe the saying goes, "Nobody's perfect."

I can't say that reading your post has me falling all over myself to investigate Waldorf.
post #149 of 171
Quote:
but from a post i read on another discussion about waldorf here, someone was praising the fact that a four year old who watched lord of the rings wouldn't be coming back, i can't imagine that she would have been very tolarant towards the little boy i discribed above...
I actually posted about the 4 yr old watching Lord of the Rings, let me clarify, why I was glad he wasn't returning. This boys parents made no effort to adhere to the school's media policy. The boy watched tv throughout the entire school year. If he had only watched, I would not have had a problem, but I was present when he told anther child "let's play Lord of the Rings, and kill everybody", it was the result in his play from watching violent films that I was horrified by. I do not believe his parents ever intended to use the school for more than a yr until he could go to public kinder. So I guess I should rephrase, I'm glad that the family is not returning to the school.

The 3.5 yr old I posted about earlier today, his parents have obviously made many changes at home and the dad has even taken a couple of mornings off from running a very busy business to go hiking and visit a local farm with the class. Apparently he grew up in a big city and has never gone on a hike or petted live farm animals, this is what he told us on the trips. This family is committed to Waldorf, it works for them.

To sum it up, it comes down to the parents and whether or not they truly have the child's best interest in mind. This can be achieved in any school, public or private, given that you have the parents, teacher & school on board.
post #150 of 171
Quote:
About the Hello Kitty sneakers, my opinion is that the parent should have used better judgement, kept the sneakers for any other time but school time.
And what, pray tell, should she have worn to school? There have been times when my children have only had one pair of shoes that fit at a given moment (although they usually have two). For someone who is "struggling financially" as this mother is said to be, being sent that letter could be stressful and humiliating. Even "cheap" sneakers seldom run less than $15 a pair, and a pair that fits your child properly might not be available at all at that price. (BTDT, myself.) So it *is* a subtle form of elitism to ban Hello Kitty sneakers or make the child cover them with tape, as someone else suggested. It sounds like the school didn't attempt to talk the the parents in person before firing off a potentially hurtful letter. It seems as though they just assumed that a parent could procure new shoes at a moment's notice. As for "bad judgement", I wouldn't have thought of Hello Kitty as a media figure. I don't believe there is a Hello Kitty cartoon, is there? Isn't it just a brand, like Nike? Are swooshes considered unacceptable?
post #151 of 171
talk about embarassing, can you imagine how that would make a 3 yr old feel to have to wear duct taped shoes all day, as if that wouldn't draw more attention than smiling kitty cats.

about the "imperfect" thing... i wasn't at all refering to children with learning disabilities, because our culture seems to veiw these issues with a lot more acceptance than what i was referring to. by "imperfect" i was being slightly sarcastic in describing a kid that might not meet the standards that seem to be the expected norm at waldorf and other private schools...

my point that i am trying to *discuss*, because i don't claim that i know all the answers, is should a child that comes from a family that is mainstream or even dysfunctional, have less of a chance to experience good things in life. in trying to make our own kids childhoods perfect are people making an even bigger dividde between races/classes? i mention this because i feel that it is counterproductive to talk about wishing that there was more diversity but than not being willing to accept those diversities when they are there.
post #152 of 171
Quote:
i mention this because i feel that it is counterproductive to talk about wishing that there was more diversity but than not being willing to accept those diversities when they are there.
Good point......but arent we only talking about TV/Movie watching.......and not allowing character clothing? I dont see how that is about diversity. Im thinking about sending my dd to waldorf, but do allow her to watch an hour of PBS in the morning.......and sometimes a video. She's seen Shrek, Nemo....(not LOTR!). So maybe this will be somewhat of an issue for me when I get there......though the thought of eliminating her TV viewing completely, is something I would comply with, or try to.

My friend had her ds attending waldorf charter school in my town this past year. THere was one child who had some serious behavior problems.....was hitting and bullying the other dc's. Every evening, this is all her ds talked about, this boy in his class that got all the attention. She finally pulled her ds out of school.........and right after that, while removing the boy from class, he bit a teacher right thru her clothes and broke the skin. The school told her they were upset about losing her ds......"we're losing the most difficult dc, and the best dc in the class". Now she homeschools.

Bc this school is a charter public school.......all dc's can attend. Its not limited by the money factor. But I dont think all kids are suited for waldorf either. Thats why reading about it and seeing for yourself how that particular school is run is so important, instead of making sweeping judgments about things youve heard or read on the internet. JMHO
post #153 of 171

Excuse me for not using quotes around 'imperfect'.

Quote:
Originally Posted by captain optimism
I just want to point out that in dewlady's original post, she used scare quotes around the word imperfect. She wasn't actually saying that children with learning disabilities are imperfect, like seconds at a clothing factory.

I believe the saying goes, "Nobody's perfect."

I can't say that reading your post has me falling all over myself to investigate Waldorf.

I am not perfect either. The school does its best with its limited resources. It doesn't have the money or the system that public schools have. I think it is very telling that many children who do leave due to difficulites do return after a couple of years. They don't want to go and they can't wait to get back.
post #154 of 171
Some teachers consider Hello Kitty media (she does have cartoon DVD's) just as they consider Barbie, Bratz and Polly Pocket as media characters. Some schools go so far as to eliminate all cartoon looking characters.

In general, all Waldorf schools have some sort of dress code that prohibits media characters (Micky Mouse, Pooh, etc.), often sports teams, cartoon characters, etc. The dress code is understood beforehand. Perhaps in this instance it was a bit harsh to send the letter but it may have been standard procedure at the school. If anything, I have seen our school as being too lax in the enforcement of dresscode. If the dresscode isn't enforced then what is the point? I send my kids to the school so they are not inundated (spelling?) with media. We very, very rarely watch TV. My kids do see some movies in the summer and on school breaks but never on a school night. My kids don't play computer games or game boys. It is what is expected if you go to the school. Why would you send your kid there if you don't support the policy? In this instance, the child was wearing hand me down clothes so perhaps another pair of shoes could have been found. Lord knows our lost and found is regularly overflowing and donated to Good Will.

As an aside, in my child's class there is a boy who is perpetually ripping a hole in the knees of his pants. Ripped or ragged clothes are not allowed. The family is not poor but they are stretched thin with sending 4 children to the school. The boy is of average size and many of the boys in the class are taller so the class has been handing down clothes to this boy and other smaller children in the class. Every little bit helps. We are a cohesive and close community and we are very supportive of each familiy's needs. That is why I love it here!
post #155 of 171
i understand that there are awesome ways for communities to pull together for struggling families, thats the best way, of course, i am just trying to show things from another angle...if people on the top half of society, which is the "norm" among families that can afford private schools, aren't willing to look out for the other 1/2, especially the ones a the bottom, then how can we truly make the world a more peacefull loving place? is it our responsability, or if we just seperate our kids from them enough and shelter them from everything that is not perfect, will those other ones just dissapear? or can we at least rest assured that our children will be different than them.

i think in the end we all want the same thing for our children...caring, understanding, peaceful citizens that can help others, love and see good in others while at the same time being thier true imaginative creative selves, free from the hurtful images of themselves and others brought on by the influence of media.

i guess i am just saying that i think that this should be avalible for all little kids, not just mine... obviouslly i can't save every child, but the ones that cross my path deserve what i can offer. i just try to constantly make sure i am really doing all i can.

here is something i have witnessed at the free school i work at... one day i was watching some of the preschoolers playing in the corner together. my daughter, along with 3 other kids were sitting at a toy picnic table. there is a large supply of wooden blocks and peices of random materiel, (not silk, just scraps) avalable to the kids, all aquired over the years for *free*. the kids had spread a lage peice of fabric over the table and were laying out various shaped wooden blocks on top. they were fully imersed in a grand feast. my immediate thought was, "i sure wish we could afford some of those really cool wooden waldorf toys, they would love them!" but then as i watched i realized something. (the wooden fake food and kitchens are very cool, even if expensive, BTW) i realized that to these kids, it didn't matter at all. there imaginations were ultimitly engaged. it was beautiful to watch the power of imagination at work. then i started to see other examples. there is a large wooden junge gym in the "big room" (also the preschool) of our school. the older kids come in and out of this space throughout the day often stopping to play with the little kids along the way, much to the delight of the preschoolers. over the spring semester this year it became a really fun activity for all to tie up old sheet/peices of fabric like hammoks all over the wooden structure. the big kids were petitioned to tie the fabric and all the kids, 2yrs-8th grade, enjoy the intricate web of swings and hiding spots. all this for free!

maybe kids use even more imagination when they have to.. it can be beautiful.

i'm not saying everone else shuold do it the way we do, but i have to argue that each school uses it's resources the way they choose, i am only trying to portray another way.
post #156 of 171
Quote:
Originally Posted by luv my 2 sweeties
... So it *is* a subtle form of elitism to ban Hello Kitty sneakers or make the child cover them with tape, as someone else suggested...
I don't think it is a subtle form of elitism that Waldorf promotes. I think it's right out there in the open. From the approved toys to the tuition to the dress code, I think Waldorf wears its elitism right on it's sleeve. But it does it under the guise of "natural" learning, so it often seems to be an elitism that parents who would normally avoid private schools can feel comfortable with.

Add that to the fact that so many Waldorf schools are not completely open about the influcence that anthroposophy has had on shaping the Walforf philosophy and you have, in a nutshell, my objections to Waldorf.
post #157 of 171
Quote:
Originally Posted by pugmadmama
I think Waldorf wears its elitism right on it's sleeve. But it does it under the guise of "natural" learning, so it often seems to be an elitism that parents who would normally avoid private schools can feel comfortable with.
Yeah, I would fall into that category, and I'm starting to question it more and more. As Ds gets older and I think needs less "protecting" from the world, I feel quite odd about him being in that elitist, closed world of Waldorf. Just the selection process for the playgroup (3-4 yrs) turns me off big time. We have friends who's daughter goes there, who are fantastic parents, extremely conscientious, and the dad is a big believer in Steiner. Still they barely scraped through a second interview because they let their daughter watch one half hr video (carefully selected) a day. And I know for sure our neighbor's son won't get in because he watches TV constantly, but his mom has chronic fatigue syndrome, dad is out supporting family, and this is a kid that could really use the waldorf environment to give him extra support due to his mom's illness. But he won't match up to what they're looking for, no way. How do I explain that to DS, down the line? "A**** can't go to your school because they don't want him"???
post #158 of 171
Totally not trying to start a debate here....but I don't get how not wanting the children to wear character clothes (ie Hello Kitty) and not watching television is elitist. It is a philosophy about childhood and parenting...how they don't want their children exposed to commercialism and media. Waldorf isn't saying "we don't accept you" or "you aren't good enough" it's that they have a policy on media and commercialism and ask that parents follow this. It isn't for everyone, but I don't think it is elitist on that basis.

I guess I don't understand how this is any different than say for example, AP. Is it elitist to co-sleep, cloth diaper, etc. and want to find other moms who practice your similar beliefs? Are we elitists because we frown upon those who CIO?
post #159 of 171

Many Waldorf Schools don't have the fancy Waldorf toys you see in catalogs.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dewlady
here is something i have witnessed at the free school i work at... one day i was watching some of the preschoolers playing in the corner together. my daughter, along with 3 other kids were sitting at a toy picnic table. there is a large supply of wooden blocks and peices of random materiel, (not silk, just scraps) avalable to the kids, all aquired over the years for *free*. the kids had spread a lage peice of fabric over the table and were laying out various shaped wooden blocks on top. they were fully imersed in a grand feast. my immediate thought was, "i sure wish we could afford some of those really cool wooden waldorf toys, they would love them!" but then as i watched i realized something. (the wooden fake food and kitchens are very cool, even if expensive, BTW) i realized that to these kids, it didn't matter at all. there imaginations were ultimitly engaged. it was beautiful to watch the power of imagination at work. then i started to see other examples. there is a large wooden junge gym in the "big room" (also the preschool) of our school. the older kids come in and out of this space throughout the day often stopping to play with the little kids along the way, much to the delight of the preschoolers. over the spring semester this year it became a really fun activity for all to tie up old sheet/peices of fabric like hammoks all over the wooden structure. the big kids were petitioned to tie the fabric and all the kids, 2yrs-8th grade, enjoy the intricate web of swings and hiding spots. all this for free!

maybe kids use even more imagination when they have to.. it can be beautiful.

i'm not saying everone else shuold do it the way we do, but i have to argue that each school uses it's resources the way they choose, i am only trying to portray another way.
I think you would be pleasantly surprised to see how simple the toys are in the Kindergartens. In my children's kindergarten, most of the toys were found at second hand stores (dishes, etc.), made by parents (capes, cradle, tree blocks, felted fruit, felted dolls, Waldorf baby dolls in many skin tones) or donated by parents (wooden kitchen, trestles, etc.). Everything is well loved and used. Most of the fancy wooden toys you see in catalogs are bought by parents for their homes. The schools prefer to have things made by the community. The children in the Kindergarten often play as you have described above. Trestles become houses, stores, planes, pirate ships, castles, etc. Horse chestnuts (buckeyes) and acorns are used as currency and pretend fruit.

I think you have found a wonderful school. It seems to have many Waldorf elements in its simplicity of toys and the natural materials used.
post #160 of 171

No offense pugmadmama but I don't think you know what you are talking about.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pugmadmama
I don't think it is a subtle form of elitism that Waldorf promotes. I think it's right out there in the open. From the approved toys to the tuition to the dress code, I think Waldorf wears its elitism right on it's sleeve. But it does it under the guise of "natural" learning, so it often seems to be an elitism that parents who would normally avoid private schools can feel comfortable with.

Add that to the fact that so many Waldorf schools are not completely open about the influcence that anthroposophy has had on shaping the Walforf philosophy and you have, in a nutshell, my objections to Waldorf.
What you see as elitism, I see as reality. It costs money to run a school. Our teachers earn a decent salary that is less than public school teachers that takes up a large part of tuition. Our teachers receive health care which also takes up a large part of tuition. We have to pay for our buildings and maintenance. Materials for the classrooms cost more than regular Walmart materials because they are usually natural materials (beeswax crayons) and organic. Every year we struggle with the budget. A large part of the budget goes to lowering the tuition for families with multiple children and for lower income families. It is a financial sacrafice for many of the families that attend our school. Tuition for us is a second mortgage. We don't own fancy cars or vacation homes, we don't go on fancy vactions, and we both work to pay tuition. Our school has a very good financial diversity in the families who attend. Some are wealthy and some are downright poor. The wealthy may not sacrafice as much but they are supporting the poorer families by paying higher tuition and by donating large sums of money to the operating budget and the capital budget.

All private schools and many public schools have approved toys, dresscodes and culture. Montessori schools have their special toys for learning. Catholic schools have uniforms as do many public schools now. If you don't like the culture or the rules, you are free to go elsewhere. For our family, the culture at Waldorf with the emphasis on letting kids be kids, natural toys, no media, organic food, choice on vaccination, recognizing the spiritual in the child without being overly religious suits our family.
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