I had a hard time deciding between a Montessori and a Waldorf preschool when my daughters were going to preschool. My dh wanted my dd to have some reading and math "training," so we picked the Montessori. Several months later, after dd had learned absolutely nothing (the Montessori method, at least where we were, was little "work" stations, but not enough teacher supervision to have the kids try all the stations....so dd never even tried the letters area.) Also, at the first parent/teacher conference, the teacher immediately started pointing out dd's deficits (she was four years old!)....I didn't like that approach.
For that and several other reasons, we switched to a Waldorf preschool, and are blessed to have a public Waldorf charter school in our town, where dd now goes to kindergarten.
Wow, I can't say enough great things about this school and these methods! I don't know a whole lot about Steiner, and I don't know what the politics are, controversial or otherwise, with Waldorf, but I sure love the education and love that my daughter is getting at her school. The Montessori school had NO magical play time, NO puppet shows, NO storytelling, pretty much everything that Waldorf is! I really, really like the idea that, rather than getting fed information, the kids at Waldorf are being taught capacities to learn, which they can apply throughout life...it's education from the inside out, rather than from the outside in, which most public schools try to do.
The stuff about fairies and gnomes, well, children are magical creatures themselves...why beat that out of them sooner than necessary? I don't teach my kids that Santa is real...I tell them that he is an idea, that he represents love, etc. They get that, even at four and five years old. They probably feel the same way about fairies. (I still believe in fairies a little bit, too....sure am glad my parents let me!)
The thing I never got from my own education, that I hope my children will gain from Waldorf, is the ability to learn, the learning to love learning.....sadly, that's rare these days....
Anyway, that's my spiel!
Mama to dd 5yo
, dd 4yo
, and ds 15 mos.