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Questions about Waldorf schools...

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
Hi! I'm new here (but not to Mothering Mag) and so glad to have found this forum. We are agonizing over dd's school for next year. I don't really think I'm cut out for homeschooling... I thought Waldorf would be perfect for us because I love the emphasis on natural materials, artistic endeavors, and no media. But after visiting an open house and talking to a friend with kids in a school in another state, I have some concerns...

I'm worried a bit about the reincarnation philosophy and more about the delayed reading- I have no trouble with waiting an extra year to start first grade, but if only the alphabet is taught the first grade year, and reading doesn't begin until second, isn't that the equivelent of not learning to read until THIRD grade in a "normal" school?

What happens if we move or need to change schools? Would dd be hopelessly behind her non-Waldorf peers?

Thanks for sharing your experiences to help me make my decision!
post #2 of 10
I don't know much first hand about Waldorf education; I am much more familiar with Biodynamic Farming -- which is the anthroposophic view of agriculture. It is very spiritual and "out there", but I must say that they raise some great food! Anyway, I've always been interested in Waldorf schools, and like you, am looking for info. I came across this archived dialogue this morning -- which I think you will find to be of extreme interest. After reading this dialogue, it confirmed my suspicions about why Waldorf probably is not right for our family. But it certainly is a personal decision. Good luck!

http://www.mothering.com/discussions.../t-199415.html
post #3 of 10
On the later reading in waldorf schools stuff. My experience of this, as a mother, is that it didn't cause any problems for my daughter. She learned to write in 1st grade and at the end of the year could read a little. In second grade her reading skills solidified nicely and she started reading more complex stuff. I think it was the summer between 2nd and 3rd grade that she began to read seriously. Her first book: The Lord of the Rings. Her grandmother had been reading it to her and she got tired of the slow pace and decided to see if she could read it herself.

She stayed in the waldorf school through 7th grade, spent one semester in public school, switched to home schooling for the rest of 8th and all of 9th and then went to a waldorf high school for 10th-12th. After taking a couple of years off she proceeded to support herself through college, completing an engineering degree. Her older child (almost 5) is in a waldorf nursery and loving it and the younger one (15 months) is participating in her waldorf style home day care.

My take on waldorf, having been a student (two years as a teenager), a parent (13 years) and a staff member: it can be very good, but needs to be checked out carefully from two directions. First you need to find out if the philosophy is compatible with your own and second you need to find out if the school and the teacher are up to speed. Schools and teachers vary a lot. There is a major shortage of waldorf teachers, due the huge expansion of the schools in north america over the last 30 years, so, inevitably, the quality varies a lot.

On the negative stuff that is floating around out there. I find one thing about all this hard to judge. The usual story is of a family who loves waldorf and then discovers the awful truth. My problem is that they are framing themselves as people who totally misunderstood what they were getting into and the nature of waldorf education. Now they are claiming they really understand and they want to share their new "truth." It feels to me like swinging from one extreme to another. If they misunderstood everything completely the first round, what makes them so sure that they have it all figured out this time? Isn't it possible that they are still misunderstanding, just from the opposite side? They are not actually framing themselves as careful, thoughtful or objective at any stage in the process, in my opinion.

Hope all this helps.

Nana
post #4 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by middlearthmama
I'm worried a bit about the reincarnation philosophy and more about the delayed reading- I have no trouble with waiting an extra year to start first grade, but if only the alphabet is taught the first grade year, and reading doesn't begin until second, isn't that the equivelent of not learning to read until THIRD grade in a "normal" school?

What happens if we move or need to change schools? Would dd be hopelessly behind her non-Waldorf peers?
Hi.

None of my three waldorf kids could read until around halfway through second grade, and all three have done just fine. Typically, the waldorf kid is better at math, and behind in reading (until grade three or four), but I know children who have changed schools and many grade levels without big problems.

Likewise, I have not seen any impact from the fact that anthroposophy involves concepts of karma and reincarnation.

Good luck, David
post #5 of 10
I am not at the stage yet with my dd to be deciding on which schools but have certainly started to research different philosophies. I appreciate the Waldord approach. I think that "normal" schools are pushing kids too hard, too fast.

I just want to comment that the responses listed here have been great and helpful. Thanks
post #6 of 10
We are attracted to so many aspects of Waldorf, but for us, anthroposophy was a deal-breaker. After visiting the schools here and talking to some area parents, we realized that it was just too integral a part of the schools, and we weren't comfortable with it.

The best advice I can give is to go to the schools in your area, ask questions, talk to parents.
post #7 of 10
Pre-reading in Waldorf schools actually starts in KG. No, they don't sit down and make them do letters, but many of the small motor skills that they do in kG helps reading later. In 1st grade they learn the letters and the sounds they make and even write. In second grade they work further on reading and many 2nd graders read, some really catch in in 3rd grade. Its not so much that they are "behind" but more that they are learning a different way.

As far as being hopelessly behind, I work at a Waldorf school and I have two step daughters that live with us 50% of the time and 2 children at Waldorf school. Anyway, when children from public school transfer to our school they are behind in: flute, knitting, eurthmy, german, spanish, drawing and math. When Waldorf children transfer to public school (or so I hear, in the 5 years at our school no one has transfered out to public school) they may be behind in reading and have difficulty with tons of busy type homework.


As far as reincarnation, teachers have all different beliefs, just like they do anywhere else but personal reliegion is not taught to the students.

Hope I've been helpful and that you find the best school for your family!
post #8 of 10
i wanted to suggest you look through the actual forum for waldorf and alternative education forum. its the sub forum from this one. you will find many waldorf parents there with lots of info.

they dont teach reincarnation or anthrophsosphy (sp?) to the kids, its just where they are coming from when their thinking about the best way to teach your kid, since they teach kids indiviually. its the equivalant of any teacher in any school having a beleif system. but i dont hear many parents asking public school teachers what thier religion is.
it is good to have a working knowledge of it, but each teacher is different just like each parent is differnt in how they raise their child. i have met waldorf teachers i didnt like and many i have liked and two i have loved.

and you have to be careful about random stuff you "find" on the net about waldorf. alot of it is one sided, and the best way to figure out if it is right for you is to go to the school you would be considering and acually look and talk with the teachers parents and children who go there. also many waldorf schools have their own website with contact info and would be glad to answer questions.

i also have no concern about learning to read "late". the very basic reasoning behind doing it this way, is the beleif that children should be children first. and since learning to read doesnt garentee comprehension of what they read, they first teach love of letters and reading/writing, instead of quick regurgatation.
post #9 of 10

Hi,

Quote:
Originally Posted by canndw
Hi.

None of my three waldorf kids could read until around halfway through second grade, and all three have done just fine. Typically, the waldorf kid is better at math, and behind in reading (until grade three or four), but I know children who have changed schools and many grade levels without big problems.

Likewise, I have not seen any impact from the fact that anthroposophy involves concepts of karma and reincarnation.

Good luck, David
HI,
My oldest is starting school next year and we're planning to send him to a Waldorf inspired school. The teachers are Enki trained. Anyway, reading is taught at the same times as in Waldorf schools. My child happens to read a bit already and I'm wondering if early reading has caused any friction with teachers in Waldorf schools.
post #10 of 10
3under5:

I can't speak for every Waldorf school but at our school we do have some early reders and it has not cause friction with teachers at all. Also, in Waldorf training they train teachers to receive children in love and respect............even early readers!
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