our experiences with WaldorfHi, Olivia, and everyone else who happens to be here!
I spent almost six years as a Waldorf school parent, and I strongly encourage anyone considering enrolling a child in a Waldorf school to thoroughly research both Waldorf education and Anthroposophy before doing so.
Waldorf schools promote themselves as being "arts-based," "progressive," "non-sectarian" schools that take into account "the whole child." Unfortunately, in my family's experience (and that of many others with whom I am in regular communication via the 'net), Waldorf is none of these things. It is especially NOT "non-sectarian," as Anthroposophy determines almost everything about Waldorf, from the sing-songy voices the teachers use to what snacks are served on what day to the color of the classroom walls to what stories are told in what grade, and even how teachers react when children quarrel, or have difficulty getting along. (A belief in karma and reincarnation is a basic tenet of Anthroposophy. Former Waldorf parents have told me that this belief in karma -- that a person's past lives determine situations in the present -- caused difficulties for their child at Waldorf, because teachers hesitated or even refused to intervene in bullying situations. The teachers feared that there was "karma at work" between the fighting children, and that by interfering, they would alter the "life lessons" the children had to learn.)
Anthroposophy determines the smallest details of classroom life at Waldorf schools. Most people are unaware -- at least, I was! -- that children in many Waldorf nursery, kindergarten and early elementary grade classes are not allowed to draw or color using black crayons. The reason? In Anthroposophy, the color black is considered spiritually unfit (harmful) for young children who are still in the process of "coming into" their bodies from beyond. Some Waldorf teachers I spoke with called black an "Ahrimanic" color, meaning it is associated with/even imbued with the spirit of the Anthroposophic god called "Ahriman." (This is a very complicated subject. Anthroposophers believe in two forces that are polar opposites: Lucifer, the light bearer, and Ahriman, the dark, earthly force. A very well known former Waldorf teacher trainer and Waldorf teacher named Eugene Schwartz credits Lucifer with being a big inspiration for Waldorf teachers.) Some parents (including me!) feel that this negativity about black carries racist overtones.
Needless to say, this is a complex subject. If you are considering Waldorf, learn about Anthroposophy. They are inextricably intertwined.