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Looking for your waldorf experiences (for questioners) - Page 2

post #21 of 51
My dd is 5 months but in my ideal world (as of now) she would attend Waldorf from parent/ toddler up to the end of 3rd grade... then enter a much more academic school that starts at 4th grade (no lower grades there).

The school that begins in 4th grade is challenging and still has a huge arts component.... is that an okay time to transition from Waldorf to mainstream or will my dd be terribly behind at that point?
post #22 of 51
Let me just say a couple of things to what you have said LoveOhm.

Regarding eating meat, most of us in my school ate meat. The minority was vegetarian!
Watching TV,... well you should not mention it really at school, we watched TV as well when I was a bit older, but my parents made sure it was nature programs and educational, limited to one hour maybe an hour and a half a day. If you as adults watch a movie that does not concern the school. The main idea is that the child does not, so his/her imagination and innocents does not get spoiled by media, violence etc. the school does not want any TV talk in the schools either, but most of us were discussing various programs during school break, once we were teenagers.
The important part is that a small child should steer away from TV, as to keep his/ her natural inquisitiveness and be surrounded by "real" things instead of fabricated things on a screen that are impossible to be directly experienced, grasped and therefore lack the real learning and exploring value.

About my comment regarding the reading at an early age, I think as you have the choice of three schools near you, you could ask them how they would deal with the situation if your child would be able to read at an early age and see what their response is. You could teach her reading at home earlier, if she wants to learn it.
Make your decision depending on their responsiveness to new things and circumstances.
post #23 of 51
Thanks so much or your input it helps us new moms!

TV is very limited in my home in general... so it is not a huge deal. We don't have cable but we do go to movies occasionally and we plan to have a movie night / game night each week with family friendly movies since my SO works in the film industry. I would hate my dd to not see ANY disney films...LOL!

I do plan to start her reading at an early age... even if incidentally I am a writer so I read a ton and she will be exposed to that. I feel you had a great idea on how to ask about reading between the schools.

Any thoughts about insider vs. outsider from school to school... maybe some sign to look for?
post #24 of 51
Hello again,

Regarding "insider" versus "outsider" problems, to be honest you will most likely not have them personally, unless you get into hughe discussions about anthroposophy with some of the teachers and why public schools are doing this and that better.
It is expected that they are very much into anthroposophy and Steiner's philosophy, otherwise they would not love their job and therefore would not do it good, which is unaceptable in Waldorf schools. That, I think, all of the schools have in common, the teachers have to love their job otherwise they would not be dedicated to their work and Waldorf schools only want dedicated people as their staff.
Some teachers are more into the phiolosophy others less and that varies from school to school as well naturally. Personally I would not worry about this aspect regarding your childs education! I would rather be worried if my kids teachers were not dedicated.

Now if you mean "insider" versus "outsider" regarding changing from Waldorf into public schools at an early age, your child will have more of a problem, as she will be taken out of a warm peacful surrounding at a Waldorf school and be put into a competetive, colder and more demanding environment of the public school system. Once your child is older she should have it easier, if she is not a shy person, as she will be able to cope with the differences more easily.
These are at least the experiences I have had when I went ino public school for a couple of years.
post #25 of 51
There are several possible "insider/outsider" dynamics possible in any community or group. Some of what I've seen at waldorf schools:

Volunteer activities--particularly prone to insider/outsider situations, with one group of people accumulating all the know-how and hence all the control--simple solution is to require documentation of all fund-raising and volunteer activities in loose-leaf binders, kept in a central location. This also saves a school from losing essential information when a parent suddenly departs.

Teachers--should have a strong connection, but this can go wrong in at least three ways: 1)teachers vs parents and 2)teachers vs new teachers and 3)teachers vs board. I've never been a teacher, so I'm not sure if there is any easy way out of this type of problem. Best approach is probably simply for someone to name the situation, so it can be discussed.

Parent cliques--don't think I need to describe this one--best solution is a variety of activities for parents that include a strong element of mixing, so new parents can meet and connect with the older parents--plus a strong stand against outward dogmatism. We can't control what people think (and shouldn't) but certain behaviors should be frowned on, first and foremost should be a stand against being judgemental of people's private lives (food, TV, where they give birth, how long they nurse their babies and all that sort of stuff). School communities can only discuss family home life with parents when it comes into the classroom and interferes with the health of the class or the school. At worst, this sort of judgement becomes nasty gossip: disastrous for community life.
post #26 of 51
I went to waldorf schools for 12 years when I was a child (age 3 through eighth grade) at four different waldorf schools, and my experience was absolutely positive. All the schools were warm and nurturing at the same time that they were challenging academically. They certainly taught me everything I needed to know for high school and college, and in addition I learned to knit, sew, work with wood, garden, do eurythmy (the modern-ish kind of dance), etc.

I never knew much at all about anthroposophy when I was a child, but because my mom is now a waldorf grades teacher, I have learned more recently. Some of it makes sense to me, some of it seems absolutely ridiculous, and most of it doesn't seem to me to have any strong relation with what I experienced at school.
post #27 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by LoveOhm View Post
...the one biggie is the "insider vs. outsider problems". My daughter is African American so she will be one of only a handful in any private school to be honest already so I don't wat to add additional potential stress to her by us being the only ones that eat meat and watch a Friday night movie. That said, we are lucjy and have 2-3 Waldorf schools relativly near so how I can tell which of them doesn't have that particular issue....? How does one pick between 3 different Waldorf schools?
The "quick" and not-terribly-helpful answer is to visit all three, ask a bunch of questions, and go where you fit the best, all things considered. What a problem to have -- three waldorf school to choose from!

Vegetarianism is definitely not part-and-parcel with anthroposophy and waldorf; I wouldn't worry about that at all.

The media question also varies a fair amount between schools. Some schools require families to actually sign a pledge, others just provide general guidelines. I guess only by meeting families and asking around can you know.

Other questions about inclusiveness can be observed based on the degree of participation evident around the school and the level of "parking lot gossip" -- there is always some, and some will do it a lot, but differences among schools might be worth noticing.

This is something where I think time around the schools (quality and quantity time, at both formal and social events) would be most helpful.

David
post #28 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by LoveOhm View Post
...in my ideal world (as of now) she would attend Waldorf from parent/ toddler up to the end of 3rd grade... then enter a much more academic school that starts at 4th grade (no lower grades there).

The school that begins in 4th grade is challenging and still has a huge arts component.... is that an okay time to transition from Waldorf to mainstream or will my dd be terribly behind at that point?
Well, you're asking the wrong person when the "right time" to leave waldorf is, but I have known children who left at all grades and did just fine. If you have a particular plan to leave after a certain grade, you should make sure you know what the new school will expect so that you can prep for the (inevitable) entrance test, hopefully without ruining the child's waldorf experience.

Leaving after third grade, at my school, means the child would not have real experience with daily homework, which might be quite a shock going to a heavy academic school.

David
post #29 of 51
My daughter went from a waldorf school in California to a public school in Missouri between 7th and 8th grade. The public school wasn't very demanding, but I suspect she would have been more challenged by a public school in California. Rural Missouri, in the 70s, did not have a demanding educational culture. Anyway, she was bored so after one semester we went to home schooling, and after 1 1/2 years of that, she was bored again, so we shopped around and she asked to go to the Toronto Waldorf School for her remaining 3 years of high school. That was seriously challenging and she had an excellent time.

I agree with David, children can move out of waldorf at any point if the parents are prepared to bridge over to whatever is expected in the new school. I think it can be more challenging, actually, for a child to come into a waldorf school after years of other sorts of education. Waldorf expects a whole different skill set, and they aren't skills that most parents can teach their kids unless they happen to be artists or waldorf teachers
post #30 of 51
We had several schools to pick from also. We interviewed in two. My husband was more confident with the teachers at the one we chose. I liked everybody-: ---but I saw my son respond just a little more to one than the other. I didn't really feel this as such a weighty decision because I was more than ready to pull my son out if it wasn't working well. And here we are still 15 years later.

I can honestly say after all these years there's only a handful of parents I've ever talked with that later thought it was a mistake to choose the school, though I'm still in contact with many, many who left for various reasons. Families tend to stay while it is good for their child or circumstances, and move on when it isn't or if circumstances change. But that's my real life--on the internet is where I've heard the conflicts people have had from elsewhere.

My "Waldorf full disclosure" would look like this:

1. Each school is different (yeah it's almost a Waldorf mantra) but so is each class. There is definitely a distinct personality of each class based on who the teacher is, who the children are, and who the parents are.

2. Each child is a unique individual. And each student is unique. So warning--contrary to that well-worn rumor that "every student's work looks just like the next"? Not at all so. Some students' work looks like it should be published in a book. Other students' work looks like they hurried through it because their minds were elsewhere, and some reflects the reality that not all of us are gifted expressing ourselves and what we know on paper. And parents ooh-and-ahh and go Wow! when they see the body of work done by other students besides their own because It is Not All the Same. Everyone's work is very different, and as others have described, it is manifested more and more as the students progress in the grades.

3. Parents are parents--even in Waldorf schools. Odds are they will be the most judgmental individuals you encounter in a Waldorf school--not Waldorf teachers. You know the psst-psst-psst parking lot one-upsmanship etcetera. In a Waldorf school it might have a Waldorfy flavored theme to the psst-psst-psst but otherwise, but in every other respect, it's the same old same old.

4. Uhh---Waldorf parents are given much to do.......coincidentally, that's why I'm cutting off here because I have something else I have to do
post #31 of 51
I had the same concerns last year before enrolling my son in Waldorf preschool. After lots of research and talking with the school/teachers, I decided to give it a try.

I don't know if our school is just different, but I just have not seen one bit of the creepy Anthro stuff at all. All of the families are very involved, have similar AP philosophy to mine, and most everyone I meet (teachers included) are there, and have their children there because they want a beautiful, gentle education ... after one year of looking very close, I just have not seen it at all.

That said, I don't think we are going to continue beyond preschool. It has nothing to do with anything creepy, but I will be honest here. I don't feel the education is up to par with what my son needs. He's already bored of pretending and playing outside, he wants to learn to read and is asking me. They tell the same story for an entire month .. it's usually a long, beautiful story and it takes many of the kids an entire month to learn it all .. but my son learns it in the first week or so and by the end of the month is bored to tears with it. I observed the first grade where they were learning about the letter A, drawing it, making the sound and dancing .. and all I could think was that my 4 year old could do that, plus every other letter already .. he would be really bored.

So I think the timeline for learning is not on par for us. If I had a kid that was not so verbal and nearly reading already, it might be ok. But I don't think it's right for my child, so I'm going to put him in a more traditional program.

I still believe Waldorf is beautiful, at least our school. I can't think of a better place for him to have experienced school for the first time .. the teachers are so warm, loving and supportive. It made for a very easy transition for a child who's never been away from home, and can be quite spirited. I can't say a single bad thing about our preschool experience, I just don't think my son is going to be happy not reading until he's much older.
post #32 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by calynde View Post
I'm an American living in Europe and I worked for a while at a Waldorf School here. I would say that generally speaking, the whole approach to Steiner education here is much less strict and dogmatic and much more "normal" and acceptable. The schools are everywhere and nobody would think twice if you told them your child attended the steiner school. The parents may or may not be vegetarian or anthroposophists and may or may not have a tv etc. Interestingly, a lot of the aspects that Americans consider "Waldorf" (like natural materials, gnomes, wax crayons, no or little tv or media, seasonal focus, wooden toys etc) are actually "European" traditions, and are certainly not limited to the Waldorf crowd. All the festivals that American Waldorf families celebrate are European ones...they are a normal part of the yearly cycle here...for everyone. So I think the divide between who is "Waldorf" and who isn't is often much much smaller on this side of the pond.

Also, no family at the school would identify themselves as "Waldorf", as in "We're into the Waldorf/steiner approach" or whatever. It's not a label here. When I read what so many moms post in various waldorf forums i'm in, I feel like they have adopted it much as a sort of religion...or have added it onto their religion...and just generally take it much more seriously. And also, americans in general have made it much more about material things...all these expensive wooden toys and fancy silks (here most people use old towels or cotton gauze) and gnome tree houses. The vast majority of that stuff here would be homemade with stuff gathered at the forest...ya know? Some of the simple spirit seems to have gotten a bit lost in the US...
but all that stuff IS lovely to look at!

So it seems to me there can be plenty of the same things attached to Waldorf in the US that most people who are drawn to it are looking to avoid...but really, it depends totally on the particular school and it's particular staff. One can be so very different from another! And of course, these are only my personal thoughts and experiences.

good luck!

Yes!! It is very much like this among Waldorf families I know. I really understand the desire for all the neat wooden/natural stuff, but would much rather come up with my own version than spend a ton of money. I think a lot of Waldorf around here is really capitalized upon, and I am markedly against supporting that.

To the OP, I love the holistic approach, but as one poster responded, it is limited in its scope where children with special needs or differing learning styles are concerned. The tendency in my local WE schools is to "hold back" students who don't seem "ready" according to the anthroposophical doctors they are asked to be seen by. This is a dangerous trend, IME as a ps teacher. And it is a direct result of the rigidity that has been alluded to as well. If my son wants to paint his gnome green and not blue, then he shall .

Keep digging, visit your school, try to meet other WE families. I would also say to seek out a hs/us group, as many may use the WE approach at home.

Good luck!
post #33 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by mistymama View Post

That said, I don't think we are going to continue beyond preschool. It has nothing to do with anything creepy, but I will be honest here. I don't feel the education is up to par with what my son needs. He's already bored of pretending and playing outside, he wants to learn to read and is asking me. They tell the same story for an entire month .. it's usually a long, beautiful story and it takes many of the kids an entire month to learn it all .. but my son learns it in the first week or so and by the end of the month is bored to tears with it. I observed the first grade where they were learning about the letter A, drawing it, making the sound and dancing .. and all I could think was that my 4 year old could do that, plus every other letter already .. he would be really bored.

.

Yes, an educated, enlightened decision. It is really not a good fit for learners like your ds. Mine would suffer the same boredom. It is a beautiful idea, great lessons, wonderful units, etc., but definitely a bit too slow and drawn out for my kids.
post #34 of 51
This thread has been a great wealth of information! I wish it would have been around a few months ago but even after reading your stories I am still happy with what our family is deciding and that is to hs using a Waldorf curriculum.

I just want to say thank you all for sharing your stories.
post #35 of 51
"Also, no family at the school would identify themselves as "Waldorf", as in "We're into the Waldorf/steiner approach" or whatever. It's not a label here. When I read what so many moms post in various waldorf forums i'm in, I feel like they have adopted it much as a sort of religion...or have added it onto their religion...and just generally take it much more seriously. And also, americans in general have made it much more about material things...all these expensive wooden toys and fancy silks (here most people use old towels or cotton gauze) and gnome tree houses. The vast majority of that stuff here would be homemade with stuff gathered at the forest...ya know? Some of the simple spirit seems to have gotten a bit lost in the US..."


THANK YOU for posting this! I've been oohing and aahing over all of these expensive toys and such..and really feeling like I "need" it all. But after reading this I have such a better outlook.
post #36 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by eco_mama View Post
"Also, no family at the school would identify themselves as "Waldorf", as in "We're into the Waldorf/steiner approach" or whatever. It's not a label here. When I read what so many moms post in various waldorf forums i'm in, I feel like they have adopted it much as a sort of religion...or have added it onto their religion...and just generally take it much more seriously. And also, americans in general have made it much more about material things...all these expensive wooden toys and fancy silks (here most people use old towels or cotton gauze) and gnome tree houses. The vast majority of that stuff here would be homemade with stuff gathered at the forest...ya know? Some of the simple spirit seems to have gotten a bit lost in the US..."


THANK YOU for posting this! I've been oohing and aahing over all of these expensive toys and such..and really feeling like I "need" it all. But after reading this I have such a better outlook.
You don't *need* any of it, it's just a great alternative if you aren't into making your own. The key is natural. Wood, wool, etc really help children feel connected to the earth.
post #37 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by dillonandmarasmom View Post
Yes, an educated, enlightened decision. It is really not a good fit for learners like your ds. Mine would suffer the same boredom. It is a beautiful idea, great lessons, wonderful units, etc., but definitely a bit too slow and drawn out for my kids.
I sooo wish it was different. I wanted to love this school in every single way so badly. But I have to admit it's not moving fast enough for him ... no matter how much *I* would have loved that school experience, it's not right for my kiddo.
post #38 of 51
We have done it backwards in a sense.
My now 10th grader began Waldorf school last year in 9th grade. He went to a Buddhist preschool, traditional PS 1-5, small private for middle and then into Waldorf. He was one of 3-4 new kids in a class of 24 that moved up from 8th grade. His transition was very smooth, the kids embraced him and he found the teachers to be accessible which is important to him. By high school the media issues are not so important. While we have limited media, celebrated seasons and would be considered to be "Waldorf" (there's that word again) his being in more mainstream schools gave him a penchant for playing video games (at other kids' houses.) I outright asked them if this was going to be a problem in considering him for admission, I got an emphatic no. Things really loosen up by high school here in terms of media. Many of the long time families have X-boxes and flat screen TV's in their living rooms. So they loosen up about that stuff, but my job as a parent is so much easier than parents of PS teenagers, because the other parents still believe in parenting their 15 year olds.
The reason we chose to send him to a Waldorf school for high school is because we wanted him to be exposed to many different types of experiences. He would have never chosen to sing in the chorus, play an instrument or be in the school musical (dancing mind you). His experience doing these things has been fabulous for him.
We also wanted our son to be able to be his gentle, sweet artistic self and not have to pretend to be something else just to get through school everyday. At 15 I am still seeing the essence of my boy.
post #39 of 51
I went to one of the oldest, most established Waldorf schools in the US from 2-9th grades. My two siblings attended pre-K- 12th grade.

While there were many positive benefits of a WS education, overall, it was a negative experience for me. Not because of Waldorf, per se, but because my main lesson teacher was a truly awful woman. She shamed, humiliated, allowed bullying to flourish, and ruled by fear. Nothing was ever done about her, despite parental complaints (my own parents simply kept hoping she would improve) and for that, I have a very hard time forgiving everyone associated with that school.

That said, my sister and brother had wonderful, nurturing teachers who were dedicated and loving. Their experience was the opposite of mine.

Despite my teacher-from-hell, I really value the music, poetry (particularly all the poetry we memorized), handwork skills and the overall sense of beauty and mystery of the world associated with my Waldorf education. The presence of art everywhere made for an environment rich in beauty. And the traditions (the Christmas play, advent wreath, St. Lucia day, etc) were wonderful, as well.

Back in my day, only the really dedicated "anthropops" adopted the wooden toys/natural fibers/Weleda products "Waldorf lifestyle" discussed on this thread. (Which I see more as a "we're so wealthy, we can afford all this superior stuff" lifestyle, frankly). Most of the families at my school dressed in your regular '70s polyester and their kids watched tv at home. (The no-tv thing was one thing my family did follow).

Academically, yeah I see some problems with WS. I was an early reader and bored out of my mind in 2nd grade when my classmates were reciting the alphabet forward and backward and I longed for a book. Yes, the art is extremely structured and teacher-controlled (though that gets less so in the upper grades). No allowances were made for students with different learning styles, or those who needed extra help. (Of course, this was 30 years ago). And the curriculum was almost exclusively euro-centric - although I've heard this is not at all the case, today.

On the other hand, I learned in-depth about Greek and Roman myths, Norse legends, botany, how a house is built, and all sorts of things that would have been given short shrift in PS.

Speaking of which, when I transferred to PS in 9th grade, it wasn't a problem academically in the slightest.

The main thing for anyone to do who is interested in WS is to investigate the individual school. They are all different, and what flies at one may not at another. It may be the best environment for your kid, as it was for my siblings. Good luck!
post #40 of 51
:

I could not have described the expereinces any better than the pp! Hit the nail almost on the head for me as well,...besides that my teacher for the first 8 grades was a lovely and very caring women, although my sister had a nasty teacher, therefore my parents removed my sister from the school as there were no changes made regarding the teacher.

Regarding the reading part, that was also my biggest problem, besides a bully teacher in the high school years.
I always loved reading and was also very bored in the first couple of years at the WS, later they started to pick up the pace though and the other classes, that you mentioned made the experience nice.
My problem is that I know I would like my ds to go to preschool into the WS, but after that I am not so sure, that would really depend on how open minded the school would be and able to deal and challenge my ds with him being able to read!
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