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#1 of 111 Old 03-17-2009, 01:44 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Hi mamas,

I'm new to this forum. We're considering a Waldorf pre-school for DS, who will be three in May. I've been doing a lot of reading online and have some mixed feelings about certain aspects of Waldorf-Steiner education-- cliquish-ness, no reading before 7, the religious (spiritual?) aspect.

Anyway, I'd love some first hand information about what life is like in Waldorf schools.

Thanks in advance!
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#2 of 111 Old 03-17-2009, 09:24 AM
 
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Hi there, DS is in first grade at our WS and has been there since kindergarten. We have been there long enough now to definitely see some ups and downs, that's for sure. It's funny because when I was looking into Waldorf I saw so many criticisms about the hocus pocus religious stuff and yet that seems to be a non issue for us. I don't see anything "weird" going on and never really have. Sure, there is talk about Jesus and saints and fairies and gnomes and angels and some Pagan holidays celebrated but I just don't find any of that to be very bizarre. I think that people who are weirded out by any of those subjects being brought into school are just going to be unhappy with Waldorf anyway.

My biggest problems have been with teacher turnover and what seems like mismanagement issues. This is our second year and DS has had four different teachers. The first year his kindergarten teacher had to leave mid year to cover another teacher who left for health reasons. Her assistant took over for the rest of the year and he did terrible. This year his first grade teacher was hired and then fired mid year because she supposedly couldn't hack it. Now he is in a combined class with the second grade and actually doing quite well. I just haven't been fond of all the changes. Although one teacher at our school has taken a class all the way from 1st to 8th grade, I think that is the exception and with turnover I have seen many teachers leave over the past two years.

Then there is the cliqueishness which I will agree with wholeheartedly. After all, it is a private school and many parents are paying big bucks to send their kids there. This is one of my biggest issues with Waldorf. A lot of what I see seems to be the antithesis of what Steiner was all about. Most parents drive expensive SUV's and we've even heard some offhand comments from staff about wanting to attract people with more money to help the school out. Our family with old used cars, no tv, and a very small modest home is a minority, and yet I thought waldorf was all about those things. My child has been excluded from playdates and birthday parties. Hardly any of the moms speak to me because I'm not in parent council or because I don't volunteer all of my time there which is difficult with a toddler in tow and no child care. Or maybe it's because I don't shave or I have tattoos. I don't know. I definite see a lot of hypocrisy thought. The president of student council's kid is on a soccer team which is supposedly a no no for waldorf kids at that age. How can you go to the student council with such a problem when the president is the one not following the rules? Kwim?

Oh, and communication. Oh my goodness, it is terrible. Most of the school jokes about it as a matter of fact. You will get an email the day of saying that the school needs volunteers to move heavy items from the playground or something like that. There just seems to be little notice on important things.

Nevertheless, we are still there and most of my problems are with the overall community and admin, not the classroom. The classrooms are beautiful, the teachers are wonderful, and they really do care about the children. The thing about delayed academics is ridiculous to me. DS taught himself to read earlier this year with no assistance. He is now doing adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing beautifully. I don't even think I did a lot of that until second grade. He loves playing in gnome woods every day which is the name of the rugged outdoor area the kids get to explore and play in during recess. His imagination is limitless. He can create a game out of nothing. He is awed by the simplest of things like a rock or a feather. He is being allowed to live out his childhood without being inundated with constant media, pop culture icons, and pushed academics. In this respect, I think it is wonderful and despite all of the problems, can't imagine us anywhere else.

So all in all, I think the issues we have had are going to vary widely from school to school. We have no problem with waldorf philosophy. I think it is just that private schools don't have the same statewide accountability that public schools do so sometimes things can run amok in a bad way if there is mismanagement.
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#3 of 111 Old 03-17-2009, 12:25 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Wow, thank you so much for your response, it was really helpful.

I see two different issues here: Waldorf philosophy (which in the case of your school seems to be a non-issue) and private school issues (need for money, volunteers, high expectations of parental involvement, etc.)

I'm looking forward to visiting the prospective school to get an idea of the underlying philosophy. And to hear what kind of teacher turnover there is!!

It'll also be interesting to see the parents of other students, what kind of people they are.

Thanks so much for your thoughtful response.
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#4 of 111 Old 03-17-2009, 04:46 PM
 
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I did a lot of reading & research online before deciding to send DD to a Waldorf Kindy. I was really afraid of all the negativity on the internet about Waldorf being 'cultish' and the hocus-pocus side of things, along with the racist connotations. But, those things that scared me on the internet have been completely and totally non-existent in our school - and in fact, in hindsight it is laughable that I was even drawn into all that stuff.

As for administrative issues - yes, there are many frustrations - but I think that comes from an underfunded & understaffed school, and sometimes too many cooks in the kitchen as far as volunteer & parental environment. I think those issues are indicative of a private school, and will vary greatly from school to school depending on the admin & management staff.

We are very happy with our choice, and looking forward to another year of Waldorf kindy next year. I still have some reservations about the grades, but we are weighing our options on a year-by-year basis. So far, it has been a wonderful fit for our daughter, and we will keep her there as long as things continue to 'work' for our family.

Beth
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#5 of 111 Old 03-17-2009, 11:41 PM
 
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I'm also researching Waldorf as an option for our daughter. My main concern is about technology. (We're a very pro-technology household.) You might be interested in this thread, Can you be a technophile and still be Waldorf?:
http://www.mothering.com/discussions...php?p=13261097

I'll be watching your thread here for more insights. I did decide to go ahead and sign Evie up for a playgroup we have at our local school, to test the waters. From what I've read, even though they have the same core principles, the type of experience you have seems to vary wildly from school to school.
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#6 of 111 Old 03-18-2009, 09:19 AM
 
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As for the technology thing, I wouldn't consider Waldorf to be anti technology at all. It is just believed that young children, especially in early childhood, should not be constantly exposed to machines that do things for them, that they should be able to use their imagination instead. I am finding that a lot of things in Waldorf like tv and extracurricular activities tend to be more lax in the older years if you can get by that long. I'm sure that many families at our school have a lot of electronics and such at home but as long as they aren't constantly planting their kid in front of the tv or latest video game or giving them fancy electronic toys on a regular basis I don't see a conflict.
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#7 of 111 Old 03-18-2009, 12:34 PM
 
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A huge con for us, one which is causing us to leave Waldorf education at the end of this school year, is that, at least in our experience, it does not provide resources for children who are beyond the class in certain areas of academics. For example, DS's second grade class has been doing addition with carrying/renaming for weeks, maybe months, and is just going to begin subtraction with borrowing after the Spring Break. DS learned that months ago at home. He is well advanced of his class in math, and yet there is no structure in place for him or others who might be ahead to work at their advanced abilities. I need to speak to his teacher about providing him with extra work, but it is frustrating to us that there isn't already a way for him to work at his own level. We are moving once our house sells, and the public school district we plan to attend in another state places children in math according to ability, not just grade level.

There are many things we've loved about our school (Waldorf-inspired charter, but very faithful to the Waldorf curriculum)--handwork, lots of time to move and play, music, etc, but we don't believe there is enough room for individuality to shine. All the paintings look the same. All the students work at the same level. Reading groups are also not by level. I have spent time volunteering in the classroom, and I see kids act out (talking out of turn, getting up from desks, etc), because they are simply bored because of too much repetition and no resources for gifted/advanced kids.

I am currently using an internet-based program, combined with Kumon workbooks, to teach our 6 year old dd how to read. To catch up with first-graders in the public school she will attend next year, this is necessary, and she LOVES it. She just eats it up with great joy, and there's no holding her back. I can't imagine her interest being held by months of just writing the alphabet in Waldorf first grade--she'll easily be reading by the Fall, and I have seen the behavior brought on by the boredom of kids in a Waldorf classroom who are already reading by first grade. Our DS is also using the internet-based curriculum for math and reading, and he loves it.

I'm really not trying to be overly critical of Waldorf Ed. I just wanted to be honest about the cons of our family's Waldorf ed. experience. It's just not working for us anymore.
Daisytoo likes this.

Heather, Mama to DS(10) DD(7.5),DD(6)
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#8 of 111 Old 03-18-2009, 05:48 PM
 
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Since you are looking at PS/kindy, I can whole heartedly say go for it. I think that the cons of Waldorf appear in first grade.
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#9 of 111 Old 03-18-2009, 07:16 PM
 
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We are in our third year at our school (parent and toddler and now in second year of kinde)
Just to address the specifics you mentioned in your original post...
The reading thing isn't a big deal for us as there is plenty of research to back up why kids shouldn't be formally taught reading before they are ready which generally speaking in around 6 or 7. Scandinavian countries which have impressive literacy rates.
The idea being that in a Waldorf school a child learns to love learning. When they are open to and wanting to go after the knowledge it is presented to them.
Our kinde teacher had a great analogy about this idea. Think of the child like an elastic band. You pull it back, and pull it back until it is tight and straining against you before letting it go at which point it will fly so much further.

The clique part of it? Well, I suppose that varies school by school. If you mean in the way that pixiewytch describes, it's not like that in our school. Sure there are groups of friends but there in an exclusiveness to any of it. It may have something to do with the fact that we are a city centre school with a sliding fee scale so there are all kinds of people. I mean I have tattoos, a nose ring and don't even own a car and I am our class convenor, craft group convenor, occasional kinde assistant and whatever else needs doing. I do all of that with people from all different income levels and backgrounds.

If you mean it in the way I have read some negative websites describing it where people in Waldorf schools only have other Waldorf friends, maybe. We all tend to be drawn to people with whom we relate and that often means similar lifestyles, especially similar parenting styles. So, people will often end up after a couple of years in a Waldorf school with mostly friends from the Waldorf community. Though I imagine it's the same at any kind of school, you are friends with who you see and spend the most time with-work or school.

As for the religious aspect of it, it's been a non issue.

My cons have been as others have mentioned and that is the lack of organization and communication. Waldorf schools are self governing and consist of a few core groups (school management team, collage of teachers, governors/board). These groups make decisions and since there isn't an individual in charge, unless it all flows as it should it can break down. In my time at our school there have been peaks and troughs.

Parental involvment is an essential part of all Waldorf schools. The more you can volunteer and be involved, the more you will get out of it and the more you will learn about your school. I know not everyone can give a lot of time but do expect to be asked. For me, this is a good thing as it means I get to give a lot of input into how my daughter's school works.

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A huge con for us, one which is causing us to leave Waldorf education at the end of this school year, is that, at least in our experience, it does not provide resources for children who are beyond the class in certain areas of academics.

There are many things we've loved about our school (Waldorf-inspired charter, but very faithful to the Waldorf curriculum)--handwork, lots of time to move and play, music, etc, but we don't believe there is enough room for individuality to shine. All the paintings look the same. All the students work at the same level. Reading groups are also not by level. I have spent time volunteering in the classroom, and I see kids act out (talking out of turn, getting up from desks, etc), because they are simply bored because of too much repetition and no resources for gifted/advanced kids.
This is a concern of mine at the moment. There really isn't room for children who may be different in what they need academically.

Since you are considering kinde, I'd say go for it! It will also give you a chance to get to know your school so that you can make an informed choice when it comes to class one.
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#10 of 111 Old 03-19-2009, 01:48 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks so much for all the thoughtful replies.

You all have pretty much confirmed my hunch that it would probably be a great choice for pre-school/ kindergarten-- then a re-evaluation at grade 1 and on.

My concern about the reading thing is really more what 3boobykins describes as her reasons for taking her child out of Waldorf. I don't mind it at all, as long as it meshes well with DS' needs. But if he really wants to learn more earlier, or go further than his peers, will he be likely to be held back? To me that's just as bad for a child as being pushed beyond his or her capacities.

As for the clique-ish aspect, I agree that people tend to be drawn towards those who parent like they do. And in researching Waldorf, I find that without even realizing it, we are already pretty waldorf-y. But the "there's only one good way to do things" school of thought re: parenting really, really bugs me. I'm sure it totally depends on the school, though.

Thanks again for all the food for thought! I will update once we've visited the school and met some of the teachers-- should be in early April.
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#11 of 111 Old 03-19-2009, 11:42 AM
 
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Thanks so much for all the thoughtful replies.

You all have pretty much confirmed my hunch that it would probably be a great choice for pre-school/ kindergarten-- then a re-evaluation at grade 1 and on.

My concern about the reading thing is really more what 3boobykins describes as her reasons for taking her child out of Waldorf. I don't mind it at all, as long as it meshes well with DS' needs. But if he really wants to learn more earlier, or go further than his peers, will he be likely to be held back? To me that's just as bad for a child as being pushed beyond his or her capacities.

As for the clique-ish aspect, I agree that people tend to be drawn towards those who parent like they do. And in researching Waldorf, I find that without even realizing it, we are already pretty waldorf-y. But the "there's only one good way to do things" school of thought re: parenting really, really bugs me. I'm sure it totally depends on the school, though.

Thanks again for all the food for thought! I will update once we've visited the school and met some of the teachers-- should be in early April.
Sounds like a good way to approach it. I think because our school is a charter, we don't experience the cliquishness others describe, so we're lucky that way.

The early learning thing--I would guess, without having time to research, that there are plenty of studies that demonstrate why early learning/reading are a good thing for children. What I know from personal experience is that many kids teach themselves to read early, like before age 5. I think I started reading around 5 in montessori school, and I took to it immediately and could never get enough. My niece is in first grade and reading at a fifth grade level. My point is that I don't believe you can fit every child into the "reading too early is detrimental" or "early reading is great" box. That's why Waldorf isn't working for us anymore. But it is a perfect fit for plenty of children.

Heather, Mama to DS(10) DD(7.5),DD(6)
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#12 of 111 Old 03-19-2009, 01:40 PM
 
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And for what it's worth, DS's current teacher seems to be giving children in her combined class every opportunity to expand their learning. In fact, they visit the third grade for a buddy reading group and DS is reading with another third grader because he is more advanced than many other classmates. In our situation, his exceptional brightness so to speak hasn't been a problem or been discouraged.

Mind you, we have never and I mean NEVER taught academics at home or reading. If DS asked to learn something in particular which rarely happened, we would just tell him casually that he will learn it in due time. Honestly, I can't even remember a specific instance of this...and I mean, how many young children can you think of who actually ask to be taught technical things like mathematics? I sometimes think this is more the parents exposing them to it than the child initiating a desire to learn it. I would imagine that a child being taught something at home before it is presented at school may be pretty darned board and discouraged by the time it comes around to school.

Otherwise, I think the whole idea of teachers discouraging children who are more advanced is definitely a school by school/teacher by teacher basis.
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#13 of 111 Old 03-19-2009, 02:51 PM
 
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And for what it's worth, DS's current teacher seems to be giving children in her combined class every opportunity to expand their learning.
I'm glad it turned out this way!

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I sometimes think this is more the parents exposing them to it than the child initiating a desire to learn it.
Coming from a culture where no child learns to read before school, before they don't have alphabet books or magnetic letters or anything of that kind, I tend to agree with that. And I have to admit that the idea of a seven year old child needing more academic stimulation than their peers is a little strange to me. I'm not sure I understand what it means exactly.

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I would imagine that a child being taught something at home before it is presented at school may be pretty darned board and discouraged by the time it comes around to school.
Actually, 1/3rd of my (very small) class could read fairly well before they came to Class One, and they are not bored in the slightest, quite the opposite -- in their cases it has been true what they say, that if a child is 'ahead' in some ways then they will probably be 'behind' in others, and they have welcomed the opportunity to 'catch up'. If you do your job the way I think it should be done there should be plenty for the child to do in class besides the academics, the academic stuff should be the icing of the cake, the destination of the journey, and the journey in itself should be stimulating enough. You don't do the letters through stories because children can't learn their letters otherwise, you do it because children need these stories and they need to train their memories through recall and they need to work through what they have heard through art -- and then at the end there comes a letter too, because they also need to learn the letters.

I hope this makes some sense, it would take an essay to explain it properly I think.



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Otherwise, I think the whole idea of teachers discouraging children who are more advanced is definitely a school by school/teacher by teacher basis.
Definitely. Personally I haven't come across anybody who discouraged any children from learning anything.
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#14 of 111 Old 03-19-2009, 11:09 PM
 
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Otherwise, I think the whole idea of teachers discouraging children who are more advanced is definitely a school by school/teacher by teacher basis.
Discouragement has never been an issue for us. However, I do feel like there isn't support in the system for kids who are gifted or need extra help. That's not to say that anyone is going out of their way to be unhelpful but just that the circumstances are such that there isn't a choice but to go along with the core group.
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#15 of 111 Old 03-19-2009, 11:19 PM
 
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Yes, it just isn't part of the Waldorf model to give individual children individual work in Waldorf. If that's what you want, Montessori is all about that. The Waldorf model is centered around the idea that there is an ideal curriculum for all kids who are at a certain age and development level. This is one of the things that I think some parents are confused about when they are first learning about Waldorf. I think some assume that "alternative" and "holistic" implies that there is individual pacing and choice of activity. The model does not accomodate these ideas (that I know of)- except that there is more time in the play yard than might be typical of a mainstream school. When they are in class in the grade school, they are doing what the rest of the class is doing. I agree that this doesn't connote that they are being "held back." It is just a different idea of how the curriculum meets an individual child.
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#16 of 111 Old 03-20-2009, 01:58 AM
 
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Hi there,
I was looking into Waldorf for my daughter for preschool, but I heard that you need to wean your toddler in order to attend. Is this true has anyone heard this before? I know that there is a lot of difference depending on the school, and teacher but this seems really strange.
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#17 of 111 Old 03-20-2009, 08:51 AM
 
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Hi there,
I was looking into Waldorf for my daughter for preschool, but I heard that you need to wean your toddler in order to attend. Is this true has anyone heard this before? I know that there is a lot of difference depending on the school, and teacher but this seems really strange.
There seem to be some very weird ideas about breastfeeding and Waldrof circulating. Some anthroposophists and Waldorf teachers do indeed believe that babies need to be weaned. I think this is becoming less of a fixed firm belief. I would talk to the specific teacher if I were you.
My parents are anthroposophists and they have come around to accepting the idea that their grandson breastfeeds and will be for some time (he is now 13 months and should have been weaned some months ago according to how they used to think.) I think it helped that I explained the latest research showing the benefits of breastfeeding on immune function and overall benefit to the child.
I found the anthroposophical reasoning is a bit dated and out of touch with the benefits of extended breastfeeding.

Megan, mama to her little boy (Feb2008) and introducing our little girl (Dec 2010)
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#18 of 111 Old 03-20-2009, 01:42 PM
 
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Yes, it just isn't part of the Waldorf model to give individual children individual work in Waldorf. If that's what you want, Montessori is all about that. The Waldorf model is centered around the idea that there is an ideal curriculum for all kids who are at a certain age and development level. This is one of the things that I think some parents are confused about when they are first learning about Waldorf. I think some assume that "alternative" and "holistic" implies that there is individual pacing and choice of activity. The model does not accomodate these ideas (that I know of)- except that there is more time in the play yard than might be typical of a mainstream school. When they are in class in the grade school, they are doing what the rest of the class is doing. I agree that this doesn't connote that they are being "held back." It is just a different idea of how the curriculum meets an individual child.
This is why I kick myself for not having done more research into Waldorf education and Steiner's beliefs. Such blatant exclusivity would have been a huge warning sign to us. Been there, done that (belief systems that claim to be the one right way for all), have the emotional scars to prove it. We chose our school based on the positive experiences of friends. What is interesting is that many of said friends have left the school since we started out kids there. I am not saying, by any means, that our children have not had wonderful experiences at their school. They have. I don't at all regret everything about our choice. We're just done, that's all.

Heather, Mama to DS(10) DD(7.5),DD(6)
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#19 of 111 Old 03-20-2009, 01:44 PM
 
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Hi there,
I was looking into Waldorf for my daughter for preschool, but I heard that you need to wean your toddler in order to attend. Is this true has anyone heard this before? I know that there is a lot of difference depending on the school, and teacher but this seems really strange.
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There seem to be some very weird ideas about breastfeeding and Waldrof circulating. Some anthroposophists and Waldorf teachers do indeed believe that babies need to be weaned. I think this is becoming less of a fixed firm belief. I would talk to the specific teacher if I were you.
As ema-adama said, I think it really depends on the individual school and teacher. Weaning isn't really an issue at our school with parents in the toddler group breast feeding all kinds of ages up to about age 3.
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#20 of 111 Old 03-21-2009, 12:04 AM
 
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Hi there,
I was looking into Waldorf for my daughter for preschool, but I heard that you need to wean your toddler in order to attend. Is this true has anyone heard this before? I know that there is a lot of difference depending on the school, and teacher but this seems really strange.
We are looking into Waldorf for our son and the kindy handbook they gave us to look over specifically mentioned that they prefer the kids to be weaned. Their first year kindy starts kids at age 4.5 and up.

Lisa, mama to A (3/05) and R (11/07) and L (8/10)
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#21 of 111 Old 03-21-2009, 01:33 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Coming from a culture where no child learns to read before school, before they don't have alphabet books or magnetic letters or anything of that kind, I tend to agree with that. And I have to admit that the idea of a seven year old child needing more academic stimulation than their peers is a little strange to me. I'm not sure I understand what it means exactly.
I think some kids do need more stimulation in some areas. I have very clear memories of being desperate to read, aching to learn how to do it. I probably could have learned earlier if either my teachers or my parents had been able to give me the opportunity.

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Discouragement has never been an issue for us. However, I do feel like there isn't support in the system for kids who are gifted or need extra help. That's not to say that anyone is going out of their way to be unhelpful but just that the circumstances are such that there isn't a choice but to go along with the core group.
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Originally Posted by orangewallflower View Post
The Waldorf model is centered around the idea that there is an ideal curriculum for all kids who are at a certain age and development level.
This seriously blows my mind. I find that a really appalling attitude, actually.

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Originally Posted by lisalulu View Post
We are looking into Waldorf for our son and the kindy handbook they gave us to look over specifically mentioned that they prefer the kids to be weaned. Their first year kindy starts kids at age 4.5 and up.
This also blows my mind. None of their business.

That said, I'm still willing to give it a try for at least the first year of preschool. I wish there was a Montessori school near where we'll be living, it sounds like it's more in tune with my educational beliefs, although Waldorf is in tune with a lot of my personal beliefs....
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#22 of 111 Old 03-21-2009, 02:52 AM
 
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I wish there was a Montessori school near where we'll be living, it sounds like it's more in tune with my educational beliefs, although Waldorf is in tune with a lot of my personal beliefs....
This is how I am, I favour Waldorf for home, Montessori for school. Though, we do have a public Montessori charter school here : Honestly, democratic free schools perfectly match my feelings on how school should be, but we don't have any in our city. More and more research is making me lean towards homeschooling again, anyway, so who the heck knows where we'll end up! I wouldn't mind at all dd going to Waldorf kindy, though, esp if she were going to regular public school. I am looking forward to doing their weekly parent-included Morning Garden program next year. No way am I sending my kids to school at age three, even if that is where Montessori starts! School is for five and up, imo, so I do agree w/ Waldorf there, later is better!

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#23 of 111 Old 03-21-2009, 04:29 AM
 
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This was so helpful. I am looking into 1st grade options for next year and checked out our Waldorf charter. What I saw in 1st grade was so surprising...they were very slowly writing the letters to spell "math"...they weren't done after we were in the room for 10 minutes. Several kids were done with the 'M' and either begin to move ahead or draw at which point the teacher would come by and take the crayon from their hand saying that wasn't what they were doing right now. I had NO idea that the kids are expected to move as a unit. I know that wouldn't work for my child and I'm confused as to why this is part of the model. I don't see the value in it. Someone had said that often the kids will experience what feels like boredom and the model allows kids to feel that and not try to busy themselves. Is that what you folks heard as well?
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#24 of 111 Old 03-22-2009, 07:46 PM
 
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My son is in Waldorf Kinder & my sister is a Waldorf grade teacher -- currently at a charter school in Phoenix. I don't know that my very independent, super curious, analytical child would be best served by the grades curriculum - although my sister believes that every child can be well served by Waldorf education. The PP about the fundamental Waldorf philosophy re: their curriculum & child development was perfectly said & is really one of my biggest reservations. (I'm not at all sure that institutional education of any kind is really the best way to support learning -- but that's another thread!)

I wanted to respond to the following observation:
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Originally Posted by swampangel View Post
What I saw in 1st grade was so surprising...they were very slowly writing the letters to spell "math"...they weren't done after we were in the room for 10 minutes. Several kids were done with the 'M' and either begin to move ahead or draw at which point the teacher would come by and take the crayon from their hand saying that wasn't what they were doing right now. I had NO idea that the kids are expected to move as a unit. I know that wouldn't work for my child and I'm confused as to why this is part of the model. I don't see the value in it. Someone had said that often the kids will experience what feels like boredom and the model allows kids to feel that and not try to busy themselves. Is that what you folks heard as well?
My sister has explained that Waldorf is a formal, social education. This means that the structure of the group is part of the learning experience. She talks about how one of the primary goals of first grade is the formation of a class identity, of the group that the students will be a part of for the next 8 years. I see this as kind of fascinating, with real pros & cons. From her (& other parents at my sons school) I've heard of a remarkable acceptance of differences amoung the students - particularly special needs or behavioral issues. I think that focus on the group formation, rather than independent learning, may be a part of this. However, I find myself just too much of an individualist, & appreciate that part of my sons personality too much, to really embrace this teaching philosophy.

Loving mama to magical boys Skyler (11/21/03) and Gryffin Emrys (9/30/08). 

 

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#25 of 111 Old 03-22-2009, 08:43 PM
 
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I think any family's experience of waldorf has to do principally with their particular school and teachers.

I've heard of so many strange experiences over the years on this forum and others, and really can't imagine similar situations at our local Waldorf schools.

Overall, we take it year by year, but for now, we have been very happy with Waldorf. I should add that many of the adults I know who attended Waldorf schools as children turned out to be pretty neat and accomplished individuals.
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#26 of 111 Old 03-22-2009, 10:02 PM
 
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I just can't get past the blatant racism at the heart of the philosophy.
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#27 of 111 Old 03-22-2009, 10:25 PM
 
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My experience with waldorf goes back to the 60s. I started at waldorf in the middle of 8th grade and attended for two years. Not perfect, but a very rich experience in many ways and I still (more than 40 years later) draw on those two years and the special teachers I encountered for inspiration. Two of my younger siblings attended after I did and both gained from their time at the school.

My daughter attended the same school I did for 10 years and later went to a different waldorf school for three years of high school.

My grandchildren are currently in a waldorf school, the girl in 3rd grade and my grandson in kindergarten. They are thriving and love the school.

I also worked as the business manager at a waldorf school for three years.

So I have direct experience of four different schools in two countries.

Problems: lots.

Benefits: lots.

The schools are not perfect and they don't fit every family or every child.

The delayed reading thing has worked well for us. My daughter jumped into reading between 2nd and 3rd grade and has been a total bookworm ever since. My granddaughter started seriously reading at the beginning of 2nd grade and now reads at roughly a 5th grade level. What I really appreciate about her reading is that when she reads out loud she reads expressively. She is also an excellent knitter, draws and paints well, is progressing nicely with mathematics and is gaining on the social side, too, an area she finds challenging.

Her little brother, who will be 6 in a few months, is totally uninterested in learning to read and write, so it is a good thing he is in a waldorf school. He is interested in numbers and arithmetic and is exploring this realm with great pleasure. School is for playing. Home is for experimenting with electricity (one of his passions) and working with numbers and more play. I'm so glad that no one is pushing him and he is free to explore the world at his own pace.
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#28 of 111 Old 03-23-2009, 03:43 AM
 
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I just can't get past the blatant racism at the heart of the philosophy.
I am curious as to what your understanding is about the racism in Waldorf.

Megan, mama to her little boy (Feb2008) and introducing our little girl (Dec 2010)
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#29 of 111 Old 03-23-2009, 12:00 PM
 
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I am curious as to what your understanding is about the racism in Waldorf.
In his teaching Steiner talks about how people go through each of the various races in sequential incarnations. He discusses how each race (until white) are limited in what they can do. And as they go through these incarnations they "evolve" into superior people.

Although he tries to clarify that this does not make white people better (because before they were white they were also black, yellow, brown...) he does claim that white is the ultimate end point.

Do some reading on this topic. I used to be very interested in Waldorf. I still am in some of the applications and end goals.

But, in good consciousness, I cannot send my child to anything that believes there is a fundamental difference between people based on the color of their skin. I detest racism. And I think that philosophies like Waldorf are damaging to our society.
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#30 of 111 Old 03-23-2009, 03:52 PM
 
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Did you see any evidence of racism in Waldorf Education?

Megan, mama to her little boy (Feb2008) and introducing our little girl (Dec 2010)
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