Waldorf schools and skipping grades? - Mothering Forums

Forum Jump: 
 
Thread Tools
#1 of 17 Old 10-13-2009, 06:10 AM - Thread Starter
 
sara24bella's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 43
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
My son will be 5 in the beginning of January. At his school, the preK/Kindy classes are all mixed ages. He has always been a bit "mature" for his age, and when we started at the Waldorf school last winter, it was evident that he was a lot more mature than the other kids in his class level. Since the classes are all mixed ages, we asked the school if he could skip the middle year, and be considered K this year. They said we had to have him tested by a psychologist (which is normal here in Europe) who ended up showing that our son tested way above average both intellectually and emotionally. This still wasnt enough for the school, and they wanted to wait for the first part of this school year to see if he should be moved. Now the time has come, and we are meeting a lot of resistance. They say that its simply not done in Waldorf schools, and want to meet with him to do some sort of test, and meet with us, etc. I am extremely frustrated b/c we have made a lot of sacrifices to keep the children in this school, and had he been born a week earlier, none of this would be a problem!

As he is already reading simple books, he does adding games by himself or his brother, is always counting, etc., I can't imagine him having to wait another nearly 2 years to be "introduced" to the world of numbers and letters. I also know that once he gets bored, he's going to get unruly, and it will end up being a bad experience for him, when ALL of that could be headed off by switching his class this year (not even switching classROOMS, since its a mixed class!)

Anyway, we have to write a letter to the governing bodies at the school pleading our case- why we think it would behoove our son to move up a class now. So far, their reasoning is that 'its frowned upon in a Waldorf school", but I have to believe that there have been exceptions made somewhere in the world! And there must have been times when a child has had learning challenges, and it's been best for the child to repeat Kindy or a year of PreK, correct? What are Rudolph Steiners thoughts on the individuality of a child? Did he really believe that ALL children are the same? Did he recognize that some children may have special needs in certain areas over others? If he did, does anyone have any specific quotes or citations that I can use in my letter to the school? If he absolutely believed that all children were the same, I'd like to know how some of you learned to live with that philosophy. I really love my childrens school and they are both thriving for now, so I would love to be able to live with the fact that all of their needs may not be met. Any suggestions? Thank you.
sara24bella is offline  
Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
#2 of 17 Old 10-14-2009, 02:07 AM - Thread Starter
 
sara24bella's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 43
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Bumping this up in hopes of a reply. Are children really never held back or advanced in waldorf schools? We have to send a letter to them this week which is why Im so anxious to hear some expert opinions. Thanks.
sara24bella is offline  
#3 of 17 Old 10-14-2009, 02:03 PM
 
DimitraDaisy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: UK
Posts: 105
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by sara24bella View Post
My son will be 5 in the beginning of January. ... I am extremely frustrated b/c we have made a lot of sacrifices to keep the children in this school, and had he been born a week earlier, none of this would be a problem!
Would you care to explain this to me? Because in our school, and in many others, children go to Class 1 in September if they have turned 6 by June 30th -- clearly that can't be the case at your school, but I can't imagine what is. Are you hoping for your son to go to Class 1 next September, when he'll be five a half? What is your school's cut-off date?
DimitraDaisy is offline  
#4 of 17 Old 10-14-2009, 02:12 PM
 
Hannahsmummy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Dear Green Place
Posts: 1,228
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
I am certainly not an expert on this at all but will throw out my personal experience here.

My daughter seems to be gifted (I hate that term but she is advanced and particularly artistically) and she spent her last year of kinde really struggling with it and desperate to move on. I wouldn't say that she was bored per se but feeling frustrated and wanting to do class one stuff.

I did broach the subject briefly of class one but it wasn't really thought of seriously. I have never heard of a child being allowed to move up a grade level that was beyond their age. That's not to say it doesn't happen.
However, I have seen kids kept back in kinde when they were the age to move on to class one. Those were decisions that were made in conjunction with the parents and not an unusual situation at all.

I don't really know how your situation is manifesting but in our case, I am glad that I didn't push to have my daughter move on early as the holding back has really done wonders for her confidence. She was never insecure or anything but she is a serious perfectionist who has had trouble learning in front of people as she'd been seen to be doing it less than perfect. That last year of kinde got her to a place where she was much happier practice in front of people as she so wanted to learn.

I think there are lots of factors for keeping a child where they are in terms of moving from the early years to the lower school. BUT in a pre kinde to kinde situation, I have seen kids move according to maturity as long as they are close to the age range of the class they are going on to.
Hannahsmummy is offline  
#5 of 17 Old 10-14-2009, 05:23 PM - Thread Starter
 
sara24bella's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 43
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by DimitraDaisy View Post
Would you care to explain this to me? Because in our school, and in many others, children go to Class 1 in September if they have turned 6 by June 30th -- clearly that can't be the case at your school, but I can't imagine what is. Are you hoping for your son to go to Class 1 next September, when he'll be five a half? What is your school's cut-off date?
Here, children will go to Class 1 in September if they were born on or before Dec 31 2004. My son was born January 8, 2005- one week later. Thats what's so frustrating...
sara24bella is offline  
#6 of 17 Old 10-14-2009, 06:19 PM
 
orangewallflower's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 394
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
So he would be five and a half starting first grade? They would be very rare indeed in Waldorf in the U.S. Usually they have to be six sometime in the summer (June is a common cutoff) to start first grade in September, and they are usually very strict about the age cutoff here. It is interesting to hear about a winter age cutoff. I doubt that you will change their mind with test scores, but if you think you will leave the school rather than wait a year, let them know. They may prefer to bend the rule a bit than lose a family.
orangewallflower is offline  
#7 of 17 Old 10-14-2009, 06:45 PM
 
Hannahsmummy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Dear Green Place
Posts: 1,228
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
We are also in Europe. It is a very rare case indeed that a child of age 5.5 goes on to class one in our school. Though, it's not completely unheard of. Usually those cases are ones that have been through two years of kinde first.
I'd say that a child who was showing signs of readiness for class one and did well in the interviews and was only a week behind in birth date, probably wouldn't have a problem in our school.
Hannahsmummy is offline  
#8 of 17 Old 10-14-2009, 09:56 PM
 
melamama's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2002
Location: planet earth
Posts: 1,690
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
I know you mention that you've seen a psychologist, but wondering if seeing a Therapeutic Eurythmist would help. In our school, the K teachers, the new First Grade Teacher, and the Therapeutic Eurythmist all evaluate the children. This would at least help you --in terms of speaking the language of your school. For me it would be important what the eurythmist had to say about First Grade readiness.

You say that he is advanced intellectually and emotionally, but I am wondering if they are leaning in that direction in terms of his being in his body, and his physicality. The way I understand it, the school would want the child to be as balanced as possible, and although the child is advanced in some areas, it may not be the case that all facets have had the time to develop.

In our school it is much more common for the boys to be a good 7 years before starting first.

My dd is in g.4 and you can really tell which children were 7 when they started and which ones were 6. I started my dd in First at 6.5 because she was very verbal and dh pushed and pushed because she was "ready". Half the girls in her class are a solid 10 and half are still 9 and it is a big difference---regardless of which ones were intellectually strong in First grade.
melamama is offline  
#9 of 17 Old 10-15-2009, 12:16 PM
 
DimitraDaisy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: UK
Posts: 105
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
I was going to tell you that in my class I have two children who are technically 'too old' for it (one by three months, one by a week), and one who is techinically 'too young' (by a week). I think cut-off dates should be guidelines and not treated as a law. Children don't grow up on a set timetable. And Torin Finser, in his book 'School as a journey', mentions having a five-and-a-half year old in his class. It's in the first chapter I think and you can probably read it on Google books.

That said, and at the risk of sounding like a Waldorf teacher, your school's cut-off date is very late! I thought I was very progressive, being willing to consider any child who had turned six by September 1st... but December? I just can't imagine teaching a class where a good deal of children (1/3th of them) are just five... I do think five year olds belong in Kindergarten. I am not going to go on about the whys and wherefores of this, since it is not what you are asking for, and I don't want to be annoying, but there is a thread here where I talked about first grade readiness and why later might be better that you could read if you felt so inclined, and other people chimed in. It might be worth reading. (It's not too long.)

Finally, when a child's birthday is close to a cut-off date, or there are, for whatever reason, doubts about their readiness, it is good to wonder: is this a child who will be better off being one of the youngest children in a class, or one who would benefit from being one of the oldest? Try to imagine your son in third grade or in sixth grade -- what will that be like?

There is something quite magical about that last year of kindergarten, I sometimes think it is the year when children 'round up' their development, 'catching up' with whatever aspects of it might have been lagging behind before. Of course it doesn't happen every time, and often the six year olds get bored in kindergarten for the last term, but I think it is mostly our fears and concerns that turn this into a real issue.

I'm probably not making much sense, I'm quite tired... but I wanted to reply to this today.
DimitraDaisy is offline  
#10 of 17 Old 10-15-2009, 04:30 PM
 
jayneCO's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 8
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
It sounds like you might be living in bavaria where all children who turn 6 by the end of December must (!) start Grade 1 in the summer before that (at 5.5 years). This is a state regulation and all schools must abide to it. I find the rule awful and would have a really hard time sending a 5 year old to school, but I don't know your boy. I doubt that many public schools would accept an even younger child (even by just a week) and he would be so much younger than most of his peers.

I'm worried cause our daughter was born in July, so she would be 7 starting first grade in Waldorf here which might be late for her ... don't know yet.

As to the question, in case of a standard deadline such as end of May (which we have here), I would try to convince the school if I felt my child was ready and she was born in June/July. But in your case, I can totally relate with the school, because it is not just about intellectual readiness, but more about social maturity. You can always feed his intellectual curiosity at home ... although some Waldorf schools might frown upon that, it is definitely something I would do if I felt my child needed it (and I frankly don't care what Steiner thinks, because I'm the one who knows my child).
Also, if he is really enjoying academic activities a lot, a Waldorf school might not be the best choice for him after all? I really love their concept, but if my children were particularly gifted and interested in academics, I would choose a different path for them. The Waldorf approach would probably be to distract them and engage them physically, but I personally do believe in supporting my child's interests.
jayneCO is offline  
#11 of 17 Old 10-16-2009, 09:27 AM - Thread Starter
 
sara24bella's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 43
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Thank you all for your input. In the end, we wrote long letter explaining our situation/history. Now its up to the schools "governing bodies" to decide if they will pass him or not. I completely understand how important the last year of Kindy is, and I adore his teacher and everything that do. My concern is if he has to wait 2 years start the alphabet, etc, how that will probably affect him. And if they decide not to pass him, will we have to switch his school? The part that is so hard for me is that its not just the warm-n-fuzzy environment of the Waldorf school that attracts me, its the fact that when children leave the school, they leave grounded, intelligent and caring human beings- and its like my son will miss out on THAT just because he was born a week late. That's what saddens me...
sara24bella is offline  
#12 of 17 Old 10-16-2009, 11:07 AM
 
DimitraDaisy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: UK
Posts: 105
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by sara24bella View Post
My concern is if he has to wait 2 years start the alphabet, etc, how that will probably affect him. And if they decide not to pass him, will we have to switch his school?....The part that is so hard for me is that its not just the warm-n-fuzzy environment of the Waldorf school that attracts me, its the fact that when children leave the school, they leave grounded, intelligent and caring human beings- and its like my son will miss out on THAT just because he was born a week late. That's what saddens me...
I can understand your concerns... to a certain extend. (I admit that I do have issues with the idea that young children need academics, it's just a cultural construct, and one very specific to the English-speaking world, but I won't go into that now.) But, remember that your son doesn't have to miss out on any of that because he was born a week late. It's just that you think that he will suffer if he has to spend another two years in kindergarten. He might, or he might not; I'd say it makes more sense to wait and see, and deal with things when and if they happen.

There is a boy in my class with a September birthday. He turned 7 at the very beginning of Class 1, and 8 at the beginning of Class 2. Furthermore, he had a growth spurt in March last year, and turned from a dreamy young child to a mischievous trickster seemingly overnight. He had all the signs of being ready for Class 2 six months before Class 2 started. He's not suffering from it at all. Quite the opposite, this situation has enabled this quiet, laid back, easygoing child to find the leader and trailblazer within himself! There are gifts in the most unusual places sometimes.
DimitraDaisy is offline  
#13 of 17 Old 10-16-2009, 02:46 PM
 
njsummer01's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Posts: 315
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by DimitraDaisy View Post

There is a boy in my class with a September birthday. He turned 7 at the very beginning of Class 1, and 8 at the beginning of Class 2. Furthermore, he had a growth spurt in March last year, and turned from a dreamy young child to a mischievous trickster seemingly overnight. He had all the signs of being ready for Class 2 six months before Class 2 started. He's not suffering from it at all. Quite the opposite, this situation has enabled this quiet, laid back, easygoing child to find the leader and trailblazer within himself! There are gifts in the most unusual places sometimes.
OT -
I always love hearing things like this, as my Ds birthday is Sept. 14 and so we are planning at this point that he will also turn 7 at the beginning of his grade one year. I love the idea of giving him that extra dreamy play time, but it does feel a bit uncomfortable at some level, just because that's just not often done in our mainstream environment.

SAHM to two amazing boys
8-21-05
njsummer01 is offline  
#14 of 17 Old 10-30-2009, 12:14 AM
 
sapphire_chan's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 27,052
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Sorry to be cynical, but have they offered you a reason to ignore the first psychologist's assessment? Because the only thing that's coming to my mind is that if he's bumped up they lose a year's tuition.
sapphire_chan is offline  
#15 of 17 Old 10-30-2009, 04:02 AM
 
Melaniee's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: California
Posts: 3,705
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Here, it seems children within the month of the "cut off" dates (ours are spring) are given much consideration and discussion by the teachers and parents before a decision is made. Having said that, I cannot imagine them putting forth a child that young. They are all six before grade 1 starts, and most turn 7 that year. Even the youngest would be 7 in the spring.

I wonder, what would be the harm in waiting, to your son? I recall joining a group of anxious prospective 'transfer' parents on a tour, questioning how their children would cope in the school when they've already covered some of the material in their prior school. The answer really impacted me. Though the child may find a subject remedial, there are many other areas which they have not even had access to in their prior school. I realize it's somewhat different in your son's case, but though he may have already learned to read, he will have not learned to read the way his class teacher will show which could fascinate him, and are there other areas which he may not be so 'advanced' that could help occupy his interest while this one particular area is a breeze for him? First Grade is a big deal and chalked full of many new topics and experiences, not just reading and math.

Just a thought. Good Luck!
Melaniee is offline  
#16 of 17 Old 10-30-2009, 06:36 PM
 
sapphire_chan's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 27,052
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by Melaniee View Post
I wonder, what would be the harm in waiting, to your son?
Not necessarily for the OP's child, but what happens frequently to kids who aren't allowed to move forward at their own pace is that they end up bored and act out and get labeled as troublemakers. I've even heard of kids refusing to do work that is tedious to them and getting actually held back.

Those were in public school , but if the OP is feeling like the current class is a poor fit for her child then whatever's going on is not being appropriately addressed by the school.
sapphire_chan is offline  
#17 of 17 Old 10-31-2009, 11:38 AM
 
Melaniee's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: California
Posts: 3,705
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
I understand that is the way of thinking in typical schools, but I don't know that it is in a Waldorf school.
Melaniee is offline  
Reply

User Tag List

Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page


Forum Jump: 

Posting Rules  
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are Off