We are considering a Waldorf school for our 9 y.o. daughter. She is currently in the 4th grade at the local public school. I am interested in any experiences and opinions about transitioning to Waldorf, considering she will move back a grade if/ when she starts the Waldorf school in Sept.. This is a K-8 school and I am concerned that our girl will feel diminished when she transitions back to the public High School in 5 years and is a grade behind her current classmates. I would especially like to hear any personal accounts of this transition back to public school and if there are any Waldorf schools that do not have kids this age drop back a year.
We are considering a Waldorf school for our 9 y.o. daughter. She is currently in the 4th grade at the local public school. I am interested in any experiences and opinions about transitioning to Waldorf, considering she will move back a grade if/ when she starts the Waldorf school in Sept..
Do you know for a fact she'd move back a grade at the Waldorf school? If so, can you share the reason(s)? That hasn't been what I've seen at our Waldorf school, so I'm just curious...
Wendy - aspiring Waldorf handwork teacher, computer geek's wife ,
mom to former 2lb preemie (now 10) & 3x
I have seen children come from other schools who were just so much younger than the rest of the class try to come in, and it just doesn't seem to go well. They would have been so much better suited for the grade previous (the one they had 'completed' at their former school).
For example, here, a child could have started public school kindergarten at age 4 1/2 (it was a Dec 1st deadline, so they just had to 5 by Dec. 1st to be admitted into that year's class). The Waldorf School deadline was in the spring (April-ish, I think it depends upon the school, and some use discretion with the borderline birthdays). And the deadline means they have to turn 6 by that April(ish) date the school year BEFORE going to First Grade. So the very youngest child in the Waldorf class would be nearly 6 1/2 years old before even starting first grade, and this other (fictitious) child would come in not even yet being 6 years old (going by the public school cut off) all for the sake of "not repeating" a grade. Therefore the very youngest in the Waldorf class could still be potentially be 8 months older than this child, and the very oldest, being the May birthdays, over a year older. Speaking strictly from a social standpoint, it can make a very big difference. Then again your child's birthday could fall along the same "grade" in the calendar for both public and Waldorf and would be the same grade in both places.
Am I making any sense with the calendar? I am having trouble following my post, myself. ;)
Yes, we have learned that our daughter will be in the fourth grade again at Waldorf next year. I do understand the philosophy behind having children start later and I would be quite content with this if we had started our daughter in the Waldorf school in the first grade or even second, but I am afraid that if something happens (like we run out of money - this is a BIG stretch for us- or if it just does not work out for some reason and we are unhappy) then our daughter will have to go back to the public school a year behind her current public school classmates. Our daughter turns 10 in August and the cut-off for Waldorf is April.
Thank you for your response
Yes, you are clear and I do understand. I think it is just hard to do when she will "graduate" ( they do that in her public elementary school) fourth grade and then enter fourth grade again in September. She is quite bright and will accept our decision but I am afraid that is we have to quit Waldorf for financial or other unforeseen reasons then it will set her back. She loves her classmates and it is already difficult for her to accept that she will be a year behind them when she returns to public high school in Grade 9. Our Waldorf is K-8. I wish we had found Waldorf earlier.
Honestly, and I LOVE Waldorf, I, too, would be heavily questioning this possible transition were I in your shoes. As soon as you said you are worried you would not be able to pay tuition for the next four years, that sent up a huge red flag to me. If your daughter could progress to fifth grade in W, that would be just fine w/ me, but going back a grade only for the sake of the next four-five years, hmm.. If she stayed in public, she would go to high school in four years. That is a v short time. In W, five years. Longer, maybe worth it, but only if I were *certain* about the financial commitment, ONLY b/c of the year set-back. Has the school itself said point-blank that your daughter could not go on to fifth grade? I completely understand Melaniee's explanation, but this is not about a first-grader who is entering school for the first time, this is someone who has already completed fourth grade. I'm not liking the age-based transfer policy, personally. Unfortunately, I know that W is heavily age-based, but still. Would you also be paying a whole year's tuition for her to learn basically the same stuff again? Ugh.
DD (4.25.08) DD (4.23.10) DD (10.13.12)
Our daughter is NOT happy about the idea of "repeating " the fourth grade no matter how we present it to her and she is upset about the idea of leaving her established base of friends. She is up to par academicaly and is avid as a reader and with dance and music and can do handcrafts. She does have a hard time focusing on the mundane tasks and the force feeding style in the public school arena and is starting not to like school. I am sure she would thrive in Waldorf. As i said our financial ground is not solid and we are not young parents. (53 and 61). We will be having our official interview soon and all our concerns will be aired then. I will keep you all posted. Thanks for your responses and I will welcome any more opinions and advice from all.
Sounds like this will be a difficult transition for your daughter, even though you and the school(s) seem to be going about it in a sensitive way. Will many of her new Waldorf friends attend the same public high school too? If so, then there may be less of an issue down the road. Waldorf schools are known for how much their students bond with each other. With your daughter coming in at 3rd grade, she'll have many years with her new friends.
I wonder what you could do to encourage the "make new friends but keep the old" effect? The best case scenario for her would be that she would arrive as a 9th grader with solid friends from Waldorf and even know some of the Sophomores which would, of course, be immensely cool for a Frosh.
As for the other transition issues, I think the best thing to do is just be upfront with the school about your concerns financially and otherwise while still making it clear that you intend to make a strong commitment to this new path. If your school doesn't have an official new parent "buddy" system, I would ask to see if they could hook you up with a buddy/mentor. This person could answer a lot of your questions and offer suggestions. I would also familiarize yourself with whatever framework they have in place for community issues and issues in the classroom. This kind of thing is usually spelled out in the parent handbook. It will be good to know ahead of time what process you will be using in the event that unanticipated issues come up. Finally, I would even ask to schedule a meeting X many months into the transition to see how it is going for all parties. (I would do this separately from regularly scheduled parent-teacher conferences since there is so much going on for the teacher at that time.) Best wishes to you. This sounds like it is a less-than-ideal situation right now but if all of the adults prepare beforehand it could end up being a wonderful thing for your daughter!