How do you choose one Waldorf school over another? How different can Waldorf schools be? - Mothering Forums

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Old 11-21-2012, 10:27 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Assuming that we have already decided on Waldorf [which we are 90% certain of, as it just seems an extension of our home life], I have no idea which school we'd choose. I didn't realize they could be so different, so I naively assumed we'd just go to the one closest to us!

 

How different can they be? I realize that a school is a reflection of the community, so I understand that obviously schools will be different in that regard.. but I mean for the larger issues. I feel like I don't even know what to ask on the tours. What sparked this was reading here how social learning ["discipline"] was handled and the relation with that and karma in Anthroposophy. 

 

We've been going to our local Waldorf school' parent/toddler class where they intervene and give the children the language tools needed to express themselves. "Please stop. I don't like that." "You can have a turn when I'm done." "No thank you, I want to play alone right now." And I love that. But.. does that stop at a certain age, or in the "no disciple" schools, did it never take place at all? 

 

Also, I am not at all versed in Anthroposophy, and I've heard and read some bizarre things pertaining to that, of course.. but I just find it all difficult to believe, honestly. I mean - I'm sure there are some questionable beliefs [in regard to the racism] in Steiner's writings, but I'd never expect that to be in the schools. 

I don't know. Blah. 

 

Our options:

There are 2 established private Waldorf schools, 1 that is in the process of accreditation and just expanded their preschool / kinder to include 1st and 2nd grade this year [and will be adding grades each year until 8th], a Waldorf charter that I'm honestly not that interested in, and a small public school in the middle of a redwood grove with mixed age classrooms and all the teachers are Waldorf certified.

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Old 11-21-2012, 11:40 AM
 
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How awesome that you have multiple schools to pick from! You are on the right track to making a decision--get involved and ask questions. Waldorf schools differ just like other schools do. A lot of the character of the school is dependent on both the faculty and the parents (they do have an important part in running the school, after all). As far as the "big picture" goes regarding Anthroposophy: yes, all Waldorf schools will have a basis in Anthroposophy. Trained Waldorf teachers have taken classes in the philosophy, and will have varying degrees of belief in its principle. However, a well-run school should not be "indoctrinating" parents (and especially not children) in Anthroposophy. It's a background, guiding philosophy for the educational movement.

 

 I've never experienced a "no discipline" school that you refer to. The level of gentle guidance and discipline you've had at your local school is what I have seen myself. That's not to say that "no discipline" schools don't exist, but I really haven't experienced that myself. How discipline is handled in the classroom is an excellent question to bring up with the schools that interest you.

 

 It seems that you are happy with the school you are attending for parent/toddler classes now...why not stick around? You could ask to observe a few kindergarten classes so that you can see the classroom on a "normal" day outside of an open house.

 

 Finally, I suggest that you take what you read online about Anthroposophy with a grain of salt. There are some kooky ideas within the movement, but it is not nefarious or a cult as some may have you believe. Remember that the voices of the dissatisfied will always outnumber those of the satisfied, especially on an online forum under the safety of anonymity.

 

 Good luck to you and your family!


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Old 11-22-2012, 10:29 AM
 
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I agree with knittygritty on all these points. There are certainly major differences in schools and their communities. The private schools are naturally limited socio-economically, but it sounds like the public school in your area may serve much the same economic range. It's definitely worth looking at the schools; go to an event or two (concerts, plays, festivals) and you probably will fairly quickly discover which is right for you.

Do be vocal if you see that there is insufficient consciousness and/or guidance with playground supervision, etc. ...at any school, playgrounds and locker rooms are the flash points. Waldorf is no exception to this, in my experience, but teachers have been responsive when concerns are brought to their attention.

To your concluding point: non-white students at our school who have previously attended other schools often express relief at the lack of student-generated segregation at Waldorf, where the pupils are pretty much all friends. At the local public schools, racial groups seem to mix neither in class, nor in the lunchroom, nor on the playground.
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Old 11-23-2012, 05:04 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for the input ladies. Good points, indeed.

 

The one reservation I have about the school we've been taking the parent/toddler classes at is the minimal outdoor space they have. It's the school I mentioned that is just opening up. I asked if this was their permanent location or if this was a 5-year lease or something, and they said they had no plans to move in the next 10 years. But.. my backyard is bigger than the space they have, and they have no trees. Just "perfect" level grass and 2 small raised garden beds. Hmn.. I'll have a visit anyway to see how that works, but I'm not so sure. 

 

And the public charter option is in bungalos on a blacktop, I've recently learned. All their nice website photos come from weekly visits to a local park. Boo. And the public option in the forest is still great, just.. a drive into the mountains. Doable, but still subjected to standardized testing and all that.. another "hmn.."

 

The two private options both seems nice, but one is very much more Anthrop-minded. Their application asks for much more detail about my pregnancy, nursing / weaning history and child's sleep habits. Although I'm not afraid of Anthroposophists, it does make me wonder if they may [imo unfairly] judge my child and our family for bedsharing, and continuing a full-term positive nursing relationship. The other private option doesn't have a very impressive retention rate, which just makes me wonder. So.. I guess none are perfect, and I'll just have to look into each further and get involved, and make a decision after a few visits. We need to get on the waiting list a year prior to enrollment.

 

Oh, and and after reading a bit more of the Waldorf critic sites and the support thread, I have come to the conclusion that I am no longer worried about all those "scary things" I have heard. Although we aren't Anthroposophists, our spirituality is more in line with Taoist principles and neo-pagan celebrations, and our belief system is strong enough that I am comfortable with celebrations of a belief other than our own. And imo, a lot of those complaints seem to stem from [1] people not realizing that Waldorf is more than just playsilks and wood toys, [2] bad teachers and admin exist, and sometimes they ::gasp!:: Waldorf schools aren't immune to them!

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Old 01-13-2013, 10:17 PM
 
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each school can be very different... I have visited many Waldorf Schools (military family) and some places I decided to not even bother because it was essentially like a public school, minus the technology. Now we are back in So Cal (where we are from) and I have 3 schools to chose from, 1 is known for having a high turnaround with staff AND students, the 2nd is one I would be okay settling with and the 3rd has a beautiful campus, and I always am reminded why i choose waldorf whenever I visit... Overall, best option is to do a walk through the grades, if available, or tour during school hours and take time to observe in each grade level to see how the school runs, as a whole. 


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Old 01-17-2013, 02:04 PM
 
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Originally Posted by aHikaru View Post

each school can be very different... I have visited many Waldorf Schools (military family) and some places I decided to not even bother because it was essentially like a public school, minus the technology. Now we are back in So Cal (where we are from) and I have 3 schools to chose from, 1 is known for having a high turnaround with staff AND students, the 2nd is one I would be okay settling with and the 3rd has a beautiful campus, and I always am reminded why i choose waldorf whenever I visit... Overall, best option is to do a walk through the grades, if available, or tour during school hours and take time to observe in each grade level to see how the school runs, as a whole. 

 



You must have been lucky to have been stationed in cities with Waldorf Schools. We are a military family as well and the closest to us is going to be in Atlanta which is 2 hours away:-( I have no other option than sending my 5 year old to a DOD school. It will be a horrible change from his german waldorf pre school to a public Kindergarden class and it scares me. Seems like your kids went to public and waldorf schools as well? How did they do?

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Old 01-20-2013, 11:01 PM
 
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You must have been lucky to have been stationed in cities with Waldorf Schools. We are a military family as well and the closest to us is going to be in Atlanta which is 2 hours away:-( I have no other option than sending my 5 year old to a DOD school. It will be a horrible change from his german waldorf pre school to a public Kindergarden class and it scares me. Seems like your kids went to public and waldorf schools as well? How did they do?

i've only done parent child classes in the past and have chosen to homeschool for two major reasons, 1) we move every 6 months and/or travel every three months to visit DH or Family, depending who's farther away 2)1st grade is $15,000+, so i'd rather keep that money at home... we still visit waldorf schools for fairs and events, and to shop for waldorf items :)


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