Waldorf Questions- when to start? Preschool worth the cost? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 7 Old 07-31-2014, 05:39 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Waldorf Questions- when to start? Preschool worth the cost?

I am so glad to have found this forum. I have been contemplating Waldorf education for about a year. I've had so many questions, concerns, observations that I've wished I could just speak to a group of Waldorf parents to discuss. I had no idea such a forum was available!

I have a 4 year old son who is enrolled in a co-op preschool very near to our home (non-Waldorf), for just 2.5 hours 2 days a week, starting in the Fall. We did the same program last year & he was very happy there. I feel, at this time, nearly 80% confident that I want my son to attend Waldorf from 1-8th grade. I, however, am having some issues with the pre-K, Kindergarten years.


He's attended a few days of "summer camp" at this Waldorf school this summer. I am so enchanted with the school & the program. My son adores it. The art work he's came home with brings tears to my eyes, I love how active and playful he is during the day and all the aspects of Waldorf.

Pre-K: It's $7,200 for 5 days of 1/2 day Pre-K. It's a lot of money for our family. Additionally- we have several prescheduled trips during the school year this year that would take him out of school for about 6-8 weeks throughout the year. It seems to be even more money once you consider how much school he'll be missing.


I also wonder, when the alternative is that he'll be home with me & able to enjoy one last year of mommy & son time before school starts in a more regular schedule, if Waldorf in preschool is worth the cost? However- early-childhood is what Waldorf seems to do the BEST, so then it seems like I'm putting him at a disadvantage by not experiencing Waldorf in preschool.

The next concern is related to Kindergarten. Our Waldorf only does full-day Kindergarten. I'm pretty opposed to starting the Kindergarten year off in a full day, every day, routine. I don't mind if we have a gentle transition into full day, but I don't intend on doing full day until maybe half way through the school year. The school has agreed to work with me on that, allowing him to attend on a half day basis until we're comfortable moving into a full day. However, I would still need to pay the full day tuition. As such, I'm not certain if Waldorf for Kindergarten is our best option? There are other private schools near us that do "transitional Kindergarten", where everyone in the class slowly adjusts to full day. Rather than having my son be the only student at Waldorf that isn't doing full day Kindergarten, one of the other private schools seems like a nice option.

If we start Waldorf this fall (for preschool), it seems logical that we would definitely stay for Kindergarten as well. I wouldn't want to do Waldorf preschool, then go elsewhere for K, and then back to Waldorf for 1st grade.


I apologize for the long rant of my thoughts & concerns. I would love to hear from other Waldorf moms about how you would handle such a situation. How do you feel about the cost of Waldorf for preschool? Is my son going to lose significant overall Waldorf advantages by not going to a Waldorf preschool? Thank you
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#2 of 7 Old 07-31-2014, 07:27 PM
 
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Take this with a grain of salt, I am not a Waldorf parent, but Waldorf would likely be my preference if I did not plan to homeschool grade 1+.

It seems a great investment in your child's foundation, to invest the year in family time and the wonderfully rich experience of travel (you mentioned vacation). You are able to give him that year with you, so many other parents wish they were in that position, and would gladly do it if they could. No need to rush this time in his life. He has 12+ years ahead of him. If you are concerned about the value of preschool look at the large studies, the largest being UC Berkeley Preschool study.

Per kindergarten, I agree full day is too much unless he is already accustomed to daycare or being away from you for extended periods daily or you need the child care. Half day private school may be a better option. Again you won't get this time back again once the ball starts rolling. First grade is full day.

Check your state laws first, many do not require education begin until age six, some later. I live in New Jersey where kindergarten is not required and children may begin education at age six.

Per grades 1-8, Waldorf seems like a great choice. I would definitely consider it if in your shoes. But for those early years less school, more time with you, friends of all ages and family, and of course daily life in your community, Waldorf 1-8 all the way though, it could be a wonderful choice.
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#3 of 7 Old 08-06-2014, 10:27 AM
 
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Hi. I would say hold off on the pre-k and enjoy your time together. Early Childhood is about rhythm, the seasons of the year and exploring the natural environment. Your child will never be at a disadvantage for having this time with you! Books like Simplicity Parenting and homeschool materials can help you with structure and activities. Or you could just wing it.
You may not know this but the early childhood was a late add-on to Waldorf education. The first school started with grade 1.

When the time comes, you may be surprised how ready your child is to go to kindergarten full day. The kindy teachers are really, really good at helping young children transition into school. The homey-ness and structure of the classroom helps a lot with this. I don't think that I would do kindy elsewhere and then come back for first grade. It is such an important transitional year to first grade and the more time the teachers have to observe him the better. Also, so much in Waldorf is aural. Your child will need practice building up his aural skills to participate fully in 1st grade group work. No other school that I am aware of puts this much emphasis on listening and memory/recall so he could be at a disadvantage in 1st grade if he hasn't done that kind of work before. That being said, kindergarten circle time should be enough to get him ready - don't feel compelled to do pre-k if it is not right for you financially and in terms of your schedule.

Best of luck!
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#4 of 7 Old 09-10-2014, 12:28 PM
 
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I'm a little late in responding, but I just wanted to say that I paid full tuition for kindergarten, but kept my own schedule. I wanted to do things like ski, etc., with dd before it got harder to play hooky once grade school started for her. The kids don't really notice much when a child leaves early or is absent. The teachers handle it beautifully. It happens a lot...doctor/dentist appointments, illness-related absences, etc. If it's not a big deal to the parent, the kids are usually just fine.

Also, dd is now in 2nd grade, and ds is in nursery. I would take issue with EC is what Waldorf does the best. I love, love, love Waldorf EC, but Waldorf schools can also provide an amazing grade school experience. I am frankly in awe of what they do in Waldorf grade schools and often wonder what all the fuss is about. And yes, she can read!
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#5 of 7 Old 04-16-2015, 11:50 AM
 
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Just following along in case anyone else has any input. I'll be SAHM for the first time, my daughter is 2.5, and then we're thinking we'd like to put her in a Waldorf 1-8, I was contemplating when we should start her. She is used to being in daycare all day, but I'd really like to have some time with her now that I'd be able to. It sounds like starting her in Kindergarten might be a good idea.


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#6 of 7 Old 04-16-2015, 01:21 PM
 
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Our Waldorf school has a mixed ages Kindergarden for three to six year olds with the option of attending five, three, or two days either full or part-time. To enroll in Kindergarden here a child needs to be 2.5 and potty trained. The required age to start school in my state is six. Our school also has a parent-toddler program for children under 2.5. (The other local Waldorf school does their early childhood slightly differently and separates the Kindergardeners (5-6) from the preschoolers.)

I currently have a first grader (7) and one enrolled in K (4) part-time (3 full days per week). My first grader did one year of five days per week full-time Kindergarden. Prior to that she did various non-Waldorf preschool options in our former state, mostly because *I* needed her out of the house. My four-year-old did two years of part-time non-Waldorf daycare prior to starting Waldorf (this year). The daycare she attended prior to potty training had similar rates to the Waldorf K tuition and, while a good daycare, we are all so much happier with her in Waldorf and it's more in line with my values (particularly regarding food).

Waldorf strongly prefers the students to turn six prior to starting first grade. At our school the cut-off for turning six is May 1st, others it's Easter. My kids have October birthdays, but I know many children with spring/summer birthdays whose parents were encouraged to have them turn seven prior to beginning first grade. My daughter turned seven in October and she's by far not the oldest child in her class.

Waldorf first grade is VERY different from "regular" first grade. I won't say that a child would be at a huge disadvantage skipping Waldorf Kindergarden (particularly if they had Waldorf-style homeschooling for K), but I think it would be much easier for them to adjust to the rhythms and expectations of a typical Waldorf first grade classroom if they had the preparation of one year of Waldorf K first. The children who HAVE done Waldorf K will be familiar with the routines, rhythms, stories, songs, etc. that make up a typical day in the lower grades and have had a lower pressure chance to internalize the rules and expectations of Waldorf teachers.

Our mixed ages Kindergarden is wonderful. There are no academics, it's EXTREMELY consistent, and the older children get to develop mastery/competence by assisting the younger ones. My daughter spends the majority of her school days outdoors. Most of the actual "instruction" takes place in the first half of the day. The second half consists of lunch, a story, nap time, and then outdoor play (in almost ALL weather, including rain and snow, and it gets cold here).

Several of my first grader's classmates only did half-day K five days a week for one year. Others have attended Waldorf beginning with the parent-toddler classes and it's not unusual for children with two working parents to spend three to four years in the K program. Our youngest will attend K part-time for two years and then do five full days the year she turns six in preparation for first grade, which is the preference of her teacher (at least one year of five days). A year of K is a gentle way to get a child used to the idea of spending an entire day in school/away from home. Even though my first grader's class has a ton of recess and pretty much all of her lessons involve dance/movement, it has still been adjustment for them to transition to spending so much time at desks doing written work. On the plus side, that's been the MAIN transition since they were already familiar with being at school every day and even got a chance to have one lesson each week with their first grade teacher last year (who will be their teacher through eighth grade).

IMO, the main benefit of enrolling children under six in Waldorf is if it's an alternative to daycare and the child would otherwise be in paid childcare rather than at home. K has definite advantages for the six-year-old planning to enter a Waldorf first grade, but years spent in the early childhood program is by no means necessary. If an individual school requires full-day K, I wouldn't worry about it since it's SO different from your typical K (my daughter gets more outside time/physical activity in K than she does at home), but if a half day is an option for saving money, like I said, the majority of the real instruction at our school at least happens in the first half of the day.

If you have any questions I can answer let me know. We're on our second year of Waldorf as a family and loving it. It's so great to watch my first grader blossoming and LOVING school and learning to read at her own pace. My favorite part is NO HOMEWORK in the lower grades ;-) Also, at our school, a neat thing is that if you have two children close in age they often are able to be in the same K class. My youngest was stubborn about potty training, so we didn't have this experience, but many of her classmates are siblings born within 1-3 years of each other. This seems to majorly help the little ones transition.
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#7 of 7 Old 05-28-2015, 01:03 PM
 
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My twin nephews went to a Waldorf school for a few years. There are pro and cons. I have a lot going on, so maybe you could ask specific questions.

My sister and brother-in-law ended up leaving their Waldorf school in Seattle for a variety of reasons. After I make dinner wink I can share their story a bit, if you'd like...
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