Tell me what to do re: Waldorf vs. Public Preschool - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 9 Old 07-15-2004, 12:31 AM - Thread Starter
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I'm serious. I have a dilemma about Violet's schooling and I need people to pick a side and then tell me to do it, LOL. No wishy-washy opinions. Ok? Ok. Here goes. For those of you who don't know about V--she is hearing impared with a significant speech delay due to late diagnosis. She was in Waldorf and the other preschool this past year, but it was too much for me. Plus, I'm having a baby in October/November.

I can't decide where to send Violet to school. It's either the Waldorf school in Tacoma or the public preschool in Vaughn (Tacoma is 30 mins away in good traffic, Vaughn is 5 mins away).

I'm gonna list pros and cons for each and you weigh them, then tell it like it is--I want to her your unabashed opinions.


Education philosophy is aligned with what I believe
Love the teachers
The school is full of hippy, crunchy families like ours
The community of the school is really supportive and loving
The festivals are fun and there are fun, interesting, different parent nights each week
Mike is on the board of directors
I have photography gigs throughout the year
The children are different; they are more thoughtful and and critical thinkers.

It is $300 a month
Violet receives no special education services
Violet would be in a kindergarten class with kids ages 5-7. She'd be the youngest. The kindy teacher says she wants Violet in her class because she feels a special connection with her, but I think it also has to do with the fact that there will be an assistant with sped training and she doesn't want Violet in a class with two new teacher (the younger class has two new teachers).
It is 30 mins away in good traffic. It's more like 45 mins away in realistic traffic. Not only that, I would have to stay for the three hours because I'm not going to drive home each day. I'd have to either work (with a newborn and Zoe) or stay at the school and hang out 4 days a week. There would be a room I could hang out in.
All the kids are white, upper/middle class with no special needs

Public Preschool:


It's very close
The lead teacher is really nice and so are several of the paraeducators.
She gets speech therapy (but see the related "con" below)
She would interact with a more diverse population of students
It's free


The educational philosophy doesn't jive very well with me
There are a lot of kids but many teachers/paraeducators
Her speech therapy isn't one-on-one; it's group and doesn't impress me very much
The community isn't as strong
I don't feel as supported by the other families/teachers

Regardless of where she goes, she'll be back in private speech therapy. I'm just taking her education on a year-by-year basis right now--that means I could go back to Waldorf when the other kids get older.

What do you think?

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#2 of 9 Old 07-15-2004, 01:55 AM
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I would go Waldorf, no wishy washy here :-)) you can also have your child in an "alternative" shcool and apply/demand/deserve services offered by your local public school (at least here in Hawaii) but I can see how the drive alone would seem like a deal breaker!what about carpooling - is that an option both in your area and with Violet and her needs? also dig at that school to see how/if they could address some of your concerns - do they know of any trained Theraputic Educators (Waldorf "special ed") or call the Seattle school (I don't know how far that is, but they might have some more ideas that could help support you at this decision making time). good luck!!!
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#3 of 9 Old 07-15-2004, 08:46 AM
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Hi Jesse! Just listening to the "tone of voice" of your descriptions, it seems like you are so much more excited about the prospect of the Waldorf school, and the distance seems like the main factor. Taking out cost, if they were both 5 minutes away, what would your choice be? (not that $300 is something to sneeze at!) It just seems your heart is in the Walford school, so does it make sense to try to figure out the details of the drive and the 3 hours to spend, etc.? If she will stay in this school after k-garten, does it make any sense to move?

I hate making decisions like this for my family--it just tears me up. I hope it gets clearer for you soon.

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#4 of 9 Old 07-15-2004, 09:56 AM
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Ok, you say no wishy washy answers, right?

I would go with public school. Ds is signed up for Waldorf preschool right now but I have some ambivalence about it. If he had any special needs I would definitely NOT do it. That being because Waldorf is not flexible in it's approach and a child with special needs is not able to get their specific needs met. I say this after talking to a mother of a deaf child who sends her hearing child to waldorf, and her deaf child to a special school. And also a school psychologist who has said that Waldorf schools do not have the capability to deal with special needs children and she has seen kids be asked to leave at a certain age when their difficulties are too much for the school to handle.

It's also so darned expensive in the US and having a special needs child is expensive in itself. I think I would take that $ and use it for outside therapies & support.

All that said, I don't know you or Violet and of course you should trust your gut. Good luck!
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#5 of 9 Old 07-15-2004, 10:48 AM
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Is Lily going? Any chance of a car pool?
I would keep her there if you can swing it. If she went to aftercare for an hour a day, would that make the time long enough for you to go home?
Best of luck and I wish I could see your belly progress!
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#6 of 9 Old 07-15-2004, 11:44 AM
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Hey Jesse,

That is such a hard decision, but I think what the last person said made the most sense, about saving the money for outside therapy. Either that, or move back to civilization.

I think you and your beautiful girls get a lot from living out there. Maybe you should try to create community in the community you live in? (I know, so hard, no time, etc)

Maybe she can go to Vaughn until you guys move back to Tacoma? Then you will be closer and she will be caught up by then?
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#7 of 9 Old 07-15-2004, 01:50 PM
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For me, the choice would be the public school. First, I'd worry about her being the youngest in K. This is tough for most children and especially so for one wiht SEN.

Group speech therapy can work really well at this age. I've been involved with a group programme which didnt look impressive at first, but after a year, the change in the group was dramatic, and test scores (which I am not a fan of, but they are an indicator) across the board, improved significantly for all children. If she's still having individual speech therapy, I"d try out the group and see if it works for her now she's older.

LInks with SEN services earlier rather than later, The wheels turn slowly, and the sooner you are hooked up, the better for your dd.

The journey. That's a lot of time out of her young life that could be spent on better things! I decided against a preschool because of this very reason recently - I didnt want dd or her sister, or the new baby, to sit in traffic for over an hour each way.

I see it that a lot of the things you are losing, like, crunchy families, are supports for you rather than for her, that you can seek out elswhere - or maintain even if you are not at that school. As you are not burning bridges and can go back, I'd save the time in the car, the $$s, and see how it works out. This is a big year for your dd, and I believe that starting K too early for SEN children can have long term effects that are difficult to undo.

Interestingly, I just spoke to a friend about my own preschool dilemma. She has a son who is now 9 and sounds very similar to your dd. Her one big regret was the choice of preschool for him. He did much better in the P/S than the private nursery she paid such a lot for the first couple of years. He had gruop speech therapy plus individual SEN support, plus she got support from local services once he was in the P/S. That was not available to her - or not readily available - until he was in the PS.

Good luck with your choice!!
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#8 of 9 Old 07-18-2004, 11:59 AM
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I don't think I have enough information to make a decision. What's the public school like? What's the student/teacher ratio in the class she would be in? What is the school's idea of inclusion? Do they even offer inclusion? Have you met the teacher? Is she the type of person with whom you can work? What's the over-all atmosphere at the school? Is there an active PTA or other parent-led group? What are the other parents like? Would you feel welcome at the school- is there an open door policy? Can you sit in on classes before or after your child enters the school?

I think, because of how far away the Waldorf School is, I would seriously consider the public school. If, however, the answers to the above questions came back in a way I did not like, I would bite the bullet and drive the 45 minutes every day.
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#9 of 9 Old 07-18-2004, 04:53 PM - Thread Starter
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What's the public school like?
The preschool is housed in two portible classrooms connected together. It is next to a huge gym that is the ugliest green you can imagine. The school proper (the actual elementary school) is new--this section of the campus is the old, outdated section. The playground equipment is new and they have their own section of the playground.

What's the student/teacher ratio in the class she would be in?
One sped teacher, two paraeducators and about three teachers in training from a community college. There are about 30 kids in the class.

What is the school's idea of inclusion?
The class is mixed with sped and regular ed kids. Each kid belongs to a color group. The sped kids all have blue dots on their name tags. When they have to go to therapy, the "blue dot" kids go away and the other kids continue on with their day. I really hate this kind of labeling. Other than that, the regular ed and sped kids do the same stuff.

Have you met the teacher? Is she the type of person with whom you can work?
The lead teacher is great. I like her and feel like I can talk to her. That being said, she is a public school sped teacher and is very, very busy. My kid isn't any more or less special than any other kid.

What's the over-all atmosphere at the school?
It's pleasant and mainstream, if that makes sense. I like it for many reasons--my biggest reason for not wanting V there is that the teaching philosophy and community isn't aligned with my thoughts or lifestyle.

Is there an active PTA or other parent-led group?
Yes, there is an active board. The only problem is that my dh is on the board at Waldorf and is committed for at least a year.

What are the other parents like?
I've connected with a couple (read: have had two playdates), but notheirng like the Waldorf school.

Would you feel welcome at the school- is there an open door policy?
Can you sit in on classes before or after your child enters the school?

I feel welcome, yes. I've sat in on classes and it's fine--even good--for what it is: mainstream public education. The therapy is mediocre. Violet is more aggressive when she goes to that school--the kids and thier play is just not quite what she is used to at Waldorf.

I had a long talk the other night with some folks from Waldorf. I'm trying to figure it all out. I'm so torn.

Then there is another option: a school in SEATTLE for deaf/hh kids. They focus on oral language skills and it sounds like a dream. It's 1.45 hours away, though. If it's intenstive therapy I want her in, that would be the school.

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