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#31 of 43 Old 04-05-2004, 11:14 AM
 
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Waldorf is based on child development and is not child led, especially in the lower grades and Kindergarten. Children are introduced to ideas and concepts when they are developmentally ready for them and are asking for them. The progression of the grades follows the progression of mankind (mostly western but good teachers bring in many other cultures).

In Kindergarten it is all fairies and gnomes and other magical creatures. The stories are in general the more gentle fairy tales. The children have a very structured day and learn by imitation of their teachers. There are no academics and the children are free to use their imaginations during free play time.

In 1st grade, the children are ready and asking to learn reading and math. They want to go to school but they are still making the transition from Kindergarten. Stories center around fairy tales. Our teacher included tales from Brer Rabbit which the children enjoyed immensely.

The rest of the grades go as follows:
2nd grade - Saints Tales, Aesop's Fables, Hero Tales (American folklore and heros from other lands), Santa Lucia holiday and other saint's holidays; 3rd grade - Old Testement and Jewish Holidays; 4th grade - Norse tales; 5th grade - the Greeks; 6th grade - the Romans; 7th grade - middle history; 8th grade - last 100 years and current events. Each of these meet a need in the child at that stage. I have been told that the Old Testement is covered in the 3rd grade because children are at the 9 year change and they see things very black and white. They are very into justice and injustice at this point and the stories in the Old Testement resonate with them.

As the children progress through the grades, they have more say in what and how they study but in the lower grades it is all presented to them at the right time.

In regards to the religious aspects, the school is a spiritual school more than a religious school with different religions being stressed at different times. In Kindergarten and 1st grade, it can seem very Pagan with all the fairies and mother earth, etc while 2nd grade can seem like Catholic school with all the saints tales. I am sure 3rd grade can seem very Jewish. Many of the Jewish families are looking forward to 3rd grade! It isn't like church where you go and are told to believe such and such. Fairy tales, saints tales, Old Testemant tales, etc. are all told with the same reverence for the spiritual.

In many cases, charter Waldorf schools are watered down versions because a lot of the spirituality has to be removed because of seperation of church and state. I have heard that AZ waldorf charter schools are the most like private Waldorf schools because their charter school laws are more liberal and the population is more conservative and do not object to the religious stuff. CA is different with even less spirituality in the Waldorf charter schools. But I would say, Waldorf light is better than no Waldorf and if it is free, even better!
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#32 of 43 Old 04-06-2004, 03:40 AM
 
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Originally posted by Rhonwyn
Waldorf is based on child development and is not child led, especially in the lower grades and Kindergarten. Children are introduced to ideas and concepts when they are developmentally ready for them and are asking for them.
I have to disagree with this. Ideas and concepts are introduced when Steiner believed it was most appropriate. Not every child grows and develops at the same speed. Right now DS is 2.5 and he's very interested in reading and learning about letters, but he won't learn them at his steiner school for years.
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#33 of 43 Old 04-06-2004, 09:18 AM
 
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My child's teacher adjusts the curriculum to meet the developmental needs of the children in her class. Thus, in 2nd grade they are covering materials that are normally not introduced until the 3rd grade. She is very in tune with her class.

Yes, in Kindergarten there is no reading and writing and a child asking for it at 2.5 would not find that there. Some children are ready at 2.5 but many when introduced too early burn out on it and develop an aversion to reading later. Learning to read earlier has not proven to effect reading ability or passion for reading later in life. Most children have caught up with early readers by 3rd grade. It is amazing to watch the kids in 2nd grade go from reading very little to reading books at the 4th or 5th grade level. My child is now reading the My Father's Dragon series all on his own. This fall it was all Sheep in a Jeep stuff.

In Kindergarten, the teachers did not discourage parents from teaching their children to read and learn letters but they asked that everything be balanced with plenty of free play and stories read aloud to the children or even better, telling stories. My child loves science and always wanted fact books. He was so one sided though. His teachers asked us to balance the fact book with two story books (we always read 3 books at bedtime). So we limited our child to one fact book and the other 2 books had to be story books. This brought a lot more balance to our child who now readily reads fact and story books on his own. So I would say if your child asks while you are reading a story, teach him/her at that moment. Let him/her learn his letters but I would skip workbooks and such. Also, just because your child asks for it doesn't always mean they are ready for something. Give them a little but don't go overboard.
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#34 of 43 Old 04-06-2004, 07:33 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally posted by Rhonwyn
... and the children are free to use their imaginations during free play time.
Thanks Rhonwyn - you seem to know quite a bit about the waldorf philosophy- would you mind addressing the issue of imagination? My child and i were playing in her parent tot class. she found a ball of fluff and we started a game that revolved around her bringing the bunny queen's tail back. it was fun! i took a quick peek in the animal basket and couldn't see a bunny - so i grabbed a horse. i mean, they're croched so they're pretty generic and we could've cared less. but the teacher came over and interuppted our came to help us find a bunny. it stalled the game and it just fizzled after that. really no biggie, but the teacher has done similar things and it kind of bothers me - does she think she's just being helpful or does this have something to do with waldorf ideas?
thanks
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#35 of 43 Old 04-06-2004, 08:41 PM
 
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First off, I want to say that I am a parent and what I say here is only from my observations, what I have been told by our teachers and what I have read. I am sure there is variation between schools and I know there is variation between teachers.

I was never in a parent-tot class at Waldorf so I don't have anything to compare it with in that regard. We have been through 5 years of Kindergarten and 2 years of elementary so far.

Having said all that, your teacher seems a bit over the top in regards to the hat issue and weirdly disruptive in the bunny issue. In regards to the hat, our teachers have always offered suggestions if they saw something that needed to be addressed but when we were there in the parental capacity with our children, they would never have insisted on our changing the hat or putting on a coat. They might not agree with us, but they are our children and the teachers respected that. Now when it was just the child and the teacher, they may have insisted on a change of hat or putting on a coat but at that time the teacher is in charge. In regards to the bunny issue, who cares if the animal is actually a bunny or a horse! Waldorf toys are left very non-descript so that the child uses their imagination to make it what ever they want. Hence, the dolls have very simple faces. Trestles can be buses, planes, boats, stores, houses, etc.

I would not judge Waldorf on this one teacher. It seems to me that you and she don't gel which is fine. Kindergarten, if you choose to continue on with Waldorf, is a whole new ballgame. The biggest advantage to doing Parent-Tot is that you come into Waldorf Kindergarten with a background and understanding of Waldorf and so does your child. It is very hard for people to turn off the TV at age 4 (though it can be done! We did!) rather never having the TV on to begin with. It makes it easier to have a Waldorf style at home before you even start school and the kids are better prepared for the transition to preschool-Kindergarten.

Hope that helps!
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#36 of 43 Old 04-08-2004, 07:45 PM
 
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Rhonwyn - yes it does help - I was thinking it might just be the teacher. any program is only as good as the teacher is - and the nursery teacher is different.
I'm wondering what people have to say about transitioning from waldorf to something else - as there is no h.s. here. back in portland there was but not here in san diego - not much to choose from at all
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#37 of 43 Old 04-08-2004, 08:44 PM
 
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I know people who moved from San Diego to Seattle precisely because they wasn't a Waldorf HS in the San Diego area. We have a young HS in the Seattle that draws from all the Waldorf Elementary schools and other schools. A lot of kids from Waldorf elementary do not go to the Waldorf HS. Reasons are: parents need a break from tuition, kids want to try something different, HS is too new, parents want something more college prep, etc.

From what I have seen, most of the kids transition fine from Waldorf elementary to public HS. Often the Waldorf kids think they are weak in math but once they get to public HS they find out that they are at or above level (in general). The Waldorf kids often discover that they are way ahead in areas such as music, art, drama and academic language arts. I have seen a couple so frustrated with the public high schools that they have transferred to the Waldorf HS mid year.

I am not sure what we will do when it comes to HS. By that time the Waldorf HS should be more established so we shall see.
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#38 of 43 Old 04-08-2004, 11:31 PM
 
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My DD is in kindergarden and we are considering Waldolf among other private schools that we have to look into. Does anyone know what the tuition is per a year?
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#39 of 43 Old 04-09-2004, 02:27 AM
 
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r.e. transisitioning to public school we were a bit concerned about this too but the argument (and evidence) that swayed us is that waldorf kids are so incredibly confident after their waldorf schooling that they are welle quipped to make a big change. All the kids I've seen and all the adults i've known who are waldorf educated are definitely confident, secure, and with good self esteem.

bellydancegoddess, it really varies depending on the school and area. I can't say much as we're in england in a city where it's super cheap, almost free, but my friend is just doiwn the road at another school which is way more expensive because they don't accept government subsidizing. i could never afford it if we were still in the US.
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#40 of 43 Old 04-09-2004, 03:22 AM
 
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bellydancegoddess, often you can find out what tuition is at a particular school by checking out their website. The AWSNA website is a good place to find out what schools are near you and what their web addresses are.

I have to second what others have said about the individual teacher making a huge difference in what goes on in the classroom. I've seen everything from near goddess-level teaching abilites to near incompetence, and that's just among the early childhood educators.

Judy mom to Dash (9), Corbin (7) and Will (3) :
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#41 of 43 Old 04-09-2004, 08:22 PM
 
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hopefully we will be going home (where there is hs) because continuity of community is so important to me - that's one of our top 3 reasons for choosing waldorf nursery - because we can hopefully move her into grades with the same school and many of the same kids. but ... really wanted child led education - i don't like the authoritarian feel of waldorf sometimes ...
thanks for letting me think out loud - it's an important and complicated decision - seems everything is just getting more complicated!
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#42 of 43 Old 04-09-2004, 09:34 PM
 
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My waldorf experiences go back to the sixties. At 14 I started at the school in LA, Highland Hall. That was my 14th school because we had moved around so much. I really liked it, even though there were definitely plenty of problems. The school was still in pioneer mode, housed in some awkward buildings, the class I went into had had multiple teachers and was pretty messed up and many of the teachers didn't really know what they were doing.

It was still incredible. For the first time in my school career I encountered organized, thoughtful, creative teaching. It was so great to get away from textbooks. I don't know if anybody has noticed, but some of the worst writing ever is in school textbooks. I love history and the history teaching at the WS was the best ever.

Well, I left and then my brother and sister attended for a few years. They have, I think, fond memories of their time at the WS. This is particularly amusing in regard to my sister, who is a fanatical born-again Christian. She has simply decided to think of the WS as good, in spite of having an "incorrect" spiritual background.

A few years later my daughter started at the same school. She went to Highland Hall from the time she was 3 until she completed 7th grade. At that point we moved to rural Missouri and she started public school. Midway through the year she was so disgusted with the quality of the education that she asked me if we could home school. That lasted 1 1/2 years, then she went to the Toronto Waldorf School for 10-12.

She certainly hasn't been handicapped in life by her WS education. She is an environmental engineer, specializing in water quality. She supported herself through 6 years of college at a variety of jobs. Currently she is a stay at home mom with 2 children, running a home day care. She is also on the local WS board and is planning to send her children to the school. My 4 year old granddaughter is currently in the nursery and loves it.

I've had some interactions with PLANS over the years and must say I find them prone to distortion (to put it very mildly). They like, for example, to take quotes out of context. Certainly, some Steiner quotes can sound awful by today's standards, but they are concentrating on excerpting only the bits that support their case. Two paragraphs on, in the same lecture, may be a passionate statement opposing nationalism or sectarianism.

Final note: waldorf schools vary and waldorf teachers vary and it is up to the parents to make sure that your children get the education you want them to get. Ask questions and raise concerns and find out as much as you can about how the school works and where the potential problems lie.

Deborah
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#43 of 43 Old 05-05-2004, 11:17 PM
 
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Hi Megin,

I am considering Waldorf school for my little girl, but there are still doubts in me concerning the nature of the teachers. To explain; I'm in a group, here in Montreal, to open a public Waldorf school. There is something about the people in the group, which makes me very uncomfortable, as if they were above me. Will it also be like this in the school? Will my voice remain numb in front of these people who have answers to everything?

Also, I would greatly appreciate knowing exactly what it is you are searching for in education, which waldorf does not provide.

Thank you so much. Éléonore
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