how do i know if waldorf is right for us? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 10 Old 12-07-2004, 04:29 PM - Thread Starter
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i know the obvious answer is to visit the school, and we're going to do that...
but i am such a planner and my son starts kindergarten next fall and i don't know where he'll go. i've been having some anxiety about it.

anyway, when he was a baby i looked into waldorf and was very impressed with what i saw. then i (groan) looked at the waldorf critics site and even some real waldorf sites (i don't want to start a debate here! i am not trying in anyway to insult anyone's choices, i am just sharing my thoughts here) and some of the ideas were so foreign to me that i forgot about it and my son went to a montessori school starting at 2.5. now he is 4.5 and is still there. K is next fall.

but i started looking back into waldorf and a lot of it really speaks to me. it seems to really keep the child's innocence and, well, childhood intact. it seems to really form a good foundation for becoming a well-adjusted, well-rounded person, as much as a school can do anyway. i am very impressed by the middle school and high school academics and what they do in the lower grades and K.

i've been reading some stuff on about anthrosophy and it really goes over my head. i know they don't actually teach it to the children. the stuff about lucifer and ahriman i don't really get either and i would be lying if i said it doesn't worry me a bit. but i am thinking that this is something the teachers learn about to learn more about where steiner was coming from and it's not really taught to the children? i am not concerned with no black crayons and fairies, etc--i understand where they're coming from on that, i think.

i only know one other person irl who is interested in waldorf, so i don't have many people to talk to about it, and have so much energy to discuss this...

i know that rhonwyn and deborah in particular have defended waldorf like crazy here and i hope they don't think they have to defend it to me...i'm just interested in learning more...
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#2 of 10 Old 12-07-2004, 07:56 PM
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Hi Mamaley,

Well, I know a lot of people who have happily had children go through 15 years of waldorf education without ever getting into anthroposophy, so it is possible to pull it off.

Perhaps you should make a list of the things you like about waldorf education and see if you can find them anywhere else. Bring them into your home life for example.

Then you can make a list of the things that worry you about waldorf and do some specific research. I don't mind helping you find resources on particular questions and Rhonwyn might also be willing to help.

Then turn it around. Look at the things that attract you about waldorf and see if the school you are thinking about does a good job with those particular pieces. Are the teachers actually good at waldorf style academics for example?

Again, with the stuff that worries you, look at the school. Is this stuff a large part of what goes on in this particular school?

I'm not suggesting a huge amount of work, although it probably sounds like it. I think what you need is to get in touch with your gut feelings and bringing up various things that either attract you or worry you will give you a chance to sort of assess your gut.

One thing I've experienced, is that waldorf impulses sometimes come from the child. One kid I met told me about going to a waldorf open house when he was maybe seven or eight years old. He told his mother that was where he was going to go to school and kept pushing until he got there. When I met him he was about 15 or so, and very happy with his choice. Another mother I know told me about sitting in her car with her daughter, trying to decide if it was the right school (she had a lot of doubts), and her daughter said "Mom, that is where I am supposed to go." Again, she was right.

So, take your child to a waldorf event and see if they like the atmosphere, tone, toys, teachers. You may get a sense if it is really the right place or not.

My granddaughter adores her waldorf school. She is a child who loves ceremony and ritual (weddings are one of her favorite things) and the orderly, rhythmic, formal quality appeals to her very strongly. They did the winter spiral on Sunday. My daughter told me that today Stella was playing "winter spiral," reenacting bits of it in her bedroom.

I could see these same things that appeal to Stella turning some other kids off completely and not meeting their needs at all.

This is a bit long-winded, hope it helps.


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#3 of 10 Old 12-07-2004, 08:16 PM - Thread Starter
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that helped a lot--thank you.
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#4 of 10 Old 12-07-2004, 10:07 PM
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Mamaley I just wanted to say that I think you express yourself very well, and you seem to come from the heart on what it is you are struggling with. I'm just the moderator and don't have an opinion on Waldorf, but I think you will find an answer, given the spirit you are bringing to it. You may also want to check the old threads in this sub-forum (or perhaps you have already done that).


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#5 of 10 Old 12-07-2004, 10:41 PM - Thread Starter
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lauren--thank you for such kind words
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#6 of 10 Old 12-08-2004, 12:11 AM
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Hi! a happy waldorf mom here, so far. I understand your angst-- making a decision like this is big- it seems huge at your stage of the game. The thing that i keep thinking is that once you do more "homework" on the school in question and then still are wanting to go, to remember that K is one place that you can learn a lot about the type of atmosphere and social climate there. You can learn a whole lot by getting involved on the various committees open to parents and by other parents. At our school its a very close communtiy and if you want to know thngs you have many chances to ask questions. Then, if after that year you dont feel it's working than switching isnt completely out of the question. It could take a little work catching him up on the ABC's - although he's probably gotten that at his montessori school now-but not impossible. Im a strong believer in following your heart. The path will unfold, just take the steps.
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#7 of 10 Old 12-08-2004, 11:45 AM
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No worries mamaley. You are very respectful. Even as a very happy Waldorf Mama, I have twangs every now and then about whether my children are on the right path. I think that is normal for any school you would choose. Especially if you choose a school that is so different than your own experiences (mine were PS and then Catholic HS). Please feel free to ask any questions. I think Deborah's suggestions, as usual, are excellent and a great way to approach the situation. Good luck on your quest!
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#8 of 10 Old 01-10-2005, 08:26 PM
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I have been a Waldorf mom for 6 years and a waldorf educator and still have reservations. This is not to say that we aren't happy. We are. My sons are excelling and are lovely people. I think that it supports so many aspects of childhood that are under served in other arenas (ie, art, music, nature, etc.) The esoteric aspects of the training generally remain outside the classroom (this too is my hang up with the philosophy, I am pretty down to earth) and I have never found my children exposed to anything other than developmentally appropriate ideas. The thing that most people come in conflict with is that the acqusition of certain skills come at a later age when your child attends a waldorf school. Most waldorf children really read sometime between 2nd and 3rd grade. However, they learn so many other things that it hardly seems important. My 4th grade son began to read in 3rd grade and my 1st grader is already starting to read. The best thing about it for us is that generally the education supports our parenting philosophy. We don't expose our children to the screen in any form and it is hard to maintain outside of our school community. I hope this helps a bit. Good luck with whatever you choose. Julia
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#9 of 10 Old 01-11-2005, 12:15 AM
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mamaley, we have just last week started a 3 day Kinder and 1st grader in Waldorf. We took the first grader out of PS and the Kinder was anxious to start doing SOMETHING!

She just told me, "I love Waldorf!"

They are happier and more calm now.. . even their interactions with each other. LOL

We were really 'sold' after attending the St Nicholas Faire in Dec. We had also been to a 'nice' community Christmas event and the kids came home pretty weird and wired and bickering after that.

But after the Waldorf event, they came in and sat on the floor and played quietly together. We were dumbfounded at the difference. We find the Waldorf school so child-centered, with love and respect for the kids and parents and they are really THERE for the kids, not for adults' various agendas.

Last March, I participated in an online course at (Peggg O is in this org), the finale of the course was a conference call with Joseph Chilton Pearce. On the call many of us asked about the different schools. His wisdom was awesome.

I would suggest listening to that call, you can buy an audio download of it for $5 at:

Also, the more you learn about how children NATURALLY develop and about the brain and if you can handle learning the spiritual science (not unique to Waldorf) about how children incarnate, you would likely understand the Waldorf teaching methods better.

There is a lot of good material on the site.

Oh and you are not too early! Some school start enrolling in March.
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#10 of 10 Old 01-23-2005, 01:44 AM
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I was interested in Waldorf because I felt there had to be a better way than the way I was taught in the public school system. I hate standardized testing and the fact that the schools and governments rely so hard on it to measure a childs intelligence and a teachers success.

Then we went to visit our sons waldorf pre-school and felt great about the classroom and what we saw of the teachers interaction with the children. We also became very uneasy with the fact that there were a few light but religious depictions on the walls and an equally light but undeniably spiritual undertone. The blessing for snack definately mentioned god and I knew there would be much to discuss in our home that night. We decided that over all we felt more connected to the philosophies we knew Waldorf embraced than any philosophy that the public school held high. And that we would cross each bridge as we came to it as far as our comfort with the religious aspect of it.

It has been two years since we made that decision and I have to say that it is the best decision we could have made not only for our children but for our family and each of us as a whole person. Waldorf has enriched our lives in the many ways it comes into our home either through our sons, their teachers, friends and other parents. gotta go baby up.

That is not to say we think that it is perfect. It has its issues the same as any school system does and we are not blind to that fact. But the posatives far outweigh the negatives we have seen experianced or heard of.

As to the spiritual aspect of waldorf, well I feel that it is just that spiritual not doctrinated and ingraved in their heads. If going about a daily routine in rythem showing reverence to mother earth, fellow living souls, and Saints who gave food and clothing to the poor is seen as overlyreligious then waldorf isn't right for folks. I am very much opposed to someone teaching my children about religion but that is not what I think they are being taught at their particular waldorf school.

sorry I think that I rambled on a bit, hope that this helps. Best of luck with your search.
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