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#1 of 32 Old 09-24-2005, 12:51 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Hey all-

I just toured a perspective Waldorf school today- armed with a lot of info I've read here from lurking. I was really struck by the whole "late reading" thing and kinda want to take issue with that.

On the way to the tour, dh and I discussed our school experience. I was taught reading at a catholic school halfway through kindy- which for me meant age six. In my dh's school, reading was not taught till first grade- for my dh at 6.5 on. So- as of the late 1970's kid's were not taught to read till 6. BTW- both me and my husband were "smarty pants" kids throughout school.


Now the school I toured today said that kids could start kindy as young as 4 (or as late as six) and stay as long as three years before going on to first grade. So "first graders" range generally from 5-7 years old.

This school beagins teaching reading and doing math (ie "formal" learning) between the ages of 5 and 7.

So I don't see how "late reading" is an issue.

IME some kids are ready to read at 5 and some not till 7 or 8. The nice thing about this Waldorf program is is gives some flexibility as to when this occurs, unlike public schools.

Also- in looking at the work of the students I saw a couple pieces of work left out by third graders. They were short paragraphs written in cursive. Now, when I was in third grade at catholic school, we learned cursive. When I went to public school in fourth grade they had not yet done cursive writing.

I'm sure schools vary quite a bit, but I feel like everyone talks so much about "delayed learning" with Waldorf schools, and I think that may be an overstatement. Almost no one is ready to learn concrete stuff at three, and maybe a third of five year olds are really ready for reading.

anyway- I just thought I'd throw it out there. I have very little experience with Waldorf, but I was just supriosed.
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#2 of 32 Old 09-24-2005, 01:08 PM
 
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Originally Posted by mommyofshmoo
Now the school I toured today said that kids could start kindy as young as 4 (or as late as six) and stay as long as three years before going on to first grade. So "first graders" range generally from 5-7 years old.

This school beagins teaching reading and doing math (ie "formal" learning) between the ages of 5 and 7.

So I don't see how "late reading" is an issue.
"Begins" teaching reading is the operative word here. I would suggest to you that first graders probably are not reading by the end of first grade - in fact they are looking at pictures in the shapes of letters - a king standing in an awkward position resembling the letter "K". I would also suggest that 2nd graders are, for the most part, not reading or just barely learning to read. As you say, all schools are different, but I rather doubt 5 year olds are encouraged to read in any Waldorf school.

In my own experience, my son went from no reading at all to reading completely (National Geographic) within about a week - and this happened around age 7 almost 8. One of my children was in 4th grade before reading reasonably well. Again, in my own experience, as a kindergartener in the mid 1950's, I remember learning the sounds and the letters that made them (age 5) and reading by age 6.

I'm no expert, and not a big fan of early reading, and all my kids read well - however, if you are a big fan of early reading, chances are it's not going to happen in a Waldorf school.

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#3 of 32 Old 09-24-2005, 07:16 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I used to think early reading was a good idea- only because I loved reading so much as a kid, and I was quite ready by 5 and a half.

OTOH, one of my brothers didn't learn to read till 8.He had a terrible school experience with reading and finally taught himself to read one summer when he was stuck at home with a broken leg and wanted to read comic books.

what I feel like I'm seeing with the preschoolers and kindergarteners I know is that some parents manage to get the to memorize the letters, and maybe even some sounds- but they don't "read" yet. It seems to me like when a kid is ready, they are ready and at that point it comes very quickly.

I guess some kids are ready earlier than their waldorf school thinks, and they are stifled. However, that happens at every school in all kinds of areas of knowledge.
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#4 of 32 Old 09-24-2005, 07:22 PM - Thread Starter
 
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One more thing about "reading."

When I was in school, we read little early reading books in kindergarten (6 for me) and into 2nd and third grade....

But I woulnd't have been able to read a magazine till closer to 7 or 8. I don't think any of us read actual books till 4th grade or so. And I was an advanced reader. most kids were not expected to read "real" books till Jr. High.

It's just funny how big of a deal this feels like when kids are small, but looking back on it the difference between 6 and 7 is quite small (in terms of time, not maturity.)

My parents were real pushers in terms of acheivement, and looking back I can't help but wonder what all the rush was about?
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#5 of 32 Old 09-24-2005, 09:06 PM
 
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Originally Posted by mommyofshmoo
It's just funny how big of a deal this feels like when kids are small, but looking back on it the difference between 6 and 7 is quite small (in terms of time, not maturity.)
Well, there's a whole thing (that I haven't read up on) about a window of opportunity for brain synapses to form and that waiting too long greatly reduces that window. IOW, according to scientists, children's brains are more ready to learn to read earlier and less ready to learn to read later. It's not that kids can't learn to read later, but rather that the best time for them to learn to read is earlier. Like I said, I haven't read up on all this, but I'm sure there are others on these boards that are up on the science.

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#6 of 32 Old 09-24-2005, 09:56 PM
 
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Forgive me for busting in here. I'm not a regular visitor to this forum, but I've been lurking here for a few days because I'm considering a Waldorf parent/tot program for my toddler. I am a professional reading specialist, though.

I have seen some fairly compelling research suggesting that delaying reading instruction until 7 years old could prevent many of the "reading difficulties" that we see. The capacity to manipulate symbols is a capability that begins to be more fully developed at that age. There are certainly children who are ready to read much earlier than 7, but plenty of children who aren't ready, and pushing them to read too early is setting them up for any number of problems that we call "disabilities" but which are actually the result of pushing reading before a child is cognitively ready.

When reading instruction is delayed, the children who were ready earlier aren't harmed. They generally fully catch up with their peers who were taught at a younger age, and they do it within a year or two. And far fewer children get "left behind" or develop so-called "reading problems."

If a child is clearly interested in reading at an earlier age, I feel they should not be discouraged. I was an early reader, and I learned fairly spontaneously out of my own interest. But I do believe that formalized "reading instruction" should not be the general rule until 6 or even 7.

I can't speak about HOW reading is taught in the Waldorf schools; I don't know a thing about it. I also don't know much about the philosophy of why Waldorf schools teach reading later. I just know that delayed reading instruction does children no harm, and definitely helps many children.

I can dig out the studies if anyone's really interested. It would require some effort, but I'm willing.

Anyway, thanks for letting me crash your thread. You may here from me more later, if I decide to go the Waldorf route with my child.

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#7 of 32 Old 09-24-2005, 09:57 PM
 
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Well, there's a whole thing (that I haven't read up on) about a window of opportunity for brain synapses to form and that waiting too long greatly reduces that window. IOW, according to scientists, children's brains are more ready to learn to read earlier and less ready to learn to read later. It's not that kids can't learn to read later, but rather that the best time for them to learn to read is earlier. Like I said, I haven't read up on all this, but I'm sure there are others on these boards that are up on the science.

Pete
I have heard of that for language. There is definitely a "critical period" for acquiring spoken language; it occurs between 6 and 36 months. But reading? I have never heard that before.

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I have heard of that for language. There is definitely a "critical period" for acquiring spoken language; it occurs between 6 and 36 months. But reading? I have never heard that before.
Thank you Llyra!!! It's always great to have an informed opinion. I'd love to see the studies you mention above because the delayed reading thing has caught a lot of criticism and it would be nice to have some facts. It is my understanding that there may be some controversy here - early reading vs late reading - among various groups. Again, I'd love to get some solid info so we can at least put this issue to rest. Thanks again!

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#9 of 32 Old 09-24-2005, 10:51 PM
 
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Isn't there also something in Waldorf about waiting for the permanent teeth to erupt before teaching reading? I have always been curious about that because both of my older children spontaneously "got" reading just after they lost some of their baby teeth and permanent teeth erupted (when they were each about 6 1/2).

Also a retired (non waldorf) public school teacher I know, that taught 1st grade in the 1960's and 1970's, said they all waited for the teeth to erupt before trying to teach a child to read. She said this wasn't anything she learned in teacher training but all the teachers just "knew" it worked better this way.

Is there any scientific basis for this, or is it just coincidence that teeth erupt 'around' the time children are ready to read?

 
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#10 of 32 Old 09-24-2005, 10:53 PM
 
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OK, so I popped over to Google and typed in Delayed Reading in Schools and got this website and report:

http://www.sreb.org/programs/srr/pub...g%20Reform.pdf

which contains the following statement:

"In addition, research on brain development indicates that there are “windows of opportunity” for the development of certain brain functions, such as reading. Both the brain research and the research on preventing reading failure suggest that it becomes more difficult to learn to read after about age 10."

So now at least I know I'm not crazy...

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#11 of 32 Old 09-26-2005, 08:36 AM
 
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At our school, the Kindergarten is really more of a combined preschool and Kindergarten. Children can attend from the age of 4 to 6/7. Our soft cut-off for 1st grade is 6 by the June 1st before schools starts with June and July birthdays considered after teacher evaluation for 1st grade readiness. The public schools around here are 6 by September 1st of the school year. So children entering our Waldorf school in 1st grade are 6 or 7.

No letters or numbers are taught in Kindergarten. Parents are asked to not start teaching their children to read but if a child shows interest in letters or numbers or reading, we are also told not to discourage the child from learning on their own. First grade starts with the introduction of letters - consonents and then vowels and numbers - arabic and roman. Simple words for reading are introduced at the end of 1st grade. In 2nd grade, the children are reading lots of words and simple books. My child is reading the BOB books after a month of 2nd grade. My older child began reading long chapter books by the beginning of 3rd grade.

In my both of my children's classes in 1st grade, there were children who could already read and some that did not know their letters. Our teacher told us that she expected every child to be reading fluently by the end of 3rd grade. For some it would come sooner and for others later. She was also on the look out for reading difficulties such as dyslexia. Several children were identified with reading difficulties by the end of 2nd grade and are receiving extra tutoring. In the 4th grade, the class as a whole is reading The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe together.
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#12 of 32 Old 09-26-2005, 01:54 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Rhonwyn
At our school, the Kindergarten is really more of a combined preschool and Kindergarten. Children can attend from the age of 4 to 6/7. Our soft cut-off for 1st grade is 6 by the June 1st before schools starts with June and July birthdays considered after teacher evaluation for 1st grade readiness. The public schools around here are 6 by September 1st of the school year. So children entering our Waldorf school in 1st grade are 6 or 7.

No letters or numbers are taught in Kindergarten. Parents are asked to not start teaching their children to read but if a child shows interest in letters or numbers or reading, we are also told not to discourage the child from learning on their own. First grade starts with the introduction of letters - consonents and then vowels and numbers - arabic and roman. Simple words for reading are introduced at the end of 1st grade. In 2nd grade, the children are reading lots of words and simple books. My child is reading the BOB books after a month of 2nd grade. My older child began reading long chapter books by the beginning of 3rd grade.

In my both of my children's classes in 1st grade, there were children who could already read and some that did not know their letters. Our teacher told us that she expected every child to be reading fluently by the end of 3rd grade. For some it would come sooner and for others later. She was also on the look out for reading difficulties such as dyslexia. Several children were identified with reading difficulties by the end of 2nd grade and are receiving extra tutoring. In the 4th grade, the class as a whole is reading The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe together.
It seems that by 4th grade (10 years old) any kids who haven't been diagnosed with reading disabilities (not all Waldorf teachers are able to spot these) or haven't "gotten it" have arrived at the end of the "window of opportunity" as described above. As Waldorf allows for slow starters, it is very likely that a child could be in 4th grade and still not reading well. I don't find that to be acceptable. Another problem is frequent teacher turn-over in many Waldorf schools and teachers taking over during this 1st - 4th grade period might not be able to get the kids on board with reading. This is a fairly common occurance in many Waldorf schools because 4th grade is the age parents usually lose their patience when their own children can't read. Focus is placed on the teacher and often the teacher is removed or quits as a result of parent outcry.

Out of my own three kids, two of them had different teachers in the 4th grade than in the 1st. In fact, by 4th grade, one child was on their third teacher and one was on their fourth. With that much churning going on in the area of teachers, and with that many problematic teachers, it's amazing to me that they learned how to read at all. By the 4th grade in each class, half the students had been removed. It's not always as pretty as some people make it sound.

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#13 of 32 Old 09-26-2005, 01:57 PM
 
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Originally Posted by lauren
Isn't there also something in Waldorf about waiting for the permanent teeth to erupt before teaching reading? I have always been curious about that because both of my older children spontaneously "got" reading just after they lost some of their baby teeth and permanent teeth erupted (when they were each about 6 1/2).

Also a retired (non waldorf) public school teacher I know, that taught 1st grade in the 1960's and 1970's, said they all waited for the teeth to erupt before trying to teach a child to read. She said this wasn't anything she learned in teacher training but all the teachers just "knew" it worked better this way.

Is there any scientific basis for this, or is it just coincidence that teeth erupt 'around' the time children are ready to read?
I don't know about scientific basis, but in Waldorf, the "change of teeth" (age 7) is an important incarnational milestone that is the threshold to learning to read. Human life is divided into 7 year periods according to Steiner. The next milestone is puberty (age 14). And then, of course, age 21 (the age one can legally drink) - (OK, just kidding).

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#14 of 32 Old 09-26-2005, 03:10 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by Rhonwyn
At our school, the Kindergarten is really more of a combined preschool and Kindergarten. Children can attend from the age of 4 to 6/7. Our soft cut-off for 1st grade is 6 by the June 1st before schools starts with June and July birthdays considered after teacher evaluation for 1st grade readiness. The public schools around here are 6 by September 1st of the school year. So children entering our Waldorf school in 1st grade are 6 or 7.

No letters or numbers are taught in Kindergarten. Parents are asked to not start teaching their children to read but if a child shows interest in letters or numbers or reading, we are also told not to discourage the child from learning on their own. First grade starts with the introduction of letters - consonents and then vowels and numbers - arabic and roman. Simple words for reading are introduced at the end of 1st grade. In 2nd grade, the children are reading lots of words and simple books. My child is reading the BOB books after a month of 2nd grade. My older child began reading long chapter books by the beginning of 3rd grade.

In my both of my children's classes in 1st grade, there were children who could already read and some that did not know their letters. Our teacher told us that she expected every child to be reading fluently by the end of 3rd grade. For some it would come sooner and for others later. She was also on the look out for reading difficulties such as dyslexia. Several children were identified with reading difficulties by the end of 2nd grade and are receiving extra tutoring. In the 4th grade, the class as a whole is reading The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe together.
In my experience, this schedule is about the same as was taught in public school when I was a kid. I was in private school till third grade, and we did do a few things a bit faster.

From what I've seen and heard, the result by third or fourth grade of a Waldorf education is at least equal to most private schools and advanced when compared to public.


The other thing- in most schools- the vast majority- kids change teachers every year. That is the norm all Across the USA. While it is great that Waldorf schools try to keep kids with the same teachers, the fact that a kid may change teachers a few times isn't really so strange.
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#15 of 32 Old 09-26-2005, 03:30 PM
 
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Originally Posted by mommyofshmoo
In my experience, this schedule is about the same as was taught in public school when I was a kid. I was in private school till third grade, and we did do a few things a bit faster.

From what I've seen and heard, the result by third or fourth grade of a Waldorf education is at least equal to most private schools and advanced when compared to public.
I think if you really research this, you will find that Waldorf students are behind in these grades. Even some Waldorf schools warn against switching from Waldorf to other private or public schools during this period because kids are behind in academics. Check out a few of the FAQ's at Waldorf schools. This is even hinted in the AWSNA (Association of Waldorf Schools of North America) FAQ (with a nice spin of course):
"Children who transfer out of a Waldorf school into a public school during the earlier grades probably have to upgrade their reading ability and to approach the science lessons differently. Science in a Waldorf school emphasizes the observation of natural phenomena rather than the formulation of abstract concepts and laws. On the other hand, the Waldorf transferees are usually well prepared for social studies, practical and artistic activities, and mathematics."
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The other thing- in most schools- the vast majority- kids change teachers every year. That is the norm all Across the USA. While it is great that Waldorf schools try to keep kids with the same teachers, the fact that a kid may change teachers a few times isn't really so strange.
That's misleading I'm afraid. It is INTENDED in public schools that teachers change every year. The schools are set up for this and children are expected to be at a certain reading level at the end of one year and ready to move to the next at the beginning of the next year. Teachers in Waldorf schools are EXPECTED to remain with the class for the full eight years. When a teacher is replaced before the forth grade, it is almost always due to incompetence and parental concerns about what, if anything, is being taught to their children. There is no prepared transition, as with public school, between teachers and children within the first four years of grade school may be at various stages of academic development that would normally be monitored by their teacher (in the best of circumstances) and at the discression of the teacher to a great degree. So, no, it is not the same thing as a public school at all. And in the case of a Waldorf school, it is usually left to the parents to identify and focus attention on a teacher's poor performance - often against incredible resistance. There are no standards and no expectations in place like a public school. If kids don't read by 4th grade - too bad... maybe they will by the 5th.

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#16 of 32 Old 09-26-2005, 03:55 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I find it interesting the idea that when a child looses baby teeth is when they are ready to learn. I lost my first tooth the summer when I was five, and by the end of the summer I was making lists of words I knew how to read. My preschool hadn;t taught academics- but I'd watched a lot of sesame street. :LOL

Because I was an early bloomer (puberty was pretty much over by 14, not starting) I may have been somewhat frustrated by a school that delayed formal learning. But I wonder what would I have gained.

I would argue that I lost some valuable things due to being an early reader. I received praise and adulation from teachers and parents alike about how "smart" I was even though my reading skills were just accellerated like everything else in my body. As a result school was easy and rewarding, and I learned quickly how to memorize things and do well on tests- thereby getting more praise.

I learned to study what I could do well in rather than what I liked. I didn't bother to work with other kids on projects because I knew I'd do best if I did it myself. I didn;t give much thought to who I was or where I was going, because I was good at school and that's all that seemed to matter.

People talk about all the damage that is done to kids who are put on the slow track in school, and develop low academic self esteem, but I think that quite a bit of damage is done to kids who learn faster as well.

I've started to ramble- but I think there is a desire in each of us for our kid to be an academic superstar and to be reading Dostoyevsky (or at least spelling it) in kindergarten. However, I don't think being able to do that has any real impact on a person's life long term.
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#17 of 32 Old 09-26-2005, 04:05 PM - Thread Starter
 
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It is INTENDED in public schools that teachers change every year. The schools are set up for this and children are expected to be at a certain reading level at the end of one year and ready to move to the next at the beginning of the next year. Teachers in Waldorf schools are EXPECTED to remain with the class for the full eight years.
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I completely see your point. I guess I have just been very suprised at how little kids can learn at public school. While parents at any school can have frustrating and difficult times with teachers, I think kids at public school are way more likely to have serious literacy problems by JR High and onward than kids at Waldorf, or any private school.

I can totally imagine the frustration that can occur witht the Waldorf curriculum, but public schools can be very, very bad. the public school my brothers and I went to was considered one of the best in the country and one of my brothers didn;t learn to read till after third grade- when he taught himself. He had a learning disability that none of the teachers seemed to notice.

I'm just saying that public schools can be just as bad academically, without any of the good stuff.
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#18 of 32 Old 09-26-2005, 04:08 PM
 
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I find it interesting the idea that when a child looses baby teeth is when they are ready to learn. I lost my first tooth the summer when I was five, and by the end of the summer I was making lists of words I knew how to read.
And then there's the whole "Wisdom Teeth" question :LOL
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My preschool hadn;t taught academics- but I'd watched a lot of sesame street. :LOL
Oooo that's a no no in Waldorf circles. Actually, I watched it with my niece when she was very young. She learned to read by watching it and is a straight A student in college now. Go figure...
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People talk about all the damage that is done to kids who are put on the slow track in school, and develop low academic self esteem, but I think that quite a bit of damage is done to kids who learn faster as well.
Well, we can only speculate about the road not taken. I was very bright as a kid, and chose never to do homework. I skated through school and never really applied myself. Graduated high school with honors anyway. I only took enough units in college to stay out of Viet Nam. Would I have been better off as an academic? Who knows?

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#19 of 32 Old 09-26-2005, 04:11 PM
 
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Just realized I posted this in the wrong forum

Jen, former attorney and now SAHM to 11 yo ds and 8 yo ds

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#20 of 32 Old 09-26-2005, 10:12 PM
 
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I've done quite a bit of research on the reading issue. I have also worked quite a bit with struggling readers (not at Waldorf schools), and the delayed reading thing was something that I really wrestled with before we chose Waldorf.

I disagree that brain research has demonstrated there is an ideal-window for learning to read. The popularly cited findings were from "educational research", based on school-based population sampling and statistical measures of students, not on any clinical analysis related to "brain" development.

The research did find that unless reading failure is remedied by age 9, the odds were very high that struggling readers would suffer academically throughout the rest of school. The researchers formed very specific theories why, none really having to do with brain development.

The first explanation offered is that by age 9 (traditionally about 4th grade), the student who is still struggling to read will have a long-established pattern of failure. The student develops both bad coping habits (as in guessing or picture clues), as well as a strong aversion to "try" to learn anymore.

And the second explanation is that traditional education is heavily structured to deliver key subject material from textbooks (even math). A student who can't read at grade level is unable to master the material in the textbook readily. They can't read well the questions on tests, they can't read and understand written instructions well either. When the education is structured to *depend* on a certain reading skill, and the education also linear and dependent upon on mastering prerequisite skills taught in earlier grades (as is typical in math and science), the student's poor reading skills are a serious impediment throughout all the academics, and there's little time to "catch up" on five or more years of previous coursework.

I'd say that this latter problem, the textbook and reading issue, isn't the problem in Waldorf that it would be in traditional education. But as far as the first scenario, with bad reading habits and feelings of failure, this can still happen in Waldorf if the teacher doesn't try to diagnose why a particular student is struggling. Sometimes it's because they aren't quite eager and ready. Sometimes there are learning disabilities that should be addressed. And I think that by 4th grade, Waldorf students too can start to think they're "dumb" if they can't read. So Waldorf isn't 100% reading wonderland. So much does depend on the one teacher.

But this whole "ideal window" research discussion really only pertains to one aspect of reading anyway--reading mechanics. Even this research failed to uncover any clues about dealing with poor reading comprehension. This is just my own opinion based on what I've seen at our school, but I'm astounded by how well the students do in this regard. In my experience from public schools, there's been for some time a very troubling 'flattening' of comprehension skills which you start to see about 4th or 5th grade, at about the point where the 'mechanics' of reading have been nailed down though the student should be continuing to build skills with fluency and vocabulary. I suspect it has quite a bit to do with all the oral storytelling that Waldorf children are exposed to. Waldorf education really is rich in that regard. Also later readers develop less of the word "barking" problem that is sometimes seen in too early readers. Word "barking" describes the situation when students can say the words perfectly, but can't cognitively follow the narrative, and may not even know (or care) what the writing means. These are children who get used to "decoding" sounds that are completely divorced of meaning because they're coded abstractions, without story, without substance.
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Word barking is when students can say the words perfectly, but can't cognitively follow the narrative, and may not even know (or care) what it means. These are children who get used to "decoding" sounds that are completely divorced of meaning because they're coded abstractions, without story, without substance.
This reminds me of a quote from A Fish Called Wanda:

"Apes don't read Nietze"

"Yes they do, Otto, they just don't understand it."



I very much agree with your points that marginally delayed reading can have severe consequences in the traditional school setting due to feelings of failure and the way information is presented and tested.

In the greater sceme of things, though, I don't know what we think is to be gained from reading at, say, age five versus age seven. If a child lerns to read at four or five- will they be happier? more balanced? As adults, will they earn more money? Become famous? Learn the meaning of life?

Most studies are based on later academic development, not really on long term success (whatever that means.) From that point of view, it's hard to know what to think.
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#22 of 32 Old 09-26-2005, 11:02 PM
 
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In the greater sceme of things, though, I don't know what we think is to be gained from reading at, say, age five versus age seven. If a child lerns to read at four or five- will they be happier? more balanced? As adults, will they earn more money? Become famous? Learn the meaning of life?
I agree with you - it's not about seeking out some fantastic gain from early reading - it is more about diverting some potential harm from late reading. All my kids learned to read late and are reading fine. My niece learned to read early and she's reading fine too. The concern comes from the diagnosis of reading problems and when that diagnosis will occur - and how can an early diagnosis be made on a late reader? And wouldn't it be better to diagnose a reading disability early rather than late? That's my primary concern.

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The concern comes from the diagnosis of reading problems and when that diagnosis will occur - and how can an early diagnosis be made on a late reader? And wouldn't it be better to diagnose a reading disability early rather than late? That's my primary concern.

Pete

I agree. The only problem is that even when reading is taught early, it can be difficult for teachers to tell what is a true reading problem and what is just a variant of normal. I think most teachers realize that many kids aren't ready to read at five and might not really "get it" till closer to seven or eight. But at what point do they make that call? I imagine that diagnosing reading problems at 5 would lead to gross overdiagnoses, but OTOH, waiting till 8 or 9 to assess a true problem may have long term consequences of one kind of another.
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In my experience, this schedule is about the same as was taught in public school when I was a kid. I was in private school till third grade, and we did do a few things a bit faster.

From what I've seen and heard, the result by third or fourth grade of a Waldorf education is at least equal to most private schools and advanced when compared to public.


The other thing- in most schools- the vast majority- kids change teachers every year. That is the norm all Across the USA. While it is great that Waldorf schools try to keep kids with the same teachers, the fact that a kid may change teachers a few times isn't really so strange.

This is the way it used to be in public schools. Many of the public schools now expect children to begin reading in Kindergarten and if they aren't reading by 1st grade they are considered slow. It is many public schools that are pushing reading earlier and earlier. It is really insane. We don't expect all children to walk by one. There is a range of 10 months to 15 months. Why would they expect reading to be any different?

The approach to reading was one of the reasons we chose Waldorf. And yes, it does depend on a teacher that is on top of things and also parents that are too.
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And then there's the whole "Wisdom Teeth" question

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My preschool hadn;t taught academics- but I'd watched a lot of sesame street.

Oooo that's a no no in Waldorf circles. Actually, I watched it with my niece when she was very young. She learned to read by watching it and is a straight A student in college now. Go figure...
Forgive me fellow Waldorf posters for I have sinned...

My public school system was so poor that I had to watch 'The Electric Company' in order to teach myself to read. :

Waldorf mama to 5yo b/g twins
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The concern comes from the diagnosis of reading problems and when that diagnosis will occur - and how can an early diagnosis be made on a late reader? And wouldn't it be better to diagnose a reading disability early rather than late? That's my primary concern.

Pete
Good point, Pete. I can only report that at our school, we have begun looking at students for special needs and remedial support at earlier and earlier ages. We have had whole faculty and specialized individualized training on non-waldorf things like Orton Gillingham and braingym, and our kindergarten teacher is in the remedial education program at Sunbridge college, which she reports provides a broad range of useful tools to help identify chidren likely to need extra help in the future.

We also have a faculty person, a class teacher of some fifteen years experience, who screens new grade school students and meets with families and teachers to discuss the needs of particular children. We also conduct reading screenings on all third graders.

David
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Good point, Pete. I can only report that at our school, we have begun looking at students for special needs and remedial support at earlier and earlier ages. We have had whole faculty and specialized individualized training on non-waldorf things like Orton Gillingham and braingym, and our kindergarten teacher is in the remedial education program at Sunbridge college, which she reports provides a broad range of useful tools to help identify chidren likely to need extra help in the future.

We also have a faculty person, a class teacher of some fifteen years experience, who screens new grade school students and meets with families and teachers to discuss the needs of particular children. We also conduct reading screenings on all third graders.

David
I know I've told you this before - but I wish my kids were at YOUR school.

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Good point, Pete. I can only report that at our school, we have begun looking at students for special needs and remedial support at earlier and earlier ages. We have had whole faculty and specialized individualized training on non-waldorf things like Orton Gillingham and braingym, and our kindergarten teacher is in the remedial education program at Sunbridge college, which she reports provides a broad range of useful tools to help identify chidren likely to need extra help in the future.

We also have a faculty person, a class teacher of some fifteen years experience, who screens new grade school students and meets with families and teachers to discuss the needs of particular children. We also conduct reading screenings on all third graders.

David

This sounds very similar to some the things our school is doing too. I like the Kindergarten teacher having the extra training.
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I know I've told you this before - but I wish my kids were at YOUR school.

Pete

Pete, I know someone can only do so much and that everyone has to pick their battles or what they are going to focus energy on, but have you considered approaching your school with some of these issues? I know you have approached them about some things but I wonder if it has been your manner of approach that has caused them to become defensive and make things so frustrating to you.

Is there some way for you to present options that other Waldorf schools are using successfully to help make your school better? I don't know, there may be too much water under the bridge but if there is something you feel passionate about such as identifying children with reading difficulties, maybe if you presented what other Waldorf schools are doing to address this they would be more accpeting of this.

Of course, your children may be older so your focus may be elsewhere.

There are things that I would like to see done differently at my school and I have actually found his forum at times, to be a great way to find out how other schools are addressing issues and then take that back to my school.
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Pete, I know someone can only do so much and that everyone has to pick their battles or what they are going to focus energy on, but have you considered approaching your school with some of these issues? I know you have approached them about some things but I wonder if it has been your manner of approach that has caused them to become defensive and make things so frustrating to you.
I'm sure it has. I pretty much have my hands full making sure children aren't hurt. I know it sounds horrible, but it's true. My "battles" are often making sure abusive people are noticed or bad or dangerous situations are corrected for the future. My biggest battle right now is an abusive (to parents and staff) administrator that just has to go. He is central to of many of the school's problems.

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Is there some way for you to present options that other Waldorf schools are using successfully to help make your school better? I don't know, there may be too much water under the bridge but if there is something you feel passionate about such as identifying children with reading difficulties, maybe if you presented what other Waldorf schools are doing to address this they would be more accpeting of this.
Believe it or not, my way is working. I've tried asking nicely, but that doesn't work in a very rigid school. I've been there 13 years - I wasn't always critical. Since I've started being critical, they have made countless improvements including much improved school safety and after-school safety, creation of crisis, hiring and evaluation committees, change in governance, weekly Anthroposophy classes for new parents and the removal of teachers who needed removing. That's a lot - and it's all stuff that needed to be done, but they hated doing any of it and it would not have been accomplished without my public criticism - I am sure of this. I'm not involved with the reading programs as my kids are older. But the school, after two AWASNA reviews (going back to 1998) still hasn't produced any kind of computer lab for the high school - and the science lab is a complete joke. There are lots of changes still necessary. None of them will happen unless the administration is shaken up - and so that's where I'm concentrating my efforts. And that's why the battles with me are so heated - because I am dealing with people who have the power to make my life miserable.

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Of course, your children may be older so your focus may be elsewhere.
Exactly!

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There are things that I would like to see done differently at my school and I have actually found his forum at times, to be a great way to find out how other schools are addressing issues and then take that back to my school.
I agree. For me, I don't have much choice. I'm an outsider - basically because of the administrator - and while my intentions are good, I have only one way to institute change available to me from the outside. Public criticism. It's not as if they're rushing to invite me onto the board of directors.

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