My daughter has always been ahead of the curve (she was speaking in sentences at 14 months. only now that i have another little one, do i realise how advanced my first born was/is).
She was at a cutting edge private school with a huge endowment specifically for teacher training. She placed ahead of her class and was grouped with kids 1-2 years older than her. She was learning, and seemed relatively intellectually satiated, but we made the decision to switch her to a Waldorf Kindergarten as her attention started to wane.
story telling is through intricate and beautiful puppet shows, skits are performed routinely that tie into special ceremonies like birthdays, children learn to swing on a real rope swing (as opposed to cookie cutter physical structures), they cook and help with the cooking, finger knit, and learn eurythmy.
They listen to stories that are incredibly language rich. And, when my daughter comes home, she recites these stories verbatim. She said that these stories are different from the ones that they heard in her previous school (Stewart Little..etc) because they really make you think.
The children identify their cups, baskets, and cubbies by a symbol that the teacher assigns them. Not names.
Alphabet rote memorization is NOT the waldorf way. Turns out that they have already begun introducing language through story telling. Tales that are so rich in imagery and verbage.
Apparently when they do teach the alphabet, it is going to be done in a way that taps into all the faculties (an established method of instruction) and something our teacher said had me intrigued: she said, that at the Waldorf they teach the alphabet in a way that is intuitive so you are not having to do the mental gymnastics of ..uhh what comes after M? which I still do..
reading or writing is NOT looked down upon at all. Our classroom teachers said that for the period of time betoween 8:30-1pm when the kids attend Kinder, they are not exposed to printed material. However, pretty much every child in her class signs and writes their own name...something that was shockingingly not at all the case in her previous top rated private school.
I am about as hard core of a scientist as one can be, and academics is my sole passion in life. My daughter displays the same tendencies, and there is a good chance she will follow the same path. I think that Waldorf will get her there with the beautiful sense of wonderment they infuse through their curriculum, that is undeniably required if one wants to be a scholar of life.
I also like how they tap into all the different senses to drive home a lesson. Work sheets bore me to tears. And, to me it seems that a multi-faceted reiteration of the same material keeps the study material fresh and fun to learn. I have a life long love affair with learning and research, and I hope that my girls become life long learners too.
I know this is an old thread, but I thought I'd add to it in case someone is still hunting for answers with a similar question. We have 6yo boy-girl twins, who were both tested during Kindergarten last year at their local public school as gifted. I was similarly tested as highly gifted as a child, and their father is no slouch academically either...we knew that it was always likely our kids would be academically inclined. We actually found that being more academically able than their peers (they were in a composite class with 2 higher grades and still blew through all the work) actually caused problems - they were being given just more and more and more work in the teacher's bid to *keep them engaged*, but it was offered in a bubble and out of context (because of course she was busy with the rest of the class), worked to alienate them from the other kids in the class, and ended up with some horrid bullying that caused intense emotional and social upset for my 2 bubbly, happy, otherwise-very-sociable children. Plus they were ending up with so much homework and *enrichment* work (which let's face it, unless done incredibly dynamically - and this wasn't - is really just homework sheets for the parent!) that it almost seemed to have the effect of making Cole and Imogen anti-school and anti *boring meaningless work*.
We considered various options - including a high achieving, academically driven private school - but decided to try Steiner in a bid to allow our children to develop more as *whole people* (let's face it - if you're gifted then you can pick up academics at any time, and with ease - it's the socialisation, the emotional and psychological development that is tricky, that can't be rushed and that often gets overlooked with children who display such a propensity for academia....which can cause all manner of grief later in adulthood)
We shifted them at the end of last year, so they got 8 weeks in a steiner kindergarten before moving to class 1 this year.
I could not be more happy with our decision - and neither could Cole and Immy. This just really works for us - there is plenty of opportunity to be active, to use your body, develop your sense of creativity and nurture your sense of joy and wonder in all around you...without the single-minded focus of getting-through-the-work and test scores etc being the only thing of importance. The stories and lessons offered are rich and deeply layered, and always very well tailored to the child's development. There's also a big focus on the natural world - getting out into it, appreciating it and our part within it.
That said - I think it all depends on your Steiner school - we just happened to hit the jackpot! Linuwel is definitely Steiner, but not as rigid and dogmatic as it seems some others are, and there is plenty of space allowed for individuality to shine through! Their teacher knows that they are both fluent readers, and whilst the class is still learning their alphabet, the lessons are presented in such a contextual, enriched manner that both children are interested and enjoy these lessons - they're engaged and stimulated and aren't bored to tears by it all (I confess I was a little nervous about this!)...and then they come home and will often curl up with a book to read to themselves! Their teacher is very accepting of everyone having different talents and encouranging of that being a good thing. I think now I can see there is too much focus on reading right from the get go in mainstream education - and once it's acquired, the focus is on shovelling in factoids and data as fast as possible, without nearly enough attention to context and the development of the whole child.
Cole and Immy started back today at school after 2 weeks off for the end of term 1, and both kids were counting down the days until they got to go back...and I like to think we had a fun, enjoyable break, with plenty of time together and a few exciting adventures...it's not like we kept them locked in the cupboard for 2 weeks, ha! The fact that they so look forward to going and so love being there speaks volumes to me. That and the fact that I think it's increased their creative desires, if that's possible...gawd knows there not a cardboard box or paper roll that goes unmolested in our house!!! :)
I guess I just wanted to add my 2 cents' worth - that if you are looking for an option for a gifted child, discounting Steiner schools completely would be a mistake. It all depends on the school itself, but you just might find a gem like we did where your gifted children can truly blossom!
The pace of learning at our particular school has not worked for my children (very unfortunately, as I still really like the theory upon which steiner pedagogy rests, and the execution of the curriculum).
In retrospect it makes sense. Both kids hv inherited an intense thirst for knowledge and are not content with waiting for it to trickle down - ever so gently- as it does at Steiner schools. I felt like a hypocrite telling my child to be patient (while we wait for her physical body to catch up), while my husband and I have always sought out the faster track to gaining knowledge. Even that I could have swallowed had it not been for my daughter's obvious despondency with school because.she doesn't feel challenged. My job is to protect her interests despite my personal preferences for educational methods and she seems to not be thriving in a Steiner school despite liking her peers and teachers.
Our tentative plan is to transfer into a mainstream faster paced academic nnvironment and follow the Steiner curriculum at home to deepen educational concepts.In the end, I think both my kids might want to pursue academic fields and I want to make sure they get schooled in the tools required to be excellent in math, physics, science and language arts. Once this basic schooling has occurred, they are free to choose whatever profession or vocation they might fancy. That's.the basic plan.
So, in a nutshell, for us the *pace* of the curriculum fell short. I cannot speak to the breadth as my.children are still young. But I plan to study the curriculum to see if I can bring the beauty of Steiner curriculum into mainstream education on my own terms.
But the point is, almost all kids are developmentally ready to read by the age of 8. A developmentally ready child will learn to read in about 6 weeks not 3 years. The kids who fall behind in Waldorf in reading have issues that would have plagued them in a traditional school as well. We lengthen the time it takes to obtain fluency by routinely pushing the reading curriculum down to 4 and 5 year olds who in general, are not developmentally ready. Why do we do this when other countries have shown us that later introduction means quicker to fluency and much higher life long literacy rates.
I'm not a fan of all things Waldorf certainly. I think the practice of NOT allowing a child who is ready at 3, 6, 7 start reading is ridiculous. My kids would have fallen apart in such a setting but I'm not going to dismiss everything they stand for when there are some interesting approaches that do work.
Couldn't agree with you more.
The Steiner method has a lot that is sensible and well-conceived. However, in our case, my children are inadequately challenged and unhappy for it. It is not merely the reading or the academics, it is an overall gap that they seem to feel, and so for us, the best method will be to school them traditionally and supplement with Waldorf. The converse would simply not work.
3 houses - 2 blocks in the old neighborhood = 1 eclectic/traditional tribe!
Hi Jolie, We are a Steiner family from Kamaroi in Sydney looking to move to Linuwel next term. I was so happy to hear that you struck gold with the school. I'd love to speak to you more if possible as my little boy would be in the same class. Ive also got another boy that would be going into class 2. I feel that Steiner education works for both my children who are at completely different ends of the academic spectrum.