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#31 of 41 Old 01-14-2005, 03:56 PM
 
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Howdy! I'm a breast-feeding, cloth-diapering, crunchy granola, non-vax kind of a mum-mum to a 17 mo. wonder-boy. I am looking for relatively medium-cost alternatives to the public school system here in NS, where the students in our grades 9 and 12 routinely fall below the national standard for English and math. So, I find myself looking at Montessori or Waldorf (maybe even our local Shambhala School), as long as the price is reasonable (about the same as university tuition ~$6,000/yr).

Is there anyone out there from NS who can commiserate?
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#32 of 41 Old 03-31-2005, 09:37 AM
 
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Is there anyone out there from NS who can commiserate?
You might want to post this on your local tribe thread in Finding Your Tribe. I think you might get more answers specific to your area. And totally OT...we honeymooned in NS! It was wonderful. We're going back with DD this summer!

Great thread! This is just the discussion I was looking for!

~Erin
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#33 of 41 Old 07-14-2005, 02:37 AM
 
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Very interesting discussion and most helpful to me. I have a few questions that I'm hoping someone can help me with.

I am drawn to different things about both philosophies....I've read Rahima Dancy's book, as well as numerous Montessori-at-home manuals...I have the Michael Olaf catalogs... i buy natural toys, have play silks, but also maps on the wall, magnifying glasses & rocks out for my son to investigate...I'm sort of stradding both in my home environment.

My son has a late birthday so I wasn't sweating school choices much...just had him in a play-based coop for socialization. Well, that didn't work out so well. It seemed a bit chaotic to me at times...he kind of tuned out and didn't really make any friends. I should mention that he's very into space, planets, trains, sorting, building, books...but also is imaginative. No real interest in art. He enjoys hearing fairy tales, but mainly likes science books. He can count to 20, sight read some words, knows all the planets & most of their satellites, can say his colors & numbers in Spanish....all of which he picked up mainly on his own.

So that's the background. I'm shopping around for a new preschool for him next year. I thought Montessori at first, but visited a few and found them a bit sterile...I was concerned that fantasy is not encouraged (is even discouraged)...he was already running into troubles about pulling out too many toys or not playing with things in the right way or order (my son is a big one for taking kitchen utensils or musical instruments and turning them into robots or space ships). In the end, it just struck a bad chord with me, and I wondered where the toys were. Besides -- I wasn't ready to send him 5/days a week.

I visited the Waldorf school in the area and I really liked it. We were in a waldorf parent-child playgroup when he was younger & I have great memories of it. I found it very calming, and I was very into fairies and tha stuff as a child, so I could relate. At the experiential morning, my son even painted with water colors, which I can never get him to do at home. He seemed enthralled, played with the gnomes, but did keep asking if they had planets. And I could tell he was wondering where the books were (he's a big one for books -- and there were only 3 or 4 in the classroom.)

I liked the teacher, and the emphasis on outdoor play, and I'm hoping the rhythm and calmness and warmth will be good for him. It's only for 2 mornings/week and I feel I can provide academic stimulation at home (I'm a big one for just following his lead -- though I wonder if even that is counter the Waldorf philosophy).

At the same time, I'm concerned that he'll get bored playing with the tree house & gnomes after awhile...will miss the books and puzzles and marbles and sand & water table and playdough and all the things he seemed to enjoy at his old preschool. Also, now I'm concerned about the whole commitment issue. Can I guarantee we'll be able to send him full time, 5 days a wk...even for KG? No. Maybe. If it seems great, we'll find a way. But I just think-- why not try it for a year or two...until KG. But would this put him at a disadvantage later? I can't see him in public school...he's very active and curious and I can't imagine him sitting in a desk doing worksheets. I'd probably homeschool him first. But I wanted to at least try out Waldorf.But I'm soul searching...maybe this is me liking Waldorf and maybe it wont' be a good fit for him. The alternative at this late date is sending him back to his old school or homeschooling him.

Any thoughts? Am I taking a big risk of wiping out whatever academic advances he's made on his own, and setting him up for a big self-esteem crash if he switches to another school for KG?

Thanks for any advice -- I'm really torn & have to pay our Waldorf tuition this week.
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#34 of 41 Old 07-14-2005, 06:11 PM
 
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Whisper, how did your interview go? Sorry I didn't see your post earlier - we had an interview too, and while it seems totally freaky, for us at our school it was more to ensure that the parents were on the same page regarding education as the school (i.e. we weren't pushy parents and knew something about montessori). I have heard of montessori schools rejecting the parents in essence, not the child - the parents are too demanding or very controlling of their children, which freaks out the school, or don't have any idea what montessori is and what they're getting into.

efwalsh, I think as long as you, as a parent are willing to take on that missing element in some way, then it all works out fine in the end. My daughter went to a fairly old-fashioned Montessori half-days, and then she also went to drama or arts classes, or just had a lot of playdates, or we would do things she was interested in but wasn't available at school (a lot of very open-ended art, for example, with found objects). If at a Waldorf, then you can take him to the library, the local science museum, etc, and explore those elements with him.
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#35 of 41 Old 07-16-2005, 01:04 PM
 
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Originally Posted by efwalsh
Any thoughts? Am I taking a big risk of wiping out whatever academic advances he's made on his own, and setting him up for a big self-esteem crash if he switches to another school for KG?

Thanks for any advice -- I'm really torn & have to pay our Waldorf tuition this week.

Efwash, your post could have described my son to a T at that age. We ended up putting him in Waldorf at age 4. I looked at several Montessori and Waldorf schools and I had the same reaction to the Montessori schools I looked at. What I found happened at Waldorf, is that my son became more rounded. He still loves science, math, etc. but he also now loves or at least appreciates, drawing, painting, drama, handwork (loves knitting) and his creative play is wonderful. I don't think a couple of years of Waldorf will make the transition to public schools that bad. Many of the kids in the Waldorf Kindergartens transfer just fine to either PS Kindergartens or 1st grades. Your son sounds very bright and whatever might be missing, he would probably make up very fast. Also, if you knew he would be transferring say in 1st grade, then the summer before you could quickly bring him up to speed. We were fortunate that we could continue with Waldorf and my son will be in 4th grade in the fall. He is reading at a 7th grade level and his math is right there too. Good luck with your choices! I think you will find that Waldorf can add a nice balance to a very thinking child.
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#36 of 41 Old 07-19-2005, 07:18 AM
 
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Thanks, Rhonwyn -- that's a big help -- I signed our contract today and am very excited to have him start next year
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#37 of 41 Old 07-19-2005, 09:12 AM
 
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I hope your son enjoys it! Good luck!
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#38 of 41 Old 08-04-2005, 10:29 AM
 
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Efwalsh,
if your son is happy and thriving that is the most important thing for now. However if you decide to keep him in Waldorf after KG, going from my experiences, I suggest that you consider all the pros and cons and also be really objective if your son is really still having a positive experience from Waldorf. Since my son was in Waldorf for almost 4 years I can share my experiences with you. Since then I have seen extremes. There are children who really thrive in Waldorf and those who don't at all. I have meet parents who went to Waldorf schools themselves who found the experience so positive that they wished their own children the same experience. On the other hand there are Waldorf graduates had a bad experiences and who would never send their children to a W school. There are people who hate their parents for even sending them to a Waldorf school. There is even a "Waldorf survivor support groups!"(No I we are not in one!)

< I should mention that he's very into space, planets, trains, sorting, building, books...but also is imaginative. No real interest in art. He enjoys hearing fairy tales, but mainly likes science books. He can count to 20, sight read some words, knows all the planets & most of their satellites, can say his colors & numbers in Spanish....all of which he picked up mainly on his own.>

Sounds quite similar to my own son at that time. This is when you need to trust your own judgement. The Waldorf teacher told me that all this was too intellectual for my son and I should stop. Unfortunately I believed her.

<I liked the teacher, and the emphasis on outdoor play, and I'm hoping the rhythm and calmness and warmth will be good for him. It's only for 2 mornings/week and I feel I can provide academic stimulation at home (I'm a big one for just following his lead -- though I wonder if even that is counter the Waldorf philosophy)>

It depends on the school.Some Waldorf schools are more hard-core than others. However some Waldorf teachers would definitely frown on any out side academics at home

<At the same time, I'm concerned that he'll get bored playing with the tree house & gnomes after awhile...will miss the books and puzzles and marbles and sand & water table and playdough and all the things he seemed to enjoy at his old preschool.>

Again, you will have to trust your own judgement! By all means continue with these activities at home regardless of that the teachers tell you! I think the problem with Waldorf is that some of the teachers think Rudolph Steiner was a God and if he did not mention anything in the early 1900s then it is not relevant to you child today.

Another thing is children cannot always articulate their feelings. My son when he got to be around 5 and half became disruptive and refused to participate in the activities. Only later, this Spring, after I finally took him out of the Waldorf School and put him in a Montessori school (and he therefore knew that there was an alternative!) was he able to articulate to me how bored he was in the Waldorf School and how angry he was about it!


<Also, now I'm concerned about the whole commitment issue. Can I guarantee we'll be able to send him full time, 5 days a wk...even for KG? No. Maybe. If it seems great, we'll find a way. But I just think-- why not try it for a year or two...until KG.>

As I said before now it should not be a problem.
If you child is older then it is a big problem if you change schools.
We were in a big dilemma. My son had already done a year of preschool and 2 years of KG at Waldorf.Then They convinced me he was too immature and needed another year of kindergarten. He had tried a month in 1st grade . That was when I should have pulled him out. The teachers concluded his "immaturity" was based on two things: One, because he would not participate in the activities. In particular he hated all the circle games and eurhythmy.Now I know it was because he was bored out of his brains doing these activites for almost 4 years!Also I suspect he is just not the type of person who enjoys circle games,some people just don't. The secornd reason they found my son to be immature was his drawing skills were behind for his age. Now I know that this was because he had moderate motor skill delays(dyspraxia). The Waldorf Teachers said his drawing would all improve on it's own when he was mature enough and I should by all means Not help him. Now I know this was a big mistake. Children with dyspraxia need early intervention as early as possible!

<But would this put him at a disadvantage later? I can't see him in public school...he's very active and curious and I can't imagine him sitting in a desk doing worksheets. I'd probably home school him first. But I wanted to at least try out Waldorf.But I'm soul searching...maybe this is me liking Waldorf and maybe it wont' be a good fit for him. The alternative at this late date is sending him back to his old school or homeschooling him.>

Again be sure he is really happy. As for myself now I realise that Waldorf appealed to me becasue it is the Kind of school I would have wished for myself, but but it was definitely not for my son.

<Any thoughts? Am I taking a big risk of wiping out whatever academic advances he's made on his own, and setting him up for a big self-esteem crash if he switches to another school for KG?>

Again, if you see your son his happy and really enjoying it now and you feel comfortable with it go for it!
But remain objective, if the teachers start discouraging you as they did me from doing any intellectual activities, even Legos or puzzles (they told me puzzles were bad because they make children see the world in a fragmented way but doing them would have really helped his fine motor skills) be on guard! Some Waldorf teachers are more hard-core about this than others.

If you decide to go past KG be sure that Waldorf is really suited for your child learning style. From my experience it is not for every child.
As I said before they kept my son another year in Kindergarten. He had tried a month in 1st grade but could not focus. Now I know that my son does not learn well in the traditional classroom with rows of desks and the teacher and blackboard in front ( like in Waldorf elementarys). There is too much stimulation for him. He also had difficulties copying form the blackboard. This was not immaturity. The move back to Kindergarten was disastrous and detrimental for my son's self esteem. After I changed to Montessori the teachers had no problem getting him to follow. Within a few months he learned to read and write , count to 100, do basic addition and subtraction. And he loved it! Everyone who knew him commented on how much happier my son seemed after I pulled him out of the Waldorf school.
His Montessori teachers all shook their heads in disbelief over the fact that he was held back in Kindergarten another year for they feel he was so ready to learn!
This was my mistake because I trusted the Waldorf teachers too much!
So if they tell you to keep your son back a year and they often do, be careful! I should add we had no choice but to put my son in a Montessori school, where children learn at their own pace. Had we put him in a public school where all the students are expected to do the same thing at the same time ,my son would have been really aware that he was behind and it would have harmed his self esteem even more.

So if you decide to stay in Waldorf and again I know of children who really thrive in Waldorf, just don't fall in the trap of believing everything the teachers tell you about the philosophy. Be sure it is your child and not just you who loves the environment.

Good luck,
Lorraine
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#39 of 41 Old 08-11-2005, 11:22 PM
 
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Lorraine -

Thanks for the thoughtful and thorough reply -- it definitely has given me some food for thought...especially since I think I too see Waldorf as a kind of education that would have appealed to me as a child (I was very artsy and believed in fairies, etc), but maybe not to my son. I think I'll try it for this year at least, since he still has 2 yrs of preschool to go, but I will have to be very honest with myself and in touch with my son to find out how it's going. His preschool teacher was reassuring to me about early reading (said if the child was doing it -- fine, great -- as long as I wasn't trying to push him before he was ready), but if when he moves to KG he'll have another teacher -- so I'm going to stay on top of it. I know he's already concerned about whether they have marbles in the classroom, like his old school did (he likes to use them to play planets). But, on the flip side, I've had several people who have kids with SID issues, like my son, say how helpful the environment and structure was. I would have done Montessori, but I don't think he's ready for 5 days a week yet. But we'll see. It's such a hard decision. But thanks again for all the feedback. I'm going to print it out and keep it on hand for when I'm making this decision again next year.

Erin
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#40 of 41 Old 09-02-2005, 11:30 PM
 
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I really am confused by the whole not sure he's ready for 5 days a week that I've seen in several different threads -maybe I should start a thread

If your child can separate from you and play and have fun on monday tuesday and weds, why wouldn't he on thursday and friday too?

From a "montessori" perspective, children come to school to be part of a community -for a lot of kids, they can do that in a couple of hours a couple of days a week, but a fair number of kids, if they only go to school for that little bit of time, don't bother to socialize as nicely with the other children, or simply won't socialize at all, and will just "work". They know they can go home soon, and they prefer to wait to do their socializing with their families. If, on the other hand, they come to us every day, they come to "need" the other children more, and are therefore more committed to their relationships with them, and so comport themselves better. They develop much more as human beings that way. It's a beautiful thing to watch a pair of kindergartners behave like sisters after 3 years together.

Within my school, we have "part day" and "full day" programs, and you can tell, on the playground, which children are part-day, based on their behavior. The "part-day" kids are far more likely to be aggressive, to say awful things to each other, to rely upon teachers to solve their problems, than the "full day" children, who spend more time together, and so have the time necessary to completely work through their problems. My kindergartners will hash out relationship issues over the course of WEEKS, till they find the best way to handle, for example, who is going to be "leader" of the "boys team" in the absence of the usual leader (it happened to be the case that the boys team chose a girl to lead until the usual captain recovered from strep).

Also, I wanted to throw in my 2 cents about the imagination/creativity issue, which Montessori classrooms are usually considered short of. Montessori was a huge fan of teaching aesthetics and art to young children. The difference was in her interest in teaching them about REAL things. If you look at a Montessori classroom, the practical life (aka "housekeeping") area should be full of beautiful things one could "imagine" were your things in your kitchen. The geography area should be full of beautiful things to help you imagine you are in Egypt, or China, or Italy, or Antarctica. The science shelf should be full of things to help you imagine you are a scientist exploring insects or water or dinosaurs. The art shelf should have everything you need that day to make a masterpiece. The difference is, those things are not cheap plastic imitations of things, they are REAL "artifacts" from foreign countries, or costumes. Real compasses, magnifying glasses, stethoscopes. Real, quality paints, brushes, and paper. Our observations have led us to believe that children will want to use these things again and again (perhaps unlike the treehouse with the gnomes).

I should probably add that there are those in the Montessori world who are more strictly anti "imaginative play" in the classroom than others -AMI schools in particular tend to be more strict about the use of materials. But you can't stop children's imaginations anymore than you can change their shoe size.
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#41 of 41 Old 09-03-2005, 01:03 PM
 
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There is a good comparison at www.michaelolaf.net. There are similarities but profound differences between Montessori and Waldorf. At this site there is also a lot of free text about how to use Montessori in the home, where to find NON-PLASTIC (important to both Montessori and Waldorf) toys and educational materials to use at home, and advice about checking to see if a Montessori or Waldorf school one is considering is really following the method.
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