what do you like of your childs education at Waldorf? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 14 Old 11-24-2002, 12:31 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Im asking this since: no.1 My ds is attending waldorf kindergarten. No.2 I'm wondering If I should stick with it (although happy now) no.3 Too much Waldorf bashing has been difficult to read since it gets soooo emotional. AND FINALLY no.4 Let's talk about what works, eh???? I've read that plenty of Waldorf graduates go on to college and even find successful careers-- so something must be working.
please let us know if your child is in the lower school or the middle school or High school and what you can see working.
Thanks, Laura
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#2 of 14 Old 11-24-2002, 07:15 PM
 
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Hi:

I've had two daughters in two different Waldorf lower schools one of whom was in middle school and presently is a junior in a Waldorf high school. She was also in public school for a while.

Let me say first that I think 'teacher' is more important than 'philosophy.' A person whether trained in Public, Waldorf, Montessori, or whatever philosophy will be who they are first with the children and training/philosophy second, third or last. The makeup of the class may be the second most important influence on the child.

That said, Waldorf schools have the teacher "pass" each year with his or her students so that kids always have the same lower and middle school teacher. This can work wonderfully. Each year the teacher knows the students, and vice versa, and I think it can smooth out disciplinary and other problems. Recently I heard an 8th grade teacher say to one of the girls in his class who was getting a bit obstreperous in the hallway, "Denise, I remember the days when every time you went outside you would always bring me the lovliest leaf you could find to show to me," referring to what the girl used to do years ago. This melted the girl's heart.

Eurhytmy is fine for lower school but drives the older children crazy.

The emphasis on art and what is aesthetic, I think, is wonderful. In high school part of the day is devoted to a "main lesson" that goes for two hours first thing every morning. The same subject is taught for 3 weeks after which each student creates a "main lesson book" which is a marriage of their own art and the subject. Many children, after years in the school, with that emphasis on art, can create a 20 page book on "History through Poetry" or "Physics" that are stunning as they present what they learned in the most aesthetic means they can.

Lots of time outdoors. Good, I think.

An emphasis on presenting the "big picture" with much less emphasis on facts. I was skeptical at first thinking the girls would lag behind others in other schools but they both had to switch to public schools for a time and did so without a hitch. I supplement my high-school daughter's education with a sprinkling of facts as I feel, in high school, they need to be given more facts.

I find the anthrophosopy talk a bit too groovy or wishy-washy but I don't think the Waldorf talk, just as in any school, has much to do with the Waldorf walk.

Both the schools we were involved with were somewhat insular in that when you enrolled your child you puchased a "package" and there wasn't going to be a lot of imput from the parents as to what is going on in the school. This, I think, is human and part of all schools but the Waldorf schools were less open to parental imput than the publc schools we were part of.

Small class size and small school size are both reported to be associated with a bunch of good things besides.

I think, starting as you are in kindergarden, you can work with both the teacher, the school and the other parents to form a community around the children that could grow in strength and increasingly nourish your child and the other children as they grow securely in the center of that community.
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#3 of 14 Old 11-24-2002, 08:56 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Cumulus: Thanks so much, your input is important. a lot of things you mentioned help to support what I already believe of the education. That is that The Natural and Beautiful parts of life are focused on and a child after spending time learning among people they have more integral relationships with ( teachers and classmates) the basis of what is truly important in life (imo) is built. who needs a day filled with facts and flourescent lights and teachers who are burnt out on the chaos of pubic school?? not my child. I like how you say you "sprinkle" some of the facts in to supplement her education. I can see where that would be necessary in any students life. so, you're seeing where they leave out the facts???????
Yes, I must agree that it is beneficial (imo) to have smaller classes. the community you mention is definately a big plus. We more or less are on the same page or at least in the same chapter. the other parents know exactly where you're coming from when talk of t.v. or computers comes up. and health.. it's a big priority to everyone I know there. This is important.
Laura
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#4 of 14 Old 11-25-2002, 10:07 PM
 
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My son is in 1st grade and my daughter is in Kindergarten. I was very nervous about 1st grade because the teacher is so important to your child's experience.

Waldorf has pluses and minuses to it in regards to having the same teacher 1st through 8th grade. Pluses: No stress about which teacher your child will get the next year. The child develops a lasting relationship with the teacher. The teacher really knows your child. Minuses: If the child and the teacher do not work well with each other or if the teacher is bad, you're stuck. I have heard of class parents uprising and having a teacher fired but if you are the only one with the problem then you are out of luck.

As the class was forming, the parents took the intiative to work together to ensure that the children have a positive experience. We have focused a great deal of time on social inclusion (in other words no bullying). There will be problems with the children but no problem is allowed to get out of control before action is taken.

I like the fact that all the parents are pretty much on board in regards to TV, movies, video games and such. We have really formed a community together.

My husband and I are both engineers, so I am very happy with the art and beauty emphasis. I like the whole learning that takes place rather than just facts. I like how the children learn how to use their hands, hearts and minds. Facts can always be added as needed at home. My son loves fact and science books so he gets plenty of that at home.

Again, this is our first year. I am sure there will be ups and downs. I plan on monitoring his math and reading skills as we go along.

My suggestion to you, is if you choose to go on to first grade, find out about the teacher selection process. After a teacher is chosen, find out about parents in the class room. Our teacher has a different parent helper each day and welcomes parental inputs. Our parents just had big discussion on the first word chosen for the kids to learn to read. It was very interesting to see the different perspectives. Get to know the teacher and decide if they are a good fit for your child. Ask them about bullying or whatever concerns you.

Good luck and I wish you the best!
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#5 of 14 Old 11-26-2002, 11:29 PM
 
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What I like about the parent/child playgroup: Natural lighting, good story, healthy organic snack I do not have to prepare, opportunity for my social butterfly to play freely with friends, nice parents to chat with, nice teacher who likes kids, nice teacher who chats respectfully to parents, my child's interest in toys & objects that can be used in a variety of ways, nice outdoor space, my child looks forward to it and takes a great nap afterwards. ;-)The cute scarf i am finger knitting. the felt fish i made. lol
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#6 of 14 Old 12-07-2002, 09:42 PM
 
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My experience with waldorf schools goes back a long way. Recently I was the business manager at a large midwest school (3 years). My daughter went to two schools, one in LA and the other in Toronto, for a total of 13 years. I went to the same school in LA as a teenager, for two years. My younger brother and sister also went to school there for a few years. Finally, I had an aunt who was a waldorf handwork teacher.

So, what I really liked: in my own experience as a student, the way things were connected to each other, the way teachers prepared carefully for teaching a class, getting to act in plays, the great history teaching, and especially geometry ( I think waldorf has the absolute best approach to teaching geometry, period).

What I didn't like: many of the teachers didn't know how to teach (this was in the 60's, the school was just starting, and there were no teacher education programs in the U.S.) So I had some of the best and some of the worst teachers I ever encountered. I also found eurythmy very puzzling. I hated choir (I can't sing), and found having to draw pictures all the time sort of frustrating, because I can't draw, either.

What I got out of it: those two years still live strongly in my memory. They changed the way I approach learning and thinking. I didn't do university until I was in my mid-thirties, but that was the stuff I referred back to when I was trying to do college level work.

My daughter's experience: I was a very young mother, so I basically just handed her over to the school and didn't worry. Luckily she had very good teachers in early childhood and an excellent class teacher (an ex-waldorf student) through 7th grade. She really liked the school. She is a perfectionist, and being asked to do things that she found difficult and to do them very well, made her happy. Academically she did fine, learning to read between second and third grade in the summer, mastering all the basic math on schedule. On top of this she got to draw, sing, act in plays, and all the other good waldorf stuff.

High school came after a two year gap. We moved to Missouri and tried the public schools, but she was very bored, and rather shocked at the concept of being compared to other children. She hated getting good grades for what she thought was mediocre work. So we tried home schooling for 1 1/2 years. The best I can say is that it wasn't a total bust, but I was definitely not qualified to teach high school level material, except history, so she wasn't getting a balanced curriculum, to put it mildly.

After looking around she decided she wanted to go to a waldorf high school, so she ended up boarding with a family who lived north of Toronto. The high school was great, she and I missed each other horribly though.

I've been going on to long. My daughter didn't want to go to college immediately after high school, so she ended up in California and joined the California Conservation Corps, where she got an immersion course in how the other half live. She did a variety of jobs in the corps, including construction and back-country trails building in Kings Canyon. After that, 6 years at Humboldt State University where she completed a degree in Water Quality Engineering and acquired a very high quality husband. She has told me several times that the waldorf school background was a big help in college, because she had learned how to think rather than how to memorize.

Enough already, but I'll be glad to answer any questions that someone might have.
Deborah
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#7 of 14 Old 12-08-2002, 12:39 AM - Thread Starter
 
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DEborah, thanks for your input. You found eurythmy puzzling??? How so??? I'm glad you found that college was in line with the thinking required and taught at Waldorf. and if your daughter is like I believe my son is starting to be ( a perfectionist) than maybe the school will work for him. (???)
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#8 of 14 Old 12-08-2002, 10:56 AM
 
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Okay, I'm a 14 year old, starting at a waldorf school and we walk into this room and start doing all this weird movement stuff. The teacher was a nice lady (Dutch I think), but she never explained anything of what we were doing or why. I eventually started liking it, and years later, as an adult, when I had eurythmists as associates and co-workers I started understanding what it was about.

I doubt if my puzzlement did me any permanent damage :

Deborah
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#9 of 14 Old 12-13-2002, 03:42 AM
 
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I am taking a the Waldorf foundation class and Eurythmy is included. I love it, it is a challenge to remember the movements for the sounds,but our teacher has made it a lot of fun.
My dd is in kindergarten and I have substituted a few times when they have Eurythmy. It is presented in a more game/story to them, but most of them seem to love it also. The music supplied for it is always on piano or some kind of instrument.

Tracey
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#10 of 14 Old 01-06-2003, 07:09 PM
 
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I have really enjoyed reading about people's Waldorf expereinces. I am in training to be a Waldorf teacher and I also have my 5 year old in KG at a Waldorf school. What I like about it is that she comes home singing of Saints and noble people, not some karate cartoon character. She sings often of St. Martin and how he tore his cloak in 1/2 and gave it to a beggar, then the beggar came to him in a dream and told him he was no beggar but Christ. I get teary eyed knowing that she pretends to be magnificant people that were caring, kind and brave. She was William tell for Halloween. She told me is was brave and courageous. She wants to be like him and he was a real person who saved a country with his bravery.

I love that he teacher meditates on each child each night and asks that she be led to be teh best teacher for each child, to help each one of them. I love that when we have a parent teacher conference that her teacher truly knows her and is concerned for her future wellbeing, not only acedemically but spriritually.

I made a decision to get rid of the TV for my children. We have been with out it for 3 years now. It turns out it was the best thing in the world for ME!

I am surprised that I have not seen a TV thread somewhere hear, maybe there is and I just haven't seen it.

I love that she is filled each day with fairytales of good fighting evil, that she says daily verses about being God's creation, that she learns to love nature and respect it, to eat healthily and play hard. (She is the captain of the mud squad). I love that she is not frightened of tests and worried about homework as is her stepsister that is the same age.

Really I could go on and on, but I'll stop there.
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#11 of 14 Old 01-12-2003, 10:35 PM
 
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My oldest son will be entering first grade in the fall and has been in Waldorf programs since the age of two.

I came on to tell you what I love about Waldorf, but I have to say, with regard to the "parent uprising" and firing of teachers... this does indeed happen and I am no fan of it. I am not impressed that these "uprisings" happen so often in Waldorf schools because I love the curriculum and philosophy and expect that we evolve and work together in reverence for one another, resolving conflicts with compassion. The children are learning from us. I apologize for going somewhat off topic, but I needed to express another side of that coin.

I will add, quickly, that there is a shortage of trained Waldorf teachers. As a parent, you should expect that a teacher will often come from the community itself...oftentimes a parent feels called. Are you comfortable with an individual training as they go, for example, during the summers? I have seen untrained Waldorf teachers be expected to teach like trained Waldorf teachers and fired because there was not enough support of them. I found this very disheartening.

If you thought every day was a rainbow day in a Waldorf school...sorry to crush that idea!

Waldorf, for me, seems to be the humanitarian education we all deserve, regardless of what is happening around us...and because of what is happening around us! My son has a reverence for life, that evolved through his education (and my education as a result) in Waldorf...so far! Waldorf education can be a healing education. I have seen healing in my own child and others through the use of pedagogical stories and through artwork, especially painting. Why healing? Healing from what? Well, many families have separations and divorces, for one. This has occured in our family. While Waldorf is not a replacement for therapy, it is designed to be reverent, gentle, and compassionate. There are also a great number of pressures and expectations and messages put upon young children in this day and age. I believe that if they have not been protected from too much of this, they need healing and a sense of calm and meaning in thier lives. I believe that a lack of protection from the speed of life as we know it today leads to the types of problems that seem to be everywhere...adhd, depression, etc...

There is a three day rythm in the main lesson work of all grades, which allows for a deepening of those lessons in the child. Lessons in Waldorf are not flat facts, drills, memorization, and *his*tory.... In contrast, third and fourth grade times tables are learned through movement or games (which allows a much deeper learning than images on flash cards while children sit intellectualizing...). The Kalevala is taught, usually in sixth grade, and contains a great deal of strong female energy. A good teacher will bring feminist tone to many of the lessons through the years. It is there if one sees it. I appreciate the fairy tales, the fables, the old testament, the norse stories, the greek and roman etc...because I had none of this as a child and craved it my entire childhood! Waldorf education is a meaningful education that, for us, spilled over into our home life. It is just simply right for us.

My son is also very sensitive. Aside from my opposition to the curriculum, I fear that he would not fare well in a public school...or other private schools. Social issues are the same, but the ability to work through social issues should prove better in a Waldorf school. So far, it has...in our journey. We have attended summer "public type" programs and dropped out because of rigid teachers and social mayhem.

I will add that I would prefer to homeshcool my children with the Waldorf philosophy www.live-education.com , but I am solo, and have to support three of us on my own.

There is so much more, but I don't want to capitalize the thread!

Best to you in your journey!




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#12 of 14 Old 01-20-2003, 04:45 PM
 
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My daughter is in a Waldorf kindergarten in Switzerland, there are over 70 Waldorf schools here and it is a popular educational choice.

We tried Montessori for 2 weeks but I kept having a terrible gut feeling that this was not the right place for my sensitive 'spirited' child then we went to the Waldorf open day and it was such a breath of fresh air.

What do we love ...........the magic, the natural materials, the fairy stories, the out door play, the love we feel from teachers and other parents, the parental involvement (parents clean the school, cook school lunches and the schools is actually run by the parents who take turns on the school board - ie they hire the teachers and set the policies). We also love the school Christmas bazaar which is phenomenal. The older children we meet are emotionally mature and confident individuals who are a pleasure to be with.

With only 15 kids and 2 teachers our daughter has integrated easily despite the language barrier. The English speaking Eurythmics teacher made special daily visits to see her and help her settle in for the first few months which we very much appreciated.

Unfortunately we'll be moving back to Ireland where a Waldorf school won't be an option and that distresses me. There is a chance there will be one opening about 40mins away and we'd definitely make the effort to send our kids there if it does.

Most of all it is the magical atmosphere which sets it apart from regular schools.

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#13 of 14 Old 01-20-2003, 08:59 PM
 
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When my dh and I were there a few years ago, I cried because we had to leave. He wanted to go home. I almost divorced him over this. lol Not really, but I was so angry. He's a scientist and speaks german- he may have been able to get a work visa. I am an american and sadly speak only english. (dh was born in southern europe). Ireland is beautiful, though.
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#14 of 14 Old 01-21-2003, 03:22 PM
 
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I'm pretty bummed to be leaving too! I really love living here, have great friends, love the school and its a great place to bring up kids! BUT dh wants to start his own business and we own land in Ireland so we're going to build our own house, grow our own veg, have chickens, geese, dogs etc. and try living off the land so thats a challenge too but I just know we'll often regret leaving Switzerland but seeing as I've not lived anywhere in my life longer than about 3 years I'm pretty well conditioned to leaving just when I like somewhere!! Where did you live?
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