Questions on reading in Waldorf - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 6 Old 05-28-2003, 01:53 PM - Thread Starter
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So my pre-conception of Waldorf is that they don't teach reading until first grade. I'm guessing each school is different and that this just may be a misconception....
I found a Waldorf school that is just wonderful and in all aspects I feel that my daughter will shine with the program, but she is so eager to read at 4. I really enjoy Montessori's way of teaching reading and letter recognition with tactile material. Has anyone supplemented Waldorf's program with at home reading lessons?
Or found that their school does introduce reading at an earlier age for children that want that?
I'm just curious, and would like my facts straight before making an opinion on a program I am so endeared too.
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#2 of 6 Old 05-28-2003, 02:16 PM
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This is correct, Waldorf doesn't teach reading until age 7. There is some pre-reading work, done, letters, etc. earlier than that, but not much.

It was a big issue for me with my first, but I rode it out and stuck with the programme. She is now, at ten, reading books like a starving man would tuck into his tofu.

So, in theory, I guess, it worked fine.

In practice, though, I beat myself up over not responding to her interest in learning to read when she exhibited it, and I took some grief from my extended family, who probably would never noticed if Maeve didn't have a cousin two weeks older than she who is in public school, and who was reading by 5.

My intention with Sophie, who is 18 months, is to purchase the first grade Waldorf curriculum and teach her at home home "Waldorf style" when she shows an interest.
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#3 of 6 Old 05-28-2003, 02:45 PM
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Like your daughter, I was very eager to read at 4, and my father taught me how when I was in kindergarten (public school). I started going to Waldorf school in 2nd grade, and my classmates were still reciting the alphabet and learning to read at the most basic level. I was never made to feel like an outsider because I could already read, and I don't remember it being a problem in any way.

I'm a huge reader to this day, and I would encourage you to teach your daughter if she wants to learn. For kids that aren't ready, I would never suggest that, but if you've got a reader-in-the-making, go for it.
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#4 of 6 Old 05-28-2003, 09:14 PM
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My 5 year old daughter is picking up reading at home. She would rather look at books than do anything else (much like how I was). This is one of the reasons I love waldorf for her, it balances her out. I don't know of any waldorf parents who denied their children's interest in reading...I think it's more a issue of not pushing it or making it part of the curiculum until a particular age.
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#5 of 6 Old 05-30-2003, 11:17 AM
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and for some children they are not really reading until 3rd grade. In my sons 1st grade class, some children can read, some are starting to read (my son) and some are showing no interest. His teacher is introducing lower case letters now so that children who want to can begin reading this summer. Lower case letters are not normally introduced until the beginning of 2nd grade.

Reading is not discouraged but we are asked to not push the issue or start using flash cards, etc. In a Waldorf school, children of all talents and capabilities are together so there is a range of talents from gifted to struggling. The aim of teacher is to introduce subjects when it is the right time developmentally for the class as a whole. The teacher wants the children to be practically begging for it so that there is an air of excitement and anticipation about what they are learning. There will always be some behind and some ahead and for different subjects it may be different children who are behind or ahead.

The aim is also for a balanced child. My kid is fact driven so Waldorf has balanced him with lots of fairy tales and handwork. He loves it and he is more balanced than he was when he was younger before Waldorf. If your child is asking for it or is picking it up on her own, I wouldn't discourage it but I don't think I would emphasize it either with toys etc. Just read to her a lot. You will be amazed how much she picks up.
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#6 of 6 Old 06-08-2003, 03:32 PM
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to add to what Rhonwyn wrote, in Waldorf, there is a big emphasis on listening - hearing in order to extend one's vocabulary databank , and imagination during the very early years. This is approached by story-telling, singing songs and hearing foreign languages. These are the foundations of being a strong reader later in life. (For a non-waldorf support for this concept read Jim Trelease's The Read Aloud Handbook."

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