This is probably the silliest post ever composed, but here it goes. If you make it to the end, you're a saint.
Oh, and I should disclose that I'm 22 weeks pregnant, so hormones are playing no small part here.
I love the idea of a Waldorf education, however, we are not sending 4yo DS to either of the local Waldorf schools ("local" = 40 minutes to either) because of aforementioned distance and lack of finances. Pledging is an option at one, but we seriously have NO extra time to work at the school because we truly are that strapped. Both DH and I work 40+ hours/week just to keep a modest home over our heads, our old cars on the road and nourishing food in our bellies. I only emphasize this point because I've crunched the numbers a thousand times and if I hear one more (albeit well-meaning) person say "why don't you just go work at the school?" or something similar, I will cry (even more than I already have). For the same reason, and because I truly am not the right parent for it, homeschooling is probably not an option either.
What I'm hoping for, hence the silliness of the post, is that someone here will tell me that DS will turn out just fine without a Waldorf education. More accurately, with a rather "mainstream" education. (Duh, right? Then why am I such a stress case?)
He's a unique kid. He's kinetic. He has powerful emotions and is very expressive of nearly all of them. He's an excellent climber and runner. He seems to truly like to do "work" (chopping wood with his dad, cutting up paper, grinding cinnamon sticks, filling bottles of water etc). He melts down when he can't physically accomplish the things he wants to. He has always had a really difficult time getting to sleep, and almost always seems to need just a bit more but can't settle down. He hates underwear and most pants. Socks with seams are pretty much the devil.
Recently he's been experimenting with "telling on" people as a means to get them to do what he wants (mainly to play his way, or let him do whatever it was they told him not to). He does not discriminate by age, he'll tell on ANYONE. He takes correction very hard. If he climbs on the counter and I shake my head, he hops down and storms off crying "does this mean I have to go in timeout!?" (For the record, we do not use timeout at our house). He has what my friend refers to as a "viper tongue" when he's been crossed (and he often feels like someone's done him wrong). He can be a very strong advocate for himself, which is to say he will yell at and/or take things and/or get physical if he feels he must. He is also incredibly empathetic, helpful and often thoughtful beyond his age. He is engaging with adults and babies, though more reserved with children his own age. He loathes playing solo and wants my constant interaction, or to be "helping" with DH or I as we work around the house. He idolizes some older boys in our social circle and would like nothing more than to talk about farts and wrestle with them all day long.
He has almost no interest in drawing and seems to find it very difficult. Same with writing, so we haven't pushed either. He loves stories to be read or told to him. He's interested in the relationship of numbers to one another. He recognizes most letters and single-digit numbers, and can count/recite them. He figures out where parts fit onto machines, and how to make things work. He does not remember what he did 3 hours ago (when prompted to tell someone about how fantastic it was) but will remember a dog he met once when he was 2. He does not hear me when I gently call to him while he's playing with other children, but will walk across the room and cover my mouth if I am telling someone else about his amazing accomplishments. Inversely (and not atypically, I bet) he flips out when I finally raise my voice and shout that he must not push little Sarah, and appears oblivious when I tell another adult about my ordinary day.
Doesn't he seem like he could benefit so much from a Waldorf education? Or am I just projecting because I find it so beautiful and soothing? It seems like it would be just what he needs, but I need to get over that because it's not possible.
I know he's not the first kid to fit the description above, but I also know he's got some "stuff" going on and needs my support and guidance. But lately I'm so fried by the huge mood swings (his, really) and constant battles over silly little things that I'm at a loss. I feel like everything I do as a parent is wrong, even when on paper it seems just right (firm yet gentle, honest, kind, available). Even though I said "I'm NOT homeschooling my kid", I realize that what he picks up on around our house will have a huge impact on how he views the world and interacts with others. How can I not interpret some of his sassiness and reactivity as a evidence of poor parenting? And what on earth can I do to turn this around?
And I'm sending him off to school in a couple weeks. SCHOOL!?! I am so terrified of getting negative feedback about his behavior, although I'm aware that it's probably an ego thing for me. I'm also worried that he'll be ostracized by his peer for being "weird" or worse, for being mean to them.
If you made it this far, I applaud you! Now tell me, is there any hope for me becoming less neurotic and DS more balanced? Will school be as awful as I think?
It will be okay :) If the school he is currently enrolled in doesn't work out you will find another way that does work for him even if it is not waldorf. Speak to the teacher, share your concerns. What I thought when I was reading your post is that he has alot of markers for a gifted child.
How can I not interpret some of his sassiness and reactivity as a evidence of poor parenting?
This is a really normal developmental stage. He is seeing where he ends and you begin and testing how far he can push his limits.
You can make sure to have physical work set up for him and home too. Transition may be difficult but you will find a new pattern that will fit your family.
Hi OP, your DS sounds a lot like my DD when she was four, perceived "difficulties" included! I'm going to bed shortly but just wanted to let you know that you are not alone in your thoughts. I think we all agonize over whether what we are doing is particularly best for our child. My DD went to a Montessori school for three years (which at first glance would seem like a bad idea given her personality and general energy level), but she absolutely thrived there. Now she is in an academically based private school and guess what, she is also doing great! I constantly have to remind myself that she is an incredibly good kid, full of curiosity, even if her interests don't comport with what I think her interests should be or even with the interests of other kids her age.
She's a tiresome kid...I know where you're coming from. Sometimes I long for her to be subdued and normal and perhaps compliant like other kids I see. I've had to look at the positives, though. If I thought for a second that she wasn't thriving in her school situation, I'd re-evaluate. My personal fears, though, are mostly unfounded. Like your DS, she needs guidance, but as long as she possesses good intentions and values, sometimes I have just have sit back and let her be herself. It's hard. It is so opposite of myself. I know I'm not being much help here but just wanted to throw that out there.
I lean Waldolf, I really love the philosophy. I am NOT a Montessori person at all. We started off homeschooling and then ended up at a uber crunchy school that is not waldolf and my feisty, anxiety ridden, very active, dyslexic DD1 has thrived there. I never thought she would.
It WILL be ok. When I was pg and then trying to decide what to do with DD1, I was crying and crying and feeling like if I din't find the perfect school, the perfect fit, i was going to ruin her life. Now that I am a parent of older children, I am NOT pg, I've come to realize that children, even ones with special needs or unique abilities are much more adaptable then we give them credit for it. If this school does not work out, you just reevaluate, find another one. It really is a simple as that but when you add in all this emotion that we as parents do, we think that we have to make everything just right from the beginning. Children often do well in setting that are not up to our ideals.
you want to know the secret.
it always turns out ok.
most times people DONT have the choice of leading the life they want to lead. life hands them a lemon they struggle and struggle and one day things are better again.
your son will survive and you just may find interesting stuff at the school which you hadnt even thought about.
i also have a child who would have benefiited from a waldorf education (however let me tell you waldorf early elementary is waaay DIFFERENT than waldorf upper elem., middle and high school). i know enough kids who left waldorf because they could not handle the pressure in higher grades and they had way, way too much work than other public school children. but she would have been totally overwhelmed by the amount of homework in 5th grade.
changing from a waldorf and somewhat partially from a montessori k and going to a traditional first grade is really, really hard. or even 2nd grade.
you will slowly see your fears work themselves out. and you will be able to handle the stress and strain and not buckle under it.
the key to success at school? make sure your home life is FUN for your son. for us it meant goign to the park every single day.
I will tell you what: I am currently somewhere around 35 weeks pregnant AND I have a two-yr-old along w/ my 4-yr-old. Things got so bad w/ our oppositional 4yrold that I flat-out told my husband: That's it, I cannot take this every day, she is going to school. So we went from a hard-core "WE ARE HOMESCHOOLING" family to sending our daughter to full-time public preschool. Did I mention that I made this decision at the end of July? We did Waldorf Morning Garden for the past two years & I LOVE Waldorf, but since I decided to do this way past the financial aid application date and the classes were probably full anyway, W was out of the picture for this year :( Because dd1 is in a Headstart preschool, which are known for being highly academic, I'm not sure that W kindy OR first will be a good fit for her anymore. She loves academics, too, & knows tons of stuff already (wants to learn how to add for Pete's sake). We would need tons of financial aid to make it feasable anyway, but I'm still terribly saddened by this.
SO, now that dd1 has been in school for a whole two days, I will tell you this: chillax. I told the teachers nothing about dd1's behaviors. Partly b/c she behaves better for other people and partly b/c I didn't want to taint their perception of her. Let her classroom behavior speak for itself, kwim? I let them know that she may become argumentative as she gets to know them better & left it at that. I trust they will know how to handle it. And guess what? DD1 freaking ROCKS that class like a boss. LOVES it and her teachers love her. I sent her purely for social reasons, not academic ones, so I did let the teachers know that I didn't care a lick if she learned nothing other than how to get along better with people. Her behavior had improved dramatically a couple weeks before school started & now her attitude at home has ramped back up again. She is still handling herself way better than at her worst, so we are dealing. I know this is a huge adjustment for her; school is six hours long.
I would love to hear opinions about going to Waldorf after high academics. I am even thinking of doing W later, like grade two or three. By the end of this school year, dd1 will be ahead of where W first graders academically.
My daughter sounds a LOT like your son, emotionally (and physically to a point, though she's not a climber). A LOT. And at school.....she's a different person..well, not a different person, but at her best - we figured it was going to be a 50/50 shot whether she would blossom or crash, and she blossomed...we didn't 'warn' the teacher about anything for reasons others mentioned above. Our first conference a few months into the year, we told the teacher a little bit about her baby/toddler/preschoolerhood, and she looked shocked as if she couldn't believe it was the same kid. We had the time to do that because she had absolutely NO issues with her and she was doing fantastically and the conference portion was done in 5 minutes after she gushed about DD. All the engaging, nurturing, helpful parts of her came out, and she saves the rest for us when she gets home. Lucky us. She LOVES school, and is so, so excited to be starting again tomorrow.
He should be just fine.