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  Topic Review (Newest First)
01-19-2002 01:56 AM
heartlight Hello again, Karen, Forest Sage, and others! I wanted to share more about our early Waldorf experience.

I have learned so much that is so valuable to my family and me since we began our parent child classes! After studying the school environment and reading many Waldorf books, we have incorporated many of the principles and aesthetics into our home. (We got rid of all plastic toys, gradually; we had ditched the television even before we learned about Waldorf objections to it; we do lots of baking together, etc.) And there is so much more I would like to do, but haven’t been completely successful yet (establishing more consistent rhythms; gaining confidence in ad-lib storytelling; bringing more non-recorded music into our home). The inspiration comes from the school and the reading, but it is definitely important to me to have people that understand and appreciate our perspective to connect with. I think you will enjoy the class for the sense of community and the program.

Before the Christmas break, we were going to the Waldorf preschool once a week. (We had the option initially to go one or two days, and we opted for one day because we live so far and my dd was not ready for a lot of separation yet.) We gradually came to feel that we would like to add to her social calendar, so we looked into the local preschool that my friends had raved about. We actually signed up! However, we dropped the class after one session. Here’s an example of why: At our Waldorf preschool, painting is a reverential experience. The children sit at the table together, with their elbows on the table, palms together and wait for the teacher to place a paintbrush in the space between their thumb and forefingers as she sings “rainbow colors come to me” walks around the table slowly and places her palm on each child’s head. Then they paint, wet-on-wet with single watercolor color that reflects the current season, totally experiencing that color.

At the other preschool, the children had two painting opportunities the day we went. They could go up to the easel and slop some paint on the paper. I think it took each child (mostly four yo’s) about 10 seconds to complete this activity and rush on to the next thing. (That was another problem I had; the pace was so frenetic compared to Waldorf. Are they breeding ADD?) At the other painting station, the kids could dip something in paint trays and stamp it on the paper. A few girls just picked up big handfuls of the paint (mucking up the colors for everybody else) and rapidly smeared it on the paper, creating an ugly brown mess. It did not appear that the children paid much attention to what they were doing or gained anything from the experience. (I was pleased when my dd made two of these pictures: one red and the other blue!)

As I say, this is just an example. And there is nothing wrong with the local preschool. (I really liked the teacher.) But it made me realize how special the Waldorf school is. We are now going there twice a week. The system is not perfect, and so much depends on the teacher. But we will stick with it for as long as we can afford it and feel that it is so right for our dd. Homeschooling in a Waldorf inspired way would be our distant second choice.
01-08-2002 12:03 AM
Karennnnn Thanks so much ;0)
Yes, we have definitely thought of moving close to the Waldorf in Baltimore. Part of me thinks it's a good idea even if it's just in case, another part says that it might be a mistake just in case. But quite honestly I don't even know what's available in that area so I can't make any assumptions that I might be making a sacrafice that I don't have to make.
I know I could wait to put Tristan in the program but I think you're right, for me it would be a good thing right now. Because Waldorf is such a huge comittment I think it's a good idea to learn as much as I can as early as possible to help me make a decision. I mean really though, do I have to go to the parent/child program to know that's what I want for Tristan? Hell no! I think anyone with the same views as you or me can walk into a Waldorf school on any given day and fall in love with it.
I have heard of assisting at the school and that's a viable option. I think if and when I sit down with someone I'll definitely find out more about it. It would be ideal, but would it be better for me to work at an outside job to pay for Waldorf or be involved in the school in that way? I guess time will tell; it all depends on what happens in our lives which is obviously unpredictable.
In my heart of hearts I know it can happen but also in my heart of hearts I think I'm insane to even think we can do this! But anything is possible and I know that for a fact.
Homeschooling is something I'm not sure about. Many swear by it! I can't form an opinion about it though because there are tons of things that I thought I'd never do (nurse a toddler, co-sleep; I swore those off with a cross lol!) that I do religiously now. Another thing is that I don't know if I could make the impact that a waldorf teacher makes.
Why do Waldorf teachers make less than public school teachers? You'd think they'd make more or at least the equivalent.
And wow, what a story about your daughter. That is the kind of child that is a true child if that makes any sense to you. I guess that's what *I* see in my mind as a child who isn't corrupted by things like t.v. and just bad stuff in general. Of course as I write this my son watches Blues Clues for the millionth time!!! But on a side note to that I try to play music instead of t.v. most of the time and when I do have tv on it's only blues clues or something on tlc!
But anyway, thanks so much for your insight. It is VERY valuable and helpful to me!
01-07-2002 10:13 PM
heartlight Keep hope, Karen! I do believe the world provides what we need. We can’t always see how ahead of time, but amazing things do often materialize. You mentioned moving . . . have you considered moving closer to the school? It is not an option for us, and I still struggle with the cost to my dd of all the driving that will be involved when she starts going to school full time.

If Waldorf becomes your passion, you may want assist (for pay or at least a tuition break) at Tristan's school. I am hoping that might work out for me. You could even start exploring what that would take (training, reading, volunteering occasionally) now.

And then there is the homeschooling option. It is not my first choice (I don’t think I have the temperment for it, we are having only one child and we are fairly isolated, etc.), but it is an option. There are a few Waldorf-inspired curricula available if you choose to go that route. The Baltimore school may offer some support for that, too. And, as you said, financial aid is often available (40% of last year’s class at one Waldorf school I visited in Oregon received financial assistance).

The cost is high, no doubt about it. But the rewards are mighty, too. My dd composes the loveliest songs and stories and dances, about fairies and the seasons and nature. (We walked on the beach in the San Juan islands recently, and we found a dead baby porpoise. I have no idea how this came to her, but she knealt down and said a beautiful blessing. My husband and I were so touched! The next day, the porpoise was gone, and dd said that her blessing had caused it to come back to life and swim away.) The soul food that she receives, the reverence she feels and the magic that permeates her due to the experiences she is having now are irreplaceable.

Tristan is pretty young, so I bet you could wait until he’s two to start the program. At this point it might be more for you than for him! (Which is fine, of course. I was eager to meet other like-minded parents.)

I will also confess that our decision not to have another child was also supported by the logistics of dd’s schooling. I couldn’t subject a baby to all the driving we anticipate doing. But we had always planned on having only one (I just started to waffle a little when all my friends with kids dd’s age starting having their second.)

I also think it helps to keep perspective by knowing that Waldorf teachers earn very low pay, less than public school teachers. And in the grades, at least, they are required to do so much more!

Anyway, keep heart. I think things will work out for you and your family.
01-05-2002 07:24 PM
Forest Sage I agree that cost is a major factor. In fact, the average independent school parent earns the sames amount of money as the average public school parent (I read this at the website for the Ontario Federation of Independent Schools). I am an in-the-home mom too, earning only the money I get from my paper routes. My husband works more than 50 hours per week so that I can stay at home with Donovan, and we still struggle. I want to be optimistic and not feel restricted by our finances, but realistically, spending $70,000 on your child's education before high school is a MAJOR investment (not to mention how expensive college/university is going to be in 15 years). I think getting a solid start is priceless, however Waldorf certainly comes at a price.
I love the sense of belonging and community at our Waldorf school. The future for us is really up in the air right now because my husband and I want to go back to school in the fall ourselves. I'm researching charter schools as well as homeschooling. I'll keep you posted!
01-05-2002 05:12 PM
Karennnnn Thanks so much for replying! I think the only drawback of Waldorf is the cost.... It's so sad that something so simple and that makes so much sense costs so much money. The parent child program here is $350 for I believe 10 sessions; it's once a week. That's a lot of money.. Not a big deal compared to the cost of actually being educated completely at Waldorf, but still in issue! We however don't care lol! And will do the program in the near future anyway. Some things are just priorities!
One thing that is kind of hard to think about is what it really means financially and otherwise to send your child to waldorf for their formal education. You really really need to stick with it at least for the first few years or the transition into public school or other kind of school could be difficult because of how they structure their curriculum in the early grades (the way they teach reading, etc.). Also, if god forbid you couldn't afford it anymore then your child could be in for a shock... The Waldorf school of Baltimore does offer financial aid and payment plans but I don't know the specifics. And because Tristan has a few years at LEAST before he begins school things could change a lot so I don't even know if it's worth my time to sit down with someone there. I have a feeling it IS worth my time but I think the thing is that I'm afraid to find out answers.
When I think of what it's going to take to send him to Waldorf I get really scared! We'll do anything for Tristan of course, but when you think about what's involved it always causes severe anticipation!! The school is about 25 minutes away from where we live now and in the next year we'll be hopefully buying a home (god willing!!). We're keeping in mind that we want to be close to Waldorf but who knows what the future brings! When you think about it, it's really very possible. Being a sahm mom now is working for us although it's a struggle, and when Tristan starts school I'll obviously work and my income will undoubtedly all go to his schooling more than likely. When I think about the commute to school, then me to work, then him back from school and how our days will be it's really tough to think about. And this also affects having another child because if we have another baby I strongly believe (WE strongly believe) that one of us needs to be home with him/her. So THEN where does that lead us? I need to talk with a psychic!! LOL!
Thanks for letting me vent ;0)
Karen and Tristan
01-03-2002 02:28 PM
Forest Sage Hi Karen,
I am equally excited about Parent/Child. My 3 year old son and I attended the program in the Fall and hope to do the Spring one too. We couldn't afford the Winter sessions, which was frustrating because I was loving it.
The sessions were all predictable. First the kids played outside for about 20 minutes. After we came in there were songs and games like ring around the rosie (most of the kids went straight for the toys and didn't participate in the circle, but that was okay as far as the teachers were concerned). Then the parents would busy themselves with chores and the kids could do a craft of help prepare the snack. Snack was very interesting to me. A big part of the Waldorf philosophy is teaching the kids reverence for food, so everything about the preparation/blessing-complete with the lighting of the candle/eating was very important. After we would clean, then the sessions ended with a simple play put on by the teacher(moral tales like the little red hen).
I loved the calm atmosphere and gentle guidance approach. I'm interested to hear about how the other Parent/Childs are too.
(There was a little boy named Tristan in our class of all boys!)

01-02-2002 11:20 AM
heartlight Greetings Karen and Tristan!

I am the mother of a three-and-a-half year old girl. I was (and still am) as excited about Waldorf early childhood education as you sound. We visited several Waldorf playgroups and parent/child classes in England just as dd turned two, and we managed to get her enrolled in a parent/tot class when we returned. Although the closest Waldorf school is an hour’s drive from our home, the experience is so magical and unique that we continue to go there once a week for preschool.

Our teacher gathered the parents together one evening before the first class so that we could meet and know what to anticipate. Then we met about once a month without the kids to read Beyond the Rainbow Bridge and discuss how things were going. I don’t know what the Baltimore school offers, but I would imagine that it is not so different from the other tot classes I have attended.

The teacher should warmly greet the child (in England the parent is offered hot tea). Coats are generally hung on hooks outside the classroom door, and in many places the children shed their shoes and don slippers. (Parents can pad around in heavy socks.) A period of freeplay usually follows; often the teacher is busy preparing bread dough or a craft project at a table (the children are welcome to come participate with their parent’s help). At this age the kids often want the parents to play with them, and that is fine. You can let Tristan direct the play. The parents mostly want to talk to each other, but I my opinion, it is best if they talk softly and blend into the background as much as possible. This allows you to observe the children and permits them to have a better space to play.

At some point, the parents help to prepare a nutritious snack for the kids. (In our school, all the parents brought something to share.) Meanwhile, the children clean up toys (with parents help) and gather for circle time. It is nice if songs and fingerplays are repeated twice or three time in a row, so that parents and kids can learn them more quickly. Next, wash hands, bless food, and eat. Parents help clear and wash dishes. Outdoor play follows (bring hat, boots, warm coat, mittens). Finally, gather again to listen to a story from the teacher (not from a book), then sing a goodbye song.

I think you will have a great time! Please let me know if you have other questions – this is my passion!

P.S. Tristan and I have the same birthday!
01-01-2002 11:22 PM
Karennnnn Hi everyone,
DH, my son and I visited the Waldorf School Of Baltimore a few months back and I felt like it was just the coolest and most wonderful thing I had ever experienced. My son is only 15 months old but I'd heard so much about Waldorf that we went to the open house. When I heard about the parent child program I was very excited. Expensive, like everything at Waldorf, but doable and beneficial for the both of us in my opinion.
I think we're going to start in the next session beginning in March but I want to hear about people who have done it before; what you do, the activities etc. I spoke to one of the teachers about it but I think what I'm worried about is feeling very out of place when we go the first couple of times like I'm not sure what to do! I guess everyone goes for the first time but I want to show Tristan that I know what the heck I'm doing! Anyone know what I mean?
Anyhow I really hope that some day it's possible to send him there for his formal schooling rather than to a public school. It just felt so right and he really loved being there.
So any thoughts would be appreciated!
Take care,
Karen and Tristan

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