Well, I had an aunt who was a waldorf handwork teacher. So my mother put me into the local waldorf school as a teenager. I liked it. My younger brother and sister also attended for several years each, and they liked it. When I had a daughter I put her into the school I had attended and later she went did HS at another waldorf school. She liked it and now she runs a waldorf daycare and has her daughter in the local waldorf school (1st grade).
What I liked as a student: the historically oriented teaching; the interconnectedness of the approach; the artistic and craft work; some super-excellent dedicated teachers.
What my brother and sister liked as students: stories, art, music, drama, poetry, staying with the same group of students, the dedication and interest of the teachers. There is probably more, I haven't asked them lately.
What I liked as a parent: the atmosphere of the kindergarten and the gentleness and patience of the teachers; the lack of rush and hurry and pushing little kids to grow up. in the grade school I liked my daughter's elementary school teacher, who had also attended a waldorf school, the richness of the curriculum; the focus and interest of the teachers; and the tremendous musical and artistic skills fostered in my daughter. In the HS I liked the wide-ranging and deep curriculum, the focus on basic concepts rather than memorization, the fact that the material was challenging for my very intelligent daughter, the drama, the class trips, and the other super great kids in her class.
There is a lot more, but I need to get back to work.
I initially chose Waldorf shortly after I saw an advertisement for a Waldorf inspired preschool. I was fixated on the headlines: organic snacks, natural playthings, gentle rhythm, home based, community oriented, etc.
I was looking for a quieter environment with smaller numbers for sure. My ds (then age 2) was struggling in a mainstream daycare with high numbers and noisy bells and whistles all day. The kids ate spaghettio's type lunches, and I wanted ds to see more children eating the kind of food he was eating (mostly organic and vegetarian). I hoped for more outdoor time involving something more than sand and a monolithic play structure. I was feeling isolated in the city as a single parent, and I wanted to meet groovy parents with common interests and make connections. I was hoping for genuine loving teachers for ds, and I was wishing for more enchantment in his life while I was separated from him at work.
I had read about Waldorf in an article and was interested, but it seemed out of reach financially. I toured the preschool in the ad, and I immediately knew it was a good fit. It was the right kind of warm environment for ds, who has an open hearted nature and a rich inner life. I was thrilled with the serene feeling of the home based setting, and I was warmed to witness the buzzy happy children "ironing", "hanging wash" and playing "trains" with pieces of cut branches.
Waldorf seems to look at what is developmentally appropriate for the child, and is not subject to to the many trends / fads of education. The schools have been around for 100 years, and much of what Rudolf Steiner said then is very true today. Waldorf is also more environmentally conscious, as children have a lot of contact with natural materials plus lots of time outdoors. The curriculum is deep and well thought out. My son is now in kindergarten, and has learned a lot through his play!
I was concerned that schools had turned learning into mindless busy work that encouraged students to stop using their brains. It was very much like a technical training instead of a preparation for good thinking and effective learning. We saw these effects in our own children who were almost never thoughtfully engaged in the classwork. It was just paperwork to them, like filling out a tax return. It was treated as something that "needed to be done", but had no real value to it otherwise.
I was convinced to try Waldorf because the Waldorf students and former students I encountered were so much the opposite. They were each very unique individuals but what struck me about them was they were relatively speaking unusually passionate toward knowing and doing things in the broader world. And they also had this centeredness about them. They were very comfortable in their own skin. That is a quality that I've heard many times from others, about my children and about other Waldorf students, others meaning people that don't know about Waldorf or where they've gone to school. One friend of mine, another Waldorf parent, tells me that she's met other adolescents a few times that she just knew, and confirmed, were Waldorf educated due to this comfortable and self-possessed quality they had engaging and interacting with strangers, young or old.
I consider myself to have been kind of a tough sell towards Waldorf, because my first impression was that it was exactly what I was not looking for. I thought of it as some kind of whatever school system and for me, what I wanted most was that my children be educated to think. I did a kind of self-study about the theories and rationales why the curriculum is set up the way it is but it was a gamble for me. There are a lot of educational theories out there, but they don't all work. (Take a look at California's public school system and you'll find a jillion examples of the disconnect between theory and reality.)
I learned about Waldorf schools when I was a first year high school teacher. I was so unhappy with the whole situation - the forced curriculum ( I taught Social Studies), the lack of imagination on the part of the teenagers - I just knew there had to be something better. Had I remained a teacher I would have sought Waldorf training (Im lucky enough to live near a Waldorf teacher college).
So when I became pregnant I knew I wanted for my child to become developed as a whole person, and that mainstream education is failing that goal. Both dh and I are educated and firmly believe in education. We also know that an educated person is a thinking person. And there is such a lack of creative thinking in mainstream schools. I was very successful academically, but I didnt get to develop my whole self until I was out of school - I want for my child to develop all aspects of her being.
Why Waldorf? Well, because there really isn't anything else out there like it. Waldorf schools being made up of human beings are not perfect, but for our family it has many benefits not found in the other schools around us. I like the emphasis on the whole child rather than just on the academic side. My children's strength is on the academic side but what needed to be developed in them was the artistic and feeling side of them.
As an engineer, I work with many one sided people. I didn't want my kids to be one-sided.
So I looked at what was available in my area. Montessori was very cold and mechanical to me. The public schools were brash, loud, overstimulating and focused on testing. Even the alternative schools were this way though less so. Only in Waldorf, were the kids allowed to be kids and play. Only in Waldorf, were the kids allowed to be outside for large portions of their day rain or shine. Only in Waldorf, was there an emphasis on good, simple, organic foods. Only in Waldorf, was there support of a no media life style for young children.
Lastly, after we started in Waldorf, I realized how much I liked how the school and teachers recognized the soul or spirit in each child without the dogma of organized religion.
we moved to a more waldorf life because simply put life wasn't working without it. I was in a constant state of chaos, stressed out all the time, trying to get in all the kids schoolwork (we homeschool), clean the house, entertain the children, and on and on.
I just about lost it, I had a pretty decent nervous breakdown and really didn't do much for about week cause I was just totally overwhelmed, then I found a website and I said what the heck, and we tried that approach.
Over a weekend I got rid of all the kids loud plastic toys and left only a few wood things.
Already it seemed to be a bit easier to breath....it just went on from there. My Dad made the kids playstands, I stopped pushing "table work" every day for my little guys, I started looking into waldorf curriculum. We set up a nature table, ect.
I get up in the mornings now (well most days
) looking forward to the day and embracing it. Instead of dreading it, like I used to.
Its just been an amazing thing for our family, I really think I would have lost it completely had it not been for the changes waldorf has made in our lives.
When my wife and I moved to a new house, our oldest daughter had just completed Kindergarten in one of the best public school districts in the state.
While looking for pre-school for our middle child in the new community, my wife went to check out a Waldorf school that was close to us, and was struck by what a perfect fit it would be for our eldest. We've been there three years now and are extemely happy with the staff and community.
Based on my own miserable public school experience, when my children started school, I thought their free creative life was over, and set about helping them cope with the death of that stage of life. I was overjoyed to find that in Waldorf that part of my children's being was embraced and supported, ALONG WITH their emerging desire to know.
My wife and I regard ourselves as spiritual people though neither of us are religious. We attend a Unitarian Universalist church off and on, the acceptance of spirtual subjects by Waldorf is comforting and pleasing to us. Our eldest daughter has always been a child who is deeply thoughtful and carefully considers everything she encounters. Waldorf has allowed her to engage in that thoughtfulness without punishment. In the public school she would be chastised for not keeping up with the various academic tasks necessary to successuflly complete impending standardized testing.
We are also a bit anti-consumerist, and the media limitations encouraged by Waldorf jive happily with that. We are a bit hippy, and whereas in the public school community we felt excluded and embarassed by our preferences say, to avoid hydrogenated oils, in the Waldorf community we're seen as the 'normal' ones
This isn't really my story, but that of several parents I know in our children's school. They have chosen Waldorf for one or two of their children while at the same time choosing another school system for another of their children. One family I know had four children in four different schools last year. Sometimes it's been because their child was in a very bad situation in the system they came from, suffering with bullying, teasing and otherwise not fitting in because their child didn't fit the "cookie cutter" mold of that school, to use the term one of them gave me. They chose the school because their child was allowed to blossom and just be him or herself there. And at other times, it's been because their child(ren) weren't given much opportunity to express themselves artistically and they felt their child would benefit from the W school with its many avenues for artistic expression, including within the academic lessons.
1 - 11 of 11 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.