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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I live in CA, and an opportunity has come up for me to visit a Waldorf methods charter school with the possibility of enrolling my daughter there next year for kinder. I have a huge number of questions and concerns.<br><br>
First of all, Waldorf vs. public. I was public school educated(except for one year in Waldorf), and I'm a former public school teacher, so I know the good and the bad of it. I have grave concerns about the elitism of our private Waldorf school (tuition is astronomical, diversity is lacking) but obviously with a charter school this would be different. The public school we are looking at is a magnet school, also a lottery system.<br><br>
How does a charter school meet the state standards (reading by K/1st for example) and still use Waldorf theory?<br><br>
In my memeory and experieince, there was a European tradition to Waldorf holidays and celebrations, like May Day, Easter, etc. including a Christmas pagent that included Adam and Eve. How does a charter school seperate these traditions from religion?<br><br>
Our local school goes up to 8th. I cannot afford to send her to private HS. How would a Waldorf schooled child do in a transition to a public HS?<br><br>
We are not a TV free family, not even close. We aim to be more natural minded, but aren't always. Would we be very out of place at this school?<br><br>
If my child is academically gifted/advanced, will she be adequately challenged in this setting?<br><br>
Does Waldorf curriculum still have a Euro-centric approach, or has that changed since my childhood? (for example, we learned German and Spanish as foreign languages-but German isn't very useful here)<br><br>
Can anyone elxplain more about the philosophy that the teachers are trained in? I know a tiny bit about it, but have a hard time understanding how it influences their teaching style.<br><br>
Anything else important you can tell me about Waldorf that might help me be prepared for this visit?
 

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I can share the teeny bit I know about Charter Waldorf: friends of mine who moved to Arizona said the ritual/ceremonial side was lacking compared to private Waldorf. (Otherwise the curriculum was identical.) My response was that maybe it was their calling to bring more of the ceremonial side to their new school. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile">
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>Lousli</strong></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">I live in CA, and an opportunity has come up for me to visit a Waldorf methods charter school with the possibility of enrolling my daughter there next year for kinder. I have a huge number of questions and concerns.<br><br>
First of all, Waldorf vs. public. I was public school educated(except for one year in Waldorf), and I'm a former public school teacher, so I know the good and the bad of it. I have grave concerns about the elitism of our private Waldorf school (tuition is astronomical, diversity is lacking) but obviously with a charter school this would be different. The public school we are looking at is a magnet school, also a lottery system.<br><br>
How does a charter school meet the state standards (reading by K/1st for example) and still use Waldorf theory??</div>
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Hi--I'm a Californian also, though I'm a private WE parent now (my older children were public ed, not Waldorf methods). It's my understanding that charter schools and magnet schools can be significantly different. Magnet schools must follow all uniform state educational guidelines, hiring and union issues, curriculum, and all the rest. They were originally designed as an attractive solution, a kind of voluntary desegregation to address ethnic imbalances in public school districts. Magnet schools try to focus on a particular emphasis, science, art, fundamentals, etc., so that families with those interests would be attracted to the school. These schools typically have more applicants than they can take, often select by lottery, but are allowed to impose mandatory obligations in the form of contracts, such as attendance at parent meetings or what have you, for enrolled families.<br><br>
Charter schools are intended to encourage more educational innovation, customization and experimentation, and each school negotiates with a school district for a contract all their own, with unique criteria which can vary from the 'regular' public education code (though they too are limited how much they can deviate). These contracts establish the mission, goals (including measurable benchmarks), objectives, etc., for a specified period of time. In the case of charter schools, parents researching a particular school should read that particular school's charter because it will tell you what the school is obligated to deliver.<br><br><div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
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<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">In my memeory and experieince, there was a European tradition to Waldorf holidays and celebrations, like May Day, Easter, etc. including a Christmas pagent that included Adam and Eve. How does a charter school seperate these traditions from religion?</td>
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All public schools have the same issues here, magnet, charter or traditional. Every public school administrator in this state, I'd venture to say, is given the same guidance and restrictions (strictly delineated by the State Board of Ed) because every public school administrator is facing these questions all the time. Is Halloween okay? Is a Christmas tree okay? Is it okay if the HS choir sings "God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman" or "Silent Night"?<br><br>
Private Waldorf schools aren't bound to specific festivals or celebrations, but being private, they aren't prevented from them either. Waldorf schools have traditions that have developed over the years (beginning in a more homogeneous culture and predating by 50 years at least our current social sensitivity about these issues) , but each school isn't required to celebrate them, nor to do so in some specific religiously tinged manner. I think public Waldorf methods schools try to meet the letter of both philosophies.<br><br><div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
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<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">Our local school goes up to 8th. I cannot afford to send her to private HS. How would a Waldorf schooled child do in a transition to a public HS?</td>
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I do have a high schooler and know of many privately schooled Waldorf students who transitioned after eighth grade to other schools. They're doing just fine. The pressure is actually the other way around by high school. Waldorf high schools, imo, are much more challenging academically than the mainstream public high schools. Waldorf high schools I know of are tougher for students than the mainstream.<br><br><br><div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
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<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">We are not a TV free family, not even close. We aim to be more natural minded, but aren't always. Would we be very out of place at this school</td>
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Varies. The TV question figures Big in my observation, not so much in whether it puts the child "out of place" but because it is ultimately probably one of the most significant influences in anybody's childhood these days, Waldorf or not. How much of a problem this raises in any particular school varies a great deal--this goes for private Waldorf ed schools and any other school really.<br><br><div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
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<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">If my child is academically gifted/advanced, will she be adequately challenged in this setting?<br><br>
Does Waldorf curriculum still have a Euro-centric approach, or has that changed since my childhood? (for example, we learned German and Spanish as foreign languages-but German isn't very useful here)<br></td>
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Ask at this school. The Waldorf methods schools I know of don't teach German but do Spanish. In California there is no question but that Spanish is useful.<br><br><div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
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<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">Can anyone elxplain more about the philosophy that the teachers are trained in? I know a tiny bit about it, but have a hard time understanding how it influences their teaching style.</td>
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I'd recommend you ask. Public schools that adopt Waldorf methods aren't 'controlled' in any sense--it's not like there's any criteria to speak of allowing them to call themselves "Waldorf". Public schools who describe themselves as Waldorf schools are probably doing so on their own--the only public school I've heard of given the legal license to do this is the Urban Waldorf School in Milwaukee WI.<br><br><div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
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<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">Anything else important you can tell me about Waldorf that might help me be prepared for this visit?</td>
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If you're assessing a public school, the emphasis should be on the public school restrictions, not Waldorf school restrictions because Waldorf schools have no control whatsoever over what goes on in the public schools.
 

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We are in private Waldorf and our kids take Japanese and Spanish. Most of the all school celebrations are more Christian and European. Spanish/Mexican/Hispanic holidays are celebrated in Spanish class throughout the whole school. Japanese holidays are celebrated in the same manner through Japanese class. Many teachers incorporate other holidays and fesitivals into their classes. In 3rd grade, the Jewish holidays figure prominently. Our oldest child's class celebrates Kwanzaa every year.<br><br>
I don't know about charter schools, but TV is big issue at our school. It becomes an issue because many people choose Waldorf to get away from TV and other media influences so a child that watches a lot of TV (or sometimes even a little) brings it to school and causes disruptions for some of the children. People pay a lot of money for tuition and many get upset when what they are paying for isn't what they are getting. The TV issue will greatly depend on your school and on your child's personality as well as the fellow classmates.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I should specify a little. I have taught at a charter school, it was a Montessori methods school. A charter school IS a public school, in the sense that they must meet the state standards and many other restrictions, although union membership and staffing is different, the teachers need state credentials, at least in my state. I found that it was VERY difficult to reconcile parts of the Montessori philosophy with the state standards, and Im wondering if it might not be the same for a Waldorf school?<br><br>
As far as the transition to HS, Im wondering about academic rigor, but also about socialization, learning methods (do Waldorf schooled kids have difficulty with switching to 6-7 teachers during the day after having one all along?)<br><br>
As far as the holiday issue, I know this is an issue in all schools, I am just remembering a particularly European Christian slant to the celebrations, which would be a problem for our family.<br><br>
And the TV issue, since this school is free, and a public school, with admission by lottery, I realize that many families there will have an interest in Waldorf and Waldorf methods, but they cant really have admission requirements in the same way a private school can.<br><br>
I guess I will find out more by going to the school! But any more advice and help would be greatly appreciated.
 

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<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">As far as the transition to HS, Im wondering about academic rigor, but also about socialization, learning methods (do Waldorf schooled kids have difficulty with switching to 6-7 teachers during the day after having one all along?)</td>
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Hi Lousli,<br><br>
I went to a waldorf school for a couple of years, my daughter for 13 and my granddaughter is now in Kindergarten. No school I've ever encountered had one teacher for a class all day in the grades. Special subjects are a big thing at waldorf schools. Children have teachers for eurythmy, crafts, p.e., foreign languages, and so on.<br><br>
Sorry, no first hand experience of magnet or charter schools.<br>
Deborah
 

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In regards to transition to high school most kids do very well with a few exceptions that struggle in grade school and continued to struggle in high school. Several kids who have left in 7th grade for various reasons and gone to public schools have skipped a grade and gone directly into high school. It has been my experience that by the upper grades, Waldorf kids are in general ahead of public school kids.
 

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My younger two children go to a Waldorf inspired focus school, so it isn't exactly a Charter school. They do some of the festivals without any Christian slant to them. They do the Lantern Festival, the Spiral Walk and a Spring Festival. They also do a very touching Rose Festival on the first day of school, but I don't think that is Waldorf, at least they never did that at the private Waldorf school my DD attended (Pre-K) or the homebased Waldorf Preschool my DS went to which was "very" Waldorf.<br><br>
In our school, they are much more academic in the 1st and 2nd grade but utilize natural materials in the class room, they have main lesson books and do some Eurythmy. The also keep the same teacher from 1st through 3rd grade and 4th and 5th grade. The school is also provides and arts based integrated education and is influenced by Howard Gardner's Multiple Intelligences so Waldorf is just one part of the whole.<br><br>
Frankly, the school is changing, because of NCLB and other restrictions and Government standards, for example they had to introduce report card this year.<br><br>
I am actually not putting my DS into 1st grade at the school. DD will stay through 3rd grade and we then assess the situation.
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>Rhonwyn</strong></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">Bummer! It sounds like your school had a good thing going.</div>
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Yes, it is a bummer but unfortunately it is beyond the control of the lead teachers, teachers and parents. We are all having to make compromises that are taking the school further and further from the original vision. There are a great many distruntled parents at the school now. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/greensad.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="greensad">
 

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We are in the process of trying to get my son into the new Waldorf Methods charter school that will be opening this year in Portland. <a href="http://www.portlandvillageschool.org/" target="_blank">http://www.portlandvillageschool.org/</a><br>
I was very pleasantly surprised to learn that they were planning on sticking so closely to the Waldorf curriculum. Academics will be delayed until 1st grade. The primary lesson subjects will be taught in blocks with students creating their own main lesson books. Art, music, and movement will be integrated into every subject. Even the same subjects will be taught in the same progression as in a private Waldorf school. The main difference seemed to be having to remove specific references to God from the curriculum. In 3rd grade, for instance, the children will study creation stories from around the world rather than old testiment stories. The festivals will be treated more as a study in comparitive cultures as well.<br><br>
Because this school is a charter school they are freed from much of the curriculum requirements the district imposes on it's neighborhood schools. They are still responsible for proving that their students are meeting district guidelines though. Children will not be issued grades, but formal assessment records will have to be kept, and the students will have to participate in state standardized testing.<br><br>
To me this will be the best of both worlds. Waldorf methodology and subjects, minus the overt spiritual content, within a free public school. I very much hope that our son gets picked in the lottery.
 

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I'm sorry to hear that Rhonwyn. There are lots of folks here in Oregon that are not too fond of charter schools either. I attended a Portland Public School's board meeting in which 4 charter schools were voted on. There was some pretty angry, outspoken opposition to charter schools of any kind. In fact, on that particular night all 4 charters were voted down by the board. It really came as a shock to me. Where I am from in California, Charter Schools are an accepted and welcome addition to public schools. Many neighborhood schools have been saved from closing by sharing their facilities with charter schools.<br><br>
Interestingly, when I was taking Waldorf teacher training classes I did hear some negative comments about Waldorf method charter schools from some of my teachers. They seemed to think that a Waldorf public school was a bit of an oxymoron. The charter school we've applied to has alot of support from the local Waldorf and Anthroposophical community, so I'm content that it will be strongly rooted in Waldorf methodology.
 

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There is a lot of controversy over Waldorf charter schools for a couple of reasons. One being that Steiner didn't want the state to have any say over the schools. Some people object to removal of certain aspects of Waldorf such as the spirituality that must be done in order to make it a public school (separation of church and state). Waldorf charter schools are often called Waldorf lite or watered down Waldorf. There are also a lot of people who believe that some Waldorf is better than no Waldorf and that many private schools have really gotten away from being a school for everyone because they are so pricey. I fall into this camp. I would like to see Waldorf available to everyone who wants it. Our school will be $10,000 a year next year for the 1st child in the family for the 1st through 8th grade. Less and less people can aford that. It is a struggle for us and we have made a lot of sacrifices.
 

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Good news! We just found out that we made the lottery and have been accepted into the Portland Village School, Waldorf Methods Charter! Now we have to start seriously considering whether this is the best placement for our son. My husband and I really like the breadth of education that is provided by Waldorf, but we also worry that it might be too restrictive for a high energy boy like ours. Our other top school choice right now is a Free School. Are we schizophrenic or what? <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/lol.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="lol">
 

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It's a private free school, but by relying on parent work/trade to help run things, the founders/teachers have kept the cost very low (under $2000 a year). One of the teachers is a Waldorf grad too, so some Waldorf curriculum does make it's way in, for instance the Math gnomies have made an appearance or two. Oh decisions, decisions!
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
A quick update:<br>
We will be finding out in the next week (most likely within the next 3-4 days) if the Waldorf methods school has accepted us in the lottery. I still have a great deal of uneasyness about it, and even though I visited the school and asked a ton of questions, I am still unsure about some things.<br><br>
I guess it bothers me a lot that the teachers are trained in Anthroposophy (hope I spelled that right) but very little information is shared with the parents about it. I know that this school has downplayed that because it is a public school, but small touches of it are evidenced in the school when you visit. I am a former teacher, and I think that the philosophy by which you guide the children in your class should be very open and apparent to parents, although I also admit that it is more difficult when the founder of the philospohy wrote many many books that not every parent has the time or patience to read.<br><br>
I feel that the good aspects of the school are that there is not such a huge push for academics early (but this also concerns me, if that makes any sense), that there is art, music, oral storytelling, gardening, handiwork, a peaceful enviroment, etc. I feel that "huge" issues such as potential religious/spiritual indoctrination, bullying, abuse, etc. will most likely not come into play as the school is public. These are concerns I have read about here many times, and I think that not every Waldorf school has these problems, but I certainly want to keep my daughter from involvement in anything like that.<br><br>
Now my concerns are more minor, but still there. The school does a homevisit prior to the start of kinder so that the teacher can get to know your family. While this is a nice idea in theory, I wonder how the teacher will react to the TV being right in the center of our living room, the first room in our home you see as you enter. The tv and computer useage is something I'd like to limit, not restrict. I am concerned about the "sameness" of things. Same snack every Monday, same types of art all over the school, children potentially classified into one of four temperments, room for imagination, but only if you imagine what we want you to.<br><br>
I worry because all the Waldorf grads I know (and I only know 3 personally) didn't enter into successful careers. My close friend tells me that none of her classmates did. While my daughter can be whatever the hell she wants to be as an adult, I want to make sure the OPPORTUNITY is there for her to do it (so if she wants to be a physicist, she can). But all of these people graduated from private Waldorf schools, not the public one.<br><br>
Another worry is the delayed academics, as my daughter will be a young kindergartener and may be asked to do another year of kinder. Which means she would begin first grade at nearly 7 and may not read well until 8 or 9. She already knows all her letters, the sounds they make, and can sound out a few simple words. Will she be relentlessly bored by the age of 9? Don't they have to meet certain standards as a public school?<br><br>
I am concerned about the same teacher for several grades and the transition to a large public high school with several teachers throughout the day. Although I do understand that they will be exposed to other teachers for language, handiwork, etc., I still feel it is very different to have a teacher with whom they spend most of their day and bond with as oppossed to several different teachers throughout the day. And if we have to move during elementary school, we can't afford and actually don't believe in paying that kind of money for private school, so would she be horribly behind academically and a social outcast?<br><br>
I am concerned about all these Waldorf lifestyle changes without explaining to me <b>why</b>. If my kid doesn't want to wear a coat, why do you insist that she isn't warm enough? Why only grains as snacks? Why do you have to imagine gnomes and fairies and not dinosaurs and spaceships or doctor's offices? Will there be a problem with my daughter being vaxed? Being left handed?<br><br>
I guess I will know if we even got into the school on Tues or Wed next week, so maybe I will try not to stress about until then. But if anyone can offer insight on this, I'd be thrilled.
 

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Wow so many concerns! My 8 year old and 6 year old attend a Waldorf inspired public school too and I really haven't experienced any of the concerns you are voicing. My 8 year old did repeat kindergarten because her birthday was one day before the cut of date and while she could have gone either way, both her teacher and I felt another year in kindergarten was the right thing to do. She started 1st grade a month before she turned 7. She isn't the oldest in her class and I now know beyond any doubt it was the right decision for her. But you don't need to worry about his until closer to the end of next school year, so I would let that one go for a while. I think it will become apparent if she does need an extra year or not.<br><br>
As for academics, I honestly think all public schools don't expect too much academically, at least that is my experience, but the school my two attend rates "excellent" in the state standarized tests and they don't teach to the test. The one thing I have heard is that many of the children do find it hard to sit through the classes at middle school after being in a more relaxed teaching enviroment, but I am sure they soon learn things are different in middle school! <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/lol.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="lol"><br><br>
My DD has has the same teacher 1st through 3rd grade and it has been great for her. The teacher knows her (and her classmates) so well now, it is wonderful to see such a strong bond between teacher and students.<br><br>
Oh, our school doesn't push the jacket thing, nearly as much as a "true" Waldorf school does, although they do discourage clothes with cartoon characters on them. While TV and computers aren't banned, they do recommend they are kept to a minimum. I have been through the home visit and I can honestly say, the teacher isn't there to judge and I am sure s/he will probably see TVs in most houses.<br><br>
Having said all of this, I am actually pulling both of mine out of the school next year. Not because it is a bad school at all. In DS's case I have found a school that I believe is much better fit for him; a very, very small private comtemplative elementary school. He will be in a mixed 1st/2nd grade of 15 children with two extremely experienced teachers, one Waldorf and one Montessori. He is now getting extremely bored in kindergarten and tells me he only likes doing his letter books and number books and playing soccer. I am teaching him to read at home and he is already able to multiply, so he is ready for a more challenging academic envrionment. Being with 2nd graders will allow him to stretched academically if he so wants. I have decided to homeschool DD, even though in many ways it breaks my heart to pull her out of a school she loves, with children she loves and teachers she loves. I just want her out of the public school system and DS's private school doesn't have a 3rd/4th grade yet, and unfortunately even if it did, we can't quite stretch to affording two in private school. But this may well be possible in a year or so, if homeschooling doesn't work for us.<br><br>
Enough about me! My best advice is to follow your mama gut, if you are not comfortable with the "Waldorf" school, don't send her.
 
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