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We are considering a Waldorf school for my homeschooled son for next year (2nd grade). I am very familiar with Waldorf and anthroposophy and agree with most everything in both of those, including most of the "controversial" subjects. We currently do a Waldorf/Enki style unschooling at home.

However, he's very left-brained. He wants to know why behind everything, how stuff works, how to put things together, the science behind everything. No matter how I circumvent the answer, he insists and gets deeply frustrated if it's not enough. He simply is not satisfied by the "magical", age-appropriate answer that he is likely to get in a Waldorf school. I have two concerns about this:

1. That he will never get a satisfactory answer from his teachers and will be frustrated.

2. That his teachers will view him as being disconnected with the "spiritual nature of a child", which for him, is absolutely NOT the case. He is intuitive, sensitive and one of the most spiritual beings I've met at this age.

Have any of you experienced similar situations? Did it work or not? How might his teachers handle these scenarios? How could I approach this as his mother? I want to make sure that Waldorf is appropriate for *him*, yk?

Thanks!
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Anyone?
Please? I really am super-supportive of Waldorf and anthroposophy. I completely understand the reasoning behind being in the heart rather the head. I totally agree with that. In fact, my younger son will do GREAT at a Waldorf school. But do all kids fit this philosophy in the same way?
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by mariposita View Post
But do all kids fit this philosophy in the same way?
That is a big question. In theory, I would say that teachers should be able to make the philosophy fit each child (and not the other way round), as long as the family was supportive of the philosophy. If the family is undermining the philosophy at home things get complicated, but then that is not the case with you at all, so it doesn't matter right now.

I think Waldorf can work for the kind of child you describe; in fact I think it should work! However, I think your concerns are valid, too. Some teachers do think in the way that you described. And, as always, it really depends on the teacher. There is no generic answer. I would advice you to find the specific school your son would be in, find the specific teacher, and ask them these very questions.

There's a child in my class that I think of as 'the little scientist' sometimes. He is full of wonder for the world, but this wonder is expressed mostly through a geeky love of facts and explanations. Which is fine by me, I like geeky! The point I am trying to make is that, despite what a lot of Waldorf teachers think, explanations and facts don't always, necessarily get in the way of fostering wonder. In fact for some children it is helpful.

I remember we had a conversation about this in college, about presenting young (and also older) children with 'magical' pictures of natural phenomena -- and while I don't disagree with this entirely, I always thought that in a way this gets in the way of the actual magic that is out there. If a teacher doesn't see the inherent poetry in the fact that the moon pulls the sea towards it as it travels around the world, and they need to make up a story about it to make it more magical, that is their loss. But I don't like the message it is giving children, that these things are actually quite boring in themselves and we have to magic them up. I think these things are inherently wonderful and we only need to see this and gently point it out, in a way that is appropriate for each particular child, not for some ideal child but for the one right in front of us.

I'd write more but I really need to go and teach that class, I'll come back to this later today!
 

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Yes, the individual teacher is everything and we absolutely plan on speaking with her several times before we enroll.

A friend of our family is also a Waldorf teacher at the same school (but in the Children's Garden) and I have been able to ask her some candid questions about how DS would fit, which has been very helpful. We ran out of time yesterday before I could ask this question, so we'll get to that another time.

I do hope that his teacher is similar to you, DimitraDaisy, in that she applies the approach to the individual child, rather than trying to force him into a role that squelches his personality. He is very much like your "little scientist" - full of wonder and amazement. He is very connected to Spirit and is still sensitive and very much in touch with his heart. However, he is curious about details about the world around him and asks a lot of questions.

ITA with you about the inherent magic in nature - it's a marvelous, amazing thing, isn't it?

When I speak to the teacher I plan on asking her what she would recommend that we do over the next 8 months of unschooling to support his transition. I feel that would truly give us a perspective on what she expects of him and of us, and we can make our choice off of that.

He is advanced for his age in some things, like reading. We have no idea how it happened - we never taught letters or reading, but one day he was reading street signs (complicated ones). He doesn't sit down and read books and doesn't ask us to even read to him, but there's no denying his very high level of reading.

However, he is on par with Waldorf in math, writing, the arts, handwork, music, etc.

I still don't know if this is going to be a good fit for him because he will be knowledgable beyond his years. I just hope his teacher is as understanding as you in recognizing the individual child for what he is.

We live in a large city and many of the pare€€nts there enroll their kids because it is a beautiful, prestigious private school, not because they believe in Waldorf or anthroposophy. If I were the teacher, I would prefer to have a "little scientist" in my class whose parents are well-read in Steiner, support Waldorf education and are willing to work with the teacher. Versus a parent who doesn't believe in the philosophy (or doesn't know it to begin with), but their child fits the mold exactly.

Any other insight?
 

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If he's a second grader he's not likely to hear "magic wand waving" answers to his questions, I hope anyway. But the education isn't intentionally stuffing answers to the heads of their students either. What they try to do is make a space in the student's learning for the student to develop as "little scientists". Until about the seventh grade this leans more toward their development as experimenters and keen observers more than "answer knowers". A lot of what Waldorf does is perfect for the budding scientists, like the farming and the building. And if your child still loves stories then he should be fine in second grade.

But he might find the sciences pretty babyish a little bit later in the early Waldorf grades if he's very advanced in that area. The curriculum for students this age is concentrated in what Waldorf calls their "feeling life", and is much more artistic and poetic leaning than science fact-based. Take the 4th grade animal block, for example-which is designed for this feeling life, and definitely not your Bill Nye the Science Guy stuff. You might check out the main lesson books like this one to see what's ahead and decide if you think it will be a good fit. It's just I don't think you need to worry that the teachers will see something wrong with a boy who is very curious how things work and so on. Heaven forbid, they shouldn't anyway.
 

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ITA, Second grade would be less fairies and magic dust.
I think you should definitely go to the school and ask if you can meet with the current 2nd grade teacher (or perhaps the first grade teacher if that is who he would have) first.
 

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I've been trying to think of something meaningful to add and I haven't come up with something, hence the silence... I still think your concerns are valid, there are teachers who might react this way, but there is no point in speculating and worrying about it before you have met the actual teacher. Also, although they are valid concerns, they're not likely to become a big problem.

Unless the teacher is particularly narrow-minded, you can probably explain to them that your son might need more than a magical explanation at times. You can show that you understand Waldorf and the whole spiritual life of the child idea and you very much think your son's love of explanations is not getting in his way of that. You can probably also explain to your son that what the teacher says is part of the picture, but not necessarily all of it (or something along the lines), so that he can accept it and then perhaps come to you for more.

The same goes for 'Man and animal' main lesson for example. A child can happily do all the writing and painting and drawing that comes with it and be perfectly happy if they weren't expecting a science main lesson -- which it is not. And you can supplement at home. The children in my class all seem to have microscopes -- and they're only six and seven years old... They don't really have a clue about how they work. They know they make things bigger and they know there are these things called 'cells' that they think they are able to see, and that's the extend of that. What I am trying to say is that, at this age, it is all observation anyway. It looks like science, and it might freak certain teachers out, but really it is done in the spirit of observation. The children look at all these things around them and they go, "Wow! Isn't this amazing?!"

I am guessing that your son's "explanations" are essentially observation, too -- just more detailed, in depth observation. I haven't met a six or seven year old who really thinks in a scientific way. I really do think that these capacities don't develop until later. But some children are fascinated by science and scientists -just like other children are fascinated by babies and kindergarten teachers!- and they want to know more about these things. As long as you take care that the explanations or facts or whatever is not moving them away from the experience and into their heads --which does not necessarily happen, but could-- then it is absolutely fine.
 
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