I am currently doing some research on private school education.
The Waldorf schools are expensive and non-traditional, emphasizing the whole child. I have heard both pros and cons. While I like some of their philosophy, I'm not sure I agree with their view towards technology. Does anyone here have direct experience with a Waldorf school education? What are your thoughts?
Well, I'll give this one more try before I let this thread wither into nothingness. anyone?
Yes, actually. My twin nephews went to a Waldorf school for a few years. There are pro and cons. I have a lot going on, so maybe you could ask specific questions.
My sister and brother-in-law ended up leaving their Waldorf school in Seattle for a variety of reasons. After I make dinner I can share their story a bit, if you'd like...
In the meantime, perhaps you have some specific questions you'd like answered???
Hi WS, nice to see you.
Yes, I do have a few questions.
How are academics taught?
Technology is not emphasized?
Do these children use technology in their homes?
If you can share why they left the school, it may be helpful.
One more, is spirituality taught in school?
Academics weren't what my sister had hoped! In fact, that was my sister's biggest gripe. They still didn't know how to read in second grade. The school theorized "all kids eventually learn to read" and primarily read TO them. They teach mainly by pictorial methods and experience. Science is hand-on through gardening and experimentation. They also do a lot of plays, drama is big for teaching history and folk tales, etc... ART IS HUGE!
Technology is practically taboo. No TV, video games or electronic anything at home. Toys should be wooden.
Their school didn't teach spirituality. My sister would have had a fit.
They were originally placed in Waldorf because they liked the emphasis on art and creativity. The boys were knitting in preschool! They are twins who were born very premature, one has mild cerebral palsy. So, they worried about putting them in a "conventional school". They didn't want them to feel behind. Trouble was, they just weren't learning any of the conventional academics. As I mentioned, they still didn't know how to read in second grade. They felt that was unacceptable, since they are clearly bright kids. Now they are in a private "conventional" school and WAY below the curve.
I should write a hub on the topic, and I'm running out of time. It's a great school for a certain constituent of kids. Ones that are more independent learners, I'd say. It's fabulous for kids who are artistic. It's great for kids who don't thrive in a regular academic setting and learn through experience and hand-on methods.
Does that make sense?
I have a cousin-in-law who had his children go to a Waldorf preschool, but then they transitioned into a public school (a magnet school for gifted children in Pennsylvania).
I don't have first-hand experience with the program, but they loved the Waldorf philosophy for the preschool years. They decided it wasn't a good fit as the children got older (probably since their older child is a math and computer whiz, and the anti-technology philosophy doesn't jive with his abilities and needs as a pre-adolescent).
I have read that this is one of the biggest drawbacks of their schools, and I can easily understand their concerns.
There is a Waldorf school in the area and I'm considering asking for a tour to see it in action, and ask a few questions. I know from working in education that it's one thing to espouse a certain school philosophy, and sometimes quite different seeing it in action and evaluating the benefits. Websites easily make schools sound very ideal and yet it's hard to find schools that match exactly their ideals.
I don't believe in pushing young children to read, but not reading in 2nd grade in 2011 is a handicap to the child, imo.
At some point in the not too distant future, there will no longer be books in the classroom. It will all be technology driven. Whether we easily accept that or not, it doesn't change the reality that it will happen, and is happening.
I know for a while these schools were very popular, but I think more parents are starting to question the long-term effects.
I asked about the spirituality because of the Waldorf belief in anthroposophy. I believe it is woven into the way the schools teach and work with the students.
Thanks a lot, both of you, for your responses.
Waldorf education has many wonderful points and is a well thought out method of education.
Three of my four children attended a Waldorf School for five years. My daughter has thrived by this method of learning and has received very high scores on national achievement tests.
The elimination of media is of a great benefit to young children, media forces a child to be passive and this hinders learning. Media is introduced when the kids get older and have mastered reading.
I wrote a comparison between Waldorf and Montessori that might be helpful to you.
I just glanced in the forums and saw your response. Thank you. I will gladly read your hub. I am more familiar with the Montessori style, and have worked in a school that mixed the style with a more creative curriculum.
That's wonderful to hear how well your children have progressed with the Waldorf education. I do have questions, so I'll hop over to your hub. Thanks for posting!
All three of my kids went to Montessori schools, and I wouldn't have changed that for anything. Despite the fact that the system lets kids work at their own pace, my kids all wound up reading by Kindergarten age.
The Montessori philosophy works and I wish more schools would incorporate the methods. Especially in the primary grades, it's important for the kids to actively be using their minds, and improving their cognitive skills. The educational materials used are excellent.
I have had indirect experience with a Waldorf school. My understanding is that it varies from school to school. There are some basics covered by each but the owner can change the dynamics of a particular one. The one I am familiar with is definitely against any use of media, to such extent that you as a parent are supposed to sing a paper saying that your children won't watch TV, use PC or listen to CD and radio. Which, in my case is a huge disadvantage because I love music and without it my life wouldn't be complete. The philosophy is rooted in 19 century when there was no such thing as media. However, even though I don't encourage my children to watch TV, I am aware we live in a different time and it is not always possible and smart to avoid technology. If I kept my daughters without any exposure to media they wouldn't know many beautiful pieces of classical music and wouldn't have danced to it.
Waldorf schools don't encourage reading before the second grade and are slow with introducing academics. I have a friend who switched her son from Waldorf school after first grade and he didn't read or write at all. It fits some people and the emphasis on natural wooden toys is nice if you consider it for a preschool but I am not sure about elementary school. My feelings about this school are mixed. I see a lot of snobbism among parents who sent their kids there.
The teachers don't always intervene when a little one is hurt by his peer but believe children should resolve it themselves.
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