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Old 11-11-2011, 08:10 AM
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Default Jennifer Dawn-??'s about Waldorf School

I noticed in the TV thread that you mentioned your DD goes to a Waldorf School.

(I didn't want to hi-jack the thread so I made a new one. I also posted on the forum rather than PM'ing you in case anyone else is interested in this approach.)

I am currently studying the Waldorf approach in school and am just curious how old your DD is and why you chose to enroll her in a Waldorf school.

One thing that really interests me is the fact that the children have the same teacher for each of the 3 stages of development. Each stage lasts 7 years so that is really sort of unique and I think a good way to really get to know the whole child.

I would be really interested in hearing some first hand experiences about this method.
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Old 11-11-2011, 12:00 PM
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that sounds interesting.
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Old 11-11-2011, 12:08 PM
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I've read a little about Waldorf.

The principals that I like are:

the nurturing caregiver being most important in early years (the mommy type figure), going about the daily chores with the kids, baking bread every morning together.

I like the soft fluffy things (felted wool) and the beautiful wooden toys.

I like the following rhythms of the day with songs and stories (though I haven't read much on this part of it, I need to learn more).

I like the following of the seasons and the nature table idea too.

I like the exclusion of media (as much as possible) in early years.

These are things I'd like to work on incorporating into my own program.

The classrooms are breathtaking though...like little wonderlands.
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Old 11-11-2011, 12:17 PM
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I will say the occult-y/spiritual aspect is a bit odd to me but I do like plenty of the principles. I have not read into Steiner's work at all.

I did find this article on my facebook wall from a Waldorf school just now and it is really sweet.


http://www.lifewaysnorthamerica.org/...nthia-aldinger
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Old 11-11-2011, 12:19 PM
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Here is a good site that really covers alot in regards to what the Waldorf approach is about.

http://www.whywaldorfworks.org/01_WhyWaldorf/index.asp
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Old 11-11-2011, 01:18 PM
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I would love hearing about how others have applied these principles to their home daycare. Sounds nice....
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Old 11-11-2011, 04:51 PM
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There's a book called "Home Away from Home" by Cynthia Aldinger and Mary O'Connell that is about integrating Waldorf philosophy into your home daycare. I haven't read the whole thing yet but plan to soon!!

I have a nature table and do wool felting workshops and apply a lot of their philosophies to my daycare. It's very interesting. I'd love to send my DD there but it only goes to grade 8 in my town
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Old 11-12-2011, 12:19 AM
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Oh, I have no idea how I didn't see this. I'm sorry! My dd is in kindergarten o we are very new to Waldorf but I love it already. We originally were trying to get my son in the school but his class is full. Somehow we managed to win the lottery for my daughter and I am so thankful.

The above descriptions are pretty accurate. The classroom has a very homey feel. In fact my daughter slips many times and calls it home. Because I'm still learning about it, I am slowly trying to integrate aspects into my daycare. The thing I love most about it is the calmness the children have. It is amazing the level of peace I feel amount the teachers and students. I questioned the religious aspect of it, but being that it is a charter school my daughter goes to, they really don't have the religious part in it. It is very focused on seasons. Everything they do seems to revolve around the rhythm of the seasons. Songs they learn, crafts, and stories they tell all have to do with the current season. Then when the season is over, those songs etc go away with the season.

I talked to my dd teacher about how my dd was sad to see a certain song to go away because it was one of her favorites, and the teacher told me that it is good for the children at this age to be able to say goodbye to things, that life goes on even when things change. This in turn helps them to cope with more difficult changes as they get older.

They focus on myths and legends and story telling greatly in the first years. They believe that imagination and physicality are the most important things for children to put their energy into. The stories the teachers tell are from memory. No picture books. They want the children to use their imaginations. They tell the same story everyday for at least one week, usually for two weeks in a row, everyday. And these are not simple little stories. Theyse are elaborate with large vocabulary that the children learn purely from listening to the same story over and over. For example, one story talked about a girl on the precipice of the mountain. They never tell the children what precipice (sp?) means, but over time they unfderstand and build an amazing vocabulary.

My daughter goes on a walk around the neighborhood and to parks every single day with her class. They spend at least half of their school day outside in nature. They even go outside when it is raining, fully geared up in rainwear of course, a requirement at the school. My daughter has become so much more physically strong. They also keep a rythym For their snacks. Monday is rice day, Tuesday is soup day, Wednesday is bread day (they bake it together, molding heir dough in whatever shape they choose), Thursday is muffin day and Friday is millet day. They feed the those whole grains along with fruits and vegetables. My daughter eats so much better now. At home, she asks for brown rice with fairy dusk sprinkled on it (brewers yeast) for snacks at home.

I love this school, but this post is getting long so I bettere go. Feel free to ask more questions. Pardon the spelling errors. My husband iPad doesn't have the spell check on and I'm a terrible speller.
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Old 11-12-2011, 07:55 AM
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Wow! I honestly think that sounds amazing.....I sort of feel calm just reading it! LOL!! I like that they focus so much on the seasons and on nature.

The story telling reminds me of Native American's in that a big part of their culture is based on educating their youth by using Storytellers. These storytellers are the teachers for the younger generations and the stories they tell are myths, ledgends and simple favorites that all have meaning, morals and points to them that teach the kids in the same manner that you described at your DD's school.

I also like that they casually integrate loss (leaving songs/stories behind) as part of the leanring process because that seems like such a gentle way for the kids to expience loss and grasp the concept itself.

It is fantastic that they go outside regardless of the weather. It shows that it is beneficial to the kids, as you mentioned her physical stamina is so good. It is too bad that people seem to think it is only ok to go outside when it is sunny and nice. The other weather days have alot to offer as well.

How do they measure the progress the kids make against the states early learning standards? Do they have conferances so you can see how well your child is doing in the areas of literature/reading, math, history etc? Are the kids actually in grades or do they just stay together throughout the first stage of development(7 yrs?) and not really pay attention to what level (grade) they are at?

Is there any type of testing involved with their learning?

I think it sounds really neat and I love the idea of having such a peacefull classroom as well as having the kids be able to experience so much nature and the natural rythyms of not only themsleves but the world as well.

I do have to wonder how they manage challenging behaviors or any special needs in the classroom.

Thank you for your response! It is nice to be able to hear about it first hand and not just read about it.
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Old 11-12-2011, 09:50 AM
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I imagine private Waldorf schools have more freedom in how they do things, so i can only speak to my charter school that gets checked up by the state. The children are in regular grades, K-12, but they are expected to be 6 months older than the state requires. so for example, here you can start school if you are 5 by December 1st i think it is. While you can start Waldorf at that age, you cannot advance to 1st grade until you are 6 by May first. So about half the kids do Kindergarten two years in a row. They are basically insuring all their students are 18 when they graduate. So my oldest daughter who is 6 in January will do one year while my older dd will turn 6 in July will be doing two years. Kindergarten (for us) is the one class that the teacher is different than the rest of the grades. Once you start 1st grade, unless something out of the ordinary happened, you have the same teacher through out the grades. Our school only goes to 8th grade. Then there is a separate Waldorf high school pretty far away we wont be able to go to.

Their way of doing the actual academics is totally different than regular school. They don't learn their letters until 2nd grade and yet the kids are multiplying in first grade. They teach concrete math concepts earlier because children are more able to understand it, then the more abstract, like reading, later on. When they do get into the academics, they teach in blocks. Blocks are a period of time, say 6 weeks, where they will focus on one thing. Say it is Rome. For 6 weeks, all they will talk about is Rome. They play Roman games, the learn Roman letters, they sing Roman songs, they, depending on the age, will write Roman themed stories, and they integrate whatever math and science they are doing into Rome too. They will dress in togas and eat Roman food. They are fully immersed in Rome so that after that 6 weeks, those children KNOW Rome.

They also do not use text books, at least in the elementary grades. They make their own text books. So while in first grade before they know letters, their text book consists of drawings, and as they progress through school, their text books get more complicated, changing to amazing illustrations and written reports that are better than anything I've seen come though the public schools. All of the work they do through out the year is bound into a book at then end of the year, becoming their "text book."

I was at the school the other day when I saw the third grade classes building little huts with branches and twigs. They had gone through the neighbors hood, and park, gathering all the broken branches and turning them into this hut. Its a project they worked on all week. I LOVE how they are always hands on. It is a great type of school for boys who have a hard time sitting still. They also do daily handwork, knitting kinds of things. I was walking through the school, seeing the 6th graders, boys and girls, sitting in the sunshine, some on the grass, some in chairs, chatting and sewing blankets together. When do you see that?? Every Thursday my dd is outside ALL day, taking an extra long walk to the river and having a picnic there.

The difficulty they have is the state mandated testing still applies to them, so they fail miserably in the first few grades in writing and reading because the children haven't learned it yet, which in effect, causes them to have a bad school rating. But by the time they are testing in Middle school, they have caught up and advanced beyond the regular public schools. Of course the reason why they test so low in the younger grades isn't shown in the school reports so people who don't understand the way of waldorf see that and think it is a crummy school.

I have a 45 minute conference on Saturday, about what, i'm not sure since they aren't learning the basic academic concepts. I'm used to my son where they talked about how my son is doing in each area, math, reading, etc as well as his behavior. Now for my dd, they have an even longer conference scheduled and she doesn't even do the typical academics! They are pro-family involvement, always encouraging parents to be fully involved in the life of their children and in the classroom. And they are very strict about media use and the children eating healthy. So far there is nothing i don't like about it.
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