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Hippie Schools Rule

September 15, 2010

Many kids spent last week sharpening pencils, loading up on glue sticks and lugging home a suitcase full of homework. Thing were a bit different at our house: my 7-year-old spent his days knitting a case for his recorder, tossing bean bags in the woods and jumping rope for math class. He goes to a Waldorf school and although the methods are alternative to the uninitiated – and can seem downright wackadoo – we adore our little hippie school.

Friends and family had a difficult time understanding why we’d chosen a system that eschews textbooks for student-crafted lesson books, doesn’t assign homework until later grades and keeps children with the same teacher for eight years. Even for us it was a massive leap of faith, but we’d seen our uber-sensitive, quirky little boy flailing in at a public school – albeit an excellent one, with fantastic teachers – and being told he required summer school for “grade one preparedness” was the final straw.

There were definitely some adjustments, especially in our expectations (kids don’t read until grade two or three) but we soon realized that the fundamentals were being taught as pieces of a larger puzzle – one that worked to develop the physical, creative, emotional, spiritual and intellectual potential of each child. My husband (the son of a math professor) was placated knowing that Waldorf grads consistently score in the top percentile on SAT tests and have held leadership positions everywhere from Harvard to NASA.

The transformation wasn’t overnight, and he still had mornings of pleading not to go, but by the end of grade one, my son had changed: he was more confident, inquisitive and assertive. This was noted not only by his teacher, but also other teachers and fellow parents.

I’m not knocking public, separate or other private schools – it’s totally dependent on the child and family circumstances. We could throw our daughter into any school setting and I’m confident she’d be running the place by the end of week one. Waldorf was simply the best choice to meet our son’s needs. And it appears that he’s integrated the hippie aspects into his life without losing who he is: last week he asked me how fast Superman could knit.

Not an organic, wool-encased hemp leaf in sight...

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12 Comments leave one →
  1. September 15, 2010 11:02 am

    love this idea… any school that can help build a kid’s confidence is a good place to be.

  2. September 15, 2010 11:33 am

    The Waldorf school and Rudolf Steiner are very popular in my neck of the woods. The kids that graduate do well. It’s a specific way to learn and not for every child but a godsend for many. The biggest problem the school here has is that some parents want the kids in the school but don’t want to participate in some of the requirements (like no TV) which makes other parents resentful!

  3. September 15, 2010 3:09 pm

    I think if it works for your kids, then do it. I often wish we’d done something less traditional for our kids.

  4. September 15, 2010 5:20 pm

    SO glad you came over to my blog, so that I could come find your little space up here! My girlfriend had three of her kids at a Waldorf school. You are right – there a good and not so good about every place, and every child is so unique! Glad your son is flourishing there. Superman TOTALLY knits!

  5. lisa permalink
    September 15, 2010 6:41 pm

    we love our waldorf school too and see how our 6 year old daughter is becoming so much more confident, curious and creative. what’s funny to me is that even though there’s no technology or media at our school, half the families have a parent working at “the largest software company in the world”. I think because they see the importance of creative problem solving as a skill. apologies if i sound preachy, but we’re so thrilled with our waldorf experience.

  6. September 15, 2010 11:55 pm

    I’ve heard fantastic things about Waldorf schools! Good job taking that leap of faith and doing what was best for your son! I love how you listened to your intuition and went for it. That school sounds awesome:)

    • November 9, 2010 6:24 am

      Thank you 🙂

      It really is an amazing school. My only regret is that I didn’t get to attend Waldorf!

  7. Elizabeth permalink
    November 8, 2010 9:44 pm

    Love this! I am a Waldorf Kindergarten teacher, and three of my five children went to Waldorf. I became a Kindergarten teacher because it spoke so strongly to me.. the minute I stepped foot in their classroom way back in1988…no going back. I love the work, and am so happy to see the younger Moms and Dads (and others too) bucking the status quo and going with their hearts. It is worth all the sacrifice financially and someday I believe the mainstream education will embrace it. I have faith..an old flower child..everyone thought organic was weird back in the day. Now look! Keep on keepin’ on….

    • November 9, 2010 6:22 am

      I love your comments and insight, Elizabeth! I think Waldorf saved our son, who was incredibly shy and hated school before he switched to Waldorf. 1.5 years later, he’s a different kid!

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