Posted by: Tracy Barsamian Ventola | July 16, 2016

Choosing Homeschooling Over a Waldorf School (Part 1 of 3)

k and l on swingBig Sister (Waldorf Kindergartener, age 6) and Little Sister (Newly Home, age 2)

It feels really important for me (to the point that it’s my responsibility) to share my family’s experience with Waldorf education.  I’ve met countless homeschool families that fantasize about Waldorf schools, envisioning them to be some sort of educational nirvana.  At the park, at the pond, in the woods…I regularly meet families that lament their inability to send their child(ren) to the Waldorf school…either because their child was not admitted to the school or because their family could not afford the school’s hefty tuition.  And so, they’ve opted for homeschooling, but as a second choice to the Waldorf School.  I often wonder if I would feel exactly that same way too, if we hadn’t sent our big girl to a Waldorf School for two years?

Without the experience of having sent our older daughter to the Waldorf School for two years of kindergarten, I suspect that I too might have some of those same lingering doubts that I hear from moms and dads in my community.  These families all wonder the same thing…what if Waldorf might have been the one school where their child could have thrived?  Luckily, however, I was able to CHOOSE homeschooling without any nagging doubts that somewhere in the world there exists a magical school that could meet my super-sensitive big girl’s needs.  And so, I’d like to share my family’s story with you…

We loved our older daughter’s Waldorf kindergarten teacher.  In fact, my heart overflows with gratitude when I think of our two year relationship, as this beloved kindergarten teacher changed the course of our family’s life.  We weren’t living very consciously before we chose Waldorf kindergarten.  Before attending the Waldorf School, our daughter watched at least two hours of television a day.  Our then four year old daughter, after being in preschool all morning, was rushed around to afternoon enrichment activities such as ballet and gymnastics.  Our daughter cared deeply that the clothes she was wearing were the same as those of her preschool classmates (think Disney Princess!).  Our daughter required a playmate or an adult’s constant attention.  She had no idea how to play on her own.  And she could not fall asleep before 9PM nor could she wake up (without be dragged out of bed) before 9AM.  Finally, to really spice things up, our daughter had been diagnosed with a bogus school-based disorder called selective mutism.  And not surprisingly, our daughter tantrumed all. the. time.

We met our beloved Waldorf kindergarten teacher at the interview.  There was a pretty severe snow storm that day, but my husband had taken the day off from work and was willing to risk all three of our lives on Route 95 in order to avoid taking an additional vacation day for his wife’s crack-pot idea that we would send our then four year old to half day kindergarten in Lexington to the tune of $15,000.00 a year.  Luckily we made it to the school without any fatalities and that day, my husband fell under the spell of our soon-to-be beloved kindergarten teacher.  She was warm and kind and wise.  But most breathtakingly, she understood our girl.  Despite the fact that our daughter did not even whisper one word at the interview, this teacher “got” her.  And my husband was ready to take out the check book.

Please stay tuned for part 2 of this series

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