Anyone who started and left Waldorf? Should I be getting cold feet about Anthropophosty?

We were excited to start DS in a Waldorf K this year, thought we'd give it a try and then maybe go public next year if it wasn't a perfect fit. He taught himself to read already, so that isn't a concern. We had done some reading, visited the school, talked to some parents and thought that we were comfortable with some of the kinda wacky seeming things that they do. I took a look at an critics website tonight and am getting serious cold feet. DS is the kind of kid who ponders stuff and he tends to be a little socially awkward and anxious. Now I am worried that it will fill his head with crazy ideas and that they are tolerant of bullying. On the other hand, I like the focus on play and outside time and that it is a half day. Anyone have an experience to share?

I was also planning to do a parent child class with my younger son one morning per week. That seems a bit more harmless since I would be there.

What exactly is up with the ironing at Waldorf schools?
I don't have first-hand experience, but I know some lovely people who attended or taught at Waldorf schools, and they are very sane and well-adjusted.

The founder of the Waldorf movement was an amazingly prolific writer, and some of his ideas were unusual and perhaps hard to swallow. But I suspect that the details of anthroposophical theory are as far removed from a Waldorf kindergarten as the Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation is from a parochial kindergarten.
I don't think one year of school is going to hurt your kid. Try it and see how it goes. Stick to your plan to switch next year if this year doesn't work out.

I think Sandra Bullock went to a Waldorf school in this area, FWIW. She seems to be doing OK.

I would be less concerned about the background belief system than about how it affects the Waldorf model and whether that is a good fit for your child. Waldorf seems to work best for kids who are developing fairly evenly across skill domains.
and we loved it because it was really a great fit for him and because we agreed in great part with Waldorf principles for early childhood. He thrived there and went on to do very well in public K and beyond.

My only complaint (and this is minor) is that he really struggles with handwriting (we've done OT) and in retrospect, a more traditional preschool might have enabled us to see that earlier on.

We never considered continuing w/Waldorf education beyond that because we don't agree with Waldorf principles for post-preschool education. I think some of the theories are just wacky, and some make no sense to me (correlating the age at which children are ready to read with certain physical development for example). That said, there are people who do great in that environment from K-12.
I am a total product of a Waldorf school system -- I went to a Waldorf School, my mom taught at one, my children are enrolled in one, and I served on the board of one -- and I am a very sane, normal, sociable, well-adjusted person The education contributed positively to my being a well-rounded, inquisitive person. I credit it entirely with my thirst for learning -- I have a PhD, did a post-doc, and now am a professor of education -- and my multidisciplinary approach to both learning and to life.

My mother, who really believed in Waldorf education, used to call the Anthroposophy books "Rudolph Steiner's Bedtime Stories" because many of them would put her directly to sleep. She taught me to take what made sense from Waldorf and embrace it and just filter through the rest.

Waldorf environments are beautiful, wholesome, embracing, nurturing, and developmentally appropriate. There are indeed some odd ideas, but when I hear of some of those that are getting circulated on those anti-Waldorf websites, they literally make me laugh, they are so outrageous!

I would be happy to talk to you about Waldorf, if it would help you make a decision that is right for you and your family. My children are going to be new to the Washington Waldorf School this year, so I don't know the school well, but I do know the ins and outs of Waldorf education in general and have a lot of ties in the Waldorf world, thanks to my mom, and if I don't know the answer to something, I am happy to find someone for you who does. Waldorf is great for some children and some families and not right for others. I heartily encourage you to ask lots and lots of questions and try to find what is right for you. But please don't let those silly sites scare you away if you are otherwise finding yourself attracted to this wonderful approach to education.

My son is also going to be in the early childhood program, so it's possible our sons will be in the same class Let me know if you would like to chat off-list. Directly to your question about starting Waldorf and leaving, I should add that I left Waldorf after 8th grade and had absolutely no problem being successful in a highly academic prep school. The Waldorf School where my children have been for the last four years (Princeton) sent their 8th grade graduates (the school ended in 8th grade) to the best prep schools around, and they often won scholarships and other awards for both academics and all-around character.

Hope this helps.
Diana (

OP, take a look at Oneness school in Bethesda. They seem to take the best of Waldorf and the best of Montessori and combine them. Had I known about that school, my kids would have been there.
OP here. After receiving an invitation to join a parent study group on the "occult science" underlying the Waldorf educational philosophy we have decided to enroll the kids in a more traditional private school.

Anything having to do with the occult is just way outside our comfort zone when it comes to our sons. Interestingly, anything like that was vigorously denied at the open houses I attended. I understand that others might be more comfortable.

In another thread there was a reference to Oneness following another somewhat cultish leader.
I'm sad that anyone would decide to not have their children attend a Waldorf school because they heard that it was cultish. My children have been in Waldorf schools their whole lives. I have a daughter who graduated from a Waldorf high school, a son currently in a Waldorf high school and one finishing up grade school and headed into the high school. It has been such an amazing experience for all of us and I am so very proud of the individuals that they are. They see so much beauty in the world and they are such curious learners. They hunger for knowledge! I suppose the fact that they are all incredible artists doesn't hurt either. I'm very proud to say that my children attend Waldorf schools and I'm even prouder that my daughter is choosing to become a Waldorf teacher!
Anonymous wrote:I'm sad that anyone would decide to not have their children attend a Waldorf school because they heard that it was cultish.

That's not what the PP meant. She didn't say the school was "cultish" but that they sent her information about a group that was forming to look at the "occult sciences" and how they were related (or not related?) Cults and occult sciences are not the same.

BTW I do realize this threat is old
Waldorf might be a great option early years... but for later on WATCH OUT. It is NOT for everyone.

I know two families VERY well (one is a relative) with the SAME experiences at two different Waldorf Schools. From what I understand the teacher your child receives is a huge factor because the teacher stays with you for many years. While I understand the occult part turned you off... The poster from last night said something about it being cultish. Then she went on to share that her whole family has dedicated their lives to this education system which they clearly believe is great. But, if you take a step back... feels a little cultish to me.

I have said this before on this board my neighbor could not READ in the sixth grade at Washington Waldorf in the 1970s. Her pediatrician literally intervened and pulled this child and her younger sister from the school. With tutoring and being held back a year or so, they ended up thriving at the French International school.

A close relative of mine sent her son to the nursery program (I forget it's name) in SF. She was pleased with it. Then came Kindergarten. Her son had a strict German teacher who closely adhered to the philosophy and the parents who were very excited about Waldorf felt alienated. It was a disaster. My relative and her husband were so put off by the lack of any sort of real learning in the classroom, they were going to have to home school their son if they couldn't find a first grade which would take him. This relative sent me an email a few months back saying how her son was blossoming at his new traditional school. He had just learned to read (first grade) and was embracing it. Meanwhile his one friend at Waldorf was just learning the alphabet and was forbidden to try to read.

It is an odd philosophy that may not prepare our child. Also, Steiner's writings include some the "ordering of the races" that I found disturbing. Not that they teach these things in class, but the teachers DO study t (I asked a lot of questions at Acorn Hill about this and they confirmed it) and to me, to say "yes, there's racially offensive material in his writings and we do require that teachers read that but we don't believe it" seemed a little disingenuous to me.
I Have my son in a waldorf school outside of DC, but we are applying to wash waldorf for 2010. We are totally mainstream parents and find that it is a lovely school situation. I think it is the best gift I can give my kids (preserving their childhood) in this age of crazy media and fast paced lives. I don't know if we will continue until 12th grade, but my child has learned so many important things in PK (like manners and treating people with respect) that I think it has been a great experience. I have read those websites that are critics, but you just have to remember that they are extremes. Most of the parents and teachers I have met are lovely people and are very insightful when it comes to children
Having kids for many years at a Waldorf, I have never found an education with so much reverence for other religions, races and beliefs. The children are taught to be racially blind and to appreciate those with handicaps or learning differences.
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