My daughter has attended PWS since 3rd grade and is in 6th grade. I think Waldorf is extraordinary. Her class teacher loves and nurtures her students. They are family to her. This was clear to me when I visited before enrolling her in 3rd grade. The students had just put on a Greek play and ran up to their teacher enthusiastically hugging and kissing her. They adore her. And I was blown away by what the 3rd graders were capable of! They all memorized every line in the play and it was about 30-40 minutes long. This is something I have come to see is an exceptional quality of Waldorf students: their attention span and enthusiasm. My daughter's teacher ensures the students are on or above grade level standards and my daughter is performing very well academically. But her biggest learning has been in becoming a happy, well-rounded person who knows how to learn. She is surrounded by beauty and adults (teachers and parents) who "walk the walk," who demonstrate through their way of being integrity, hard work, passion and creative problem solving. I can see the gifts of PWS in my daughter's loving attitude, demeanor, confidence and enthusiasm for learning and life.
After much research and experience, and two kids at PWS, our family has found that there is nothing like a Waldorf education and we believe that Pasadena Waldorf School is committed to providing the very best Waldorf education. By 8th grade, my older child had an incredible depth of knowledge about a wide variety of subjects. He has a strong sense of self fostered by this education, he knows how to work with others understanding the importance of this, and his critical thinking skills are off the charts. My younger child is clearly on the same path. This school had a positive, life-changing impact on our children and on our family.
While Waldorf education is something I believe in the Pasadena school is a place I cannot recommend in good conscience. My child went to the school from pre through 2nd grade. Everything was great until we got a specific teacher in 1st who was terrible. When our child was singled out for mistreatment by the teacher we asked the administration for help. Big mistake! They were both clueless and had "it's the parent's fault" attitude. Our opinion didn't matter, the teacher is always right and if we didn't blindly trust the school then there must be something wrong with us. Thus began the shunning and systematic undermining of our child's trust and confidence in class. Yes, it's that bad. There are only two types in the eyes of the school. You are either one of the chosen few in the inner circle or you have not embraced the dogma as presented by the dysfunctional administration, teachers and college of teachers. Unless something drastically changes at this campus my advice is to look elsewhere for your child.
We were unaware that the Steiner model placed the needs of one needy child above the safety and education of the rest of the students. My child learned to fear school based on the behavior of a child who hit, pushed, and interfered with my child's work and play at school daily in the PRE-preK class. PWS claims a "safe schools policy" but uses no specific strategy or culture to encourage or implement it. The teacher appeared ill-equipped to manage the misbehaving child, and neither of the 2 strategies she tried with him worked. It did not seem that she was even seeking other solutions to resolve the situation via mentors, books, other resources. We left PWS mid-year. The Sweet Pea program is developmentally inadequate for 3yo's, despite enthusiastic Waldorf rhetoric claiming to "meet the needs of the whole child." The materials are not engaging to 3yo's interests [even for non-TV/media kids like ours], and student behavior reflects it. 3yo's should be offered a preschool environment, with Sweet Pea concluding at age 2.5 in its current structure. This school seems more interested in "appearing Waldorf" than in meeting student needs. Ask for specifics on their bullying policies.
It was our experience that the Steiner model, while it might be adequate for Gr.K-1, showed its lack of relevance by Gr.2, and was clearly deleterious to our child's educational and emotional growth by Gr.4. PWS compounded those failings with stultifying teachers and a cliquey administration which refused to address classroom issues (inc. bullying, and the increasing presence of technology in the classroom), apparently because the offending students were the children of the wealthier parents; in a word: useless, the lot of them. The quality of education PWS was very shiny and showy, but surprisingly poor, with an appalling lack of focus on basics. We have a child who tests near the top of every graph, but whose years at PWS left gaping holes in his apprehension of the basics. The year we withdrew our child from PWS, a quarter of his class left at the same time...and the conversations had with those parents in the ensuing months were amazingly similar in tone with many of the same complaints. I think it's time for the Steiner adherents to get their heads out of the sand and reevaluate both the model and PWS execution of it; meanwhile, our child is flourishing in another school.
Pasadena Waldorf has been an incredible experience for not just our child, but our family. The focus on creativity, the arts, and mechanical skills has been very beneficial for our child. The teachers are caring and clearly want to be there, and all of the parents with whom we have interacted are very engaged. The impact of the school has gone beyond the classroom. We have simpler, more fulfilling lives now, as we stopped being consumers and instead started to make our own things and cook our own food. I attribute this value directly to the culture of the school. Our decision to stay at Waldorf hasn't been about private versus public school. It's been about staying with the very unique and satisfying curriculum at this school, which is admittedly, not for everyone.
Our child is in the first freshman class at the new Pasadena Waldorf High School, and we are more than delighted with the quality of education she is receiving so far. All of the teachers appear to be highly qualified educators, who are very attuned to the developmental needs of adolescents. The students LOVE learning, which says a great deal about the quality of instruction. The curriculum itself is academically challenging, using original sources (such as reading Sophocles & Shakespeare) rather than textbooks in the humanities. This is an education that will prepare students expertly for college and beyond.
Wow, I am amazed at how one teacher can dominate the school and cause massive trouble for our family! The school is run by the College of Teachers, with no administrative check or balance. Literally, one teacher has caused us so much trouble, and no other teacher or administrator has had the courage to say its not right. We are *very* disappointed, and feel this school does not "walk the talk" of Rudolf Steiner's values or vision.
Ultimately, as a parent, it is our responsibility to protect our children from all forms of misconduct, whether by their peers or by those in authority (i.e. teachers). It is unfortunate that it only takes 1 or 2 people to spoil the whole idea of a safe and nurturing environment for our children. After 5 years we are happily away from Pasadena Waldorf, and the insidious and ridiculous system called the College of Teachers.
Its true that your Waldorf experience depends deeply on the teacher your child has for 8 years. We liked our teacher, but ultimately, the College of Teachers Leadership Group is the body that runs the school, and we found them horribly self-serving, political, secretive, and unprofessional. They care more about their authoritarian grip on power than about the students. Problem teachers are protected, and its the kids who are forced out. Sad and frustrating.
I would not trade my children's Waldorf education for anything. The thing about Waldorf is that it truly honors the individual child and does not seek to make them fit into a box or teach to the test. These kids come out confident, engaged and engaging individuals. Some parents talk about the need to hire tutors...I have two kids who have gone through and do not need tutors...you can be in public school or other private schools and need tutors. Is PWS the perfect school? No of course not. Like any school, some teachers are better than others and there are things that need to be addressed. But overall this is a unique approach to education where the emphasis is on deep engagement and creative thinking to enable each child to reach their full capabilities and be forces of social change not just be taught to the test.
What am amazing school. My children were valued and learned more about *everything* there than can be imagined. Music, art, literature, poetry, singing, math, science, handwork, neighborhood games, foreign languages - my children are interested in it *all*!
PWS was a wonderful experience for our family. I am the parent of two graduates, both attended from kindergarten through eighth grade, and I am so impressed with who they are, now, as teenagers. They know themselves more than I knew myself at their ages, and they appear to be moving through adolescence gracefully. Academically they have different strengths and weaknesses (don't we all?) and each is doing well in high school - I regret we didn't send them to a Waldorf high school though, I really believe Waldorf offers a deeper education. When we started at PWS I didn't realize how important the school community would be for our family...it was a busy eleven years filled with interesting activities and we still enjoy participating when we can, we're Elves' Faire lifers!
Pasadena Waldorf School has a fairy tale approach to life and does not prepare children for the real world. The school's administration has no oversight and teachers are free to instruct and discipline children any way they see fit. My children had to be tutored after leaving Waldorf just to catch up with mainstream society. The campus is beautiful and the ideals are romantic. The story telling and performances are fun but do not begin to educate children in today's complex world. There are some valuable lessons being taught, but negated by the fact that a child cannot write correctly or spell. There is no test taking and no monitoring of the educational process. Waldorf creates it's own rules and changes them on a whim. I would not recommend this school to anyone who takes their child's education seriously.
I feel so fortunate that we could be part of this community for the past two years. Our daughter has received tender and attentive care of the most authentic and inspired quality. Consciousness, depth, purposefulness and goodness abound. Our world needs more of this. May Waldorf schools flourish so that all those who want to take part in this great movement in education are able to.
I have 3 children at Pasadena Waldorf School and their experiences, love of learning, appreciation for others and the world around them is a treasure to behold. I have spent 32 years in public education as a teacher and administrator and not a day goes by that I don't wish we could do more of the Waldorf approaches to education in the public school setting. The Waldorf approach is one that helps create individuals that will be prepared for an unkown future. Be prepared for continual parental involvement because it is the union of school and community that makes the Waldorf system work for students.
This is a great school. We have 3 children at the school and are amazed everyday that they want to go to school. My 5th grader has missed maybe 3 days in 5 years. I hope you can say that for your kids. Unless you have to be on the fast track, why not give yourself a break and check out our greast school.
I am not sure the Waldorf model works in today's multicultural environment. Having the same teacher from K-8 sounds romantic but it is rare to find an individual with a skill set that can meet a child's needs over 9 years of education. Parental involvement is very high and the atmosphere is nurturing. I would not recommend a Waldorf Education unless you are prepared to supplement your child's education w/ tutors and other outlets for both academic and sporting activities.
After having my daughter at this school for 5 years, I pulled her out. They have lost most of their good teachers and there is no oversight on poor performing teachers. We most definitely would not recommend it for a quality educaton.
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