This review has been a long time coming. My child attended OCS from Kindergarten to 8th grade. Now that he is in high school and looking toward college, I am continually reminded how grateful I am for those foundational years at OCS. The Waldorf curriculum is an arts integrated approach, which is expressed beautifully by the students at this school. They learn though singing, drawing and movement everyday. The stories they hear, the artwork they create, it lives in them. They readily show it to you in every interaction. It's such a special gift to see your child participate in these rich experiences, to have teachers who really know them as an individual and to have your child love what they do at school everyday. But don't miss out on the real gifts in attending this school. These experiences teach your child to be a lifelong learner, to stretch themselves farther then they (or you, their parents) thought they could stretch. Having moved on to high school, I see these gifts everyday in my son. He has a strong sense of perseverance, collaboration and he really wants to understand what he's studying, not just memorize enough facts to get a good grade. (His current teachers love these traits and recognize them in many OCS alumni.) This has served him in every way possible, academically, socially, spiritually. He understands the need for balance in all areas of his life and does a better than average job of achieving it. I credit his years at OCS in large part for those skills. As you consider any school for your child, just know that there are bigger things at stake in your choice than scores on standardized tests and whether your child was the first in their class to read. If you meet my son, or any OCS student for that matter, you will not notice or care about their test scores or their early literacy skills. What you will be struck by is what a well-rounded, engaged, self-reliant individual they are. I could have written this review at any time while we were at OCS, on one of our tougher days, when it would have been hard to speak about it as the cumulative experience that is was. I'm glad I waited. I'm glad I can tell you with new perspective that I would do it again. It was one of the best things we could have done to give our son the education we think he needed and deserved.
My son s class at OCS is a lot like the one I went to as a kindergartener--emphasizing art, singing, stories, make-believe and outdoor play, letting kids be kids instead of rushing them to achieve academically. There's no homework, so we can actually have some family time after school and work. And instead of stressing technology, Ocean emphasizes an awareness of nature and the seasons. Kids aren't bombarded with characters and brands on T-shirts, lunchboxes, etc., because parents agree not to send their kids to school with them. It's true that parents sometimes have to request their names be added to group emails and school events could be better organized, but more important, the school is a great fit for my son. The school s test scores aren't as high as others , but then standardized testing is not something OCS focuses on. If you're a parent who will stress about whether your child is reading yet, Ocean Charter isn't for you, as it's not aligned with traditional approaches or assessments of learning. That said, the Waldorf philosophy does emphasize personal, social, artistic and moral development, and it's amazing to get access to that style of education at a public school.
New to LA is was very excited to be able to send my son, 5 years old, to the kinder program at Ocean. We lasted about a month before I withdrew from the school and transferred to a another school in my area. In my opinion Ocean has championed mediocrity. There is almost a profound lack of communication between parent and school admin. In the 5 weeks we attended I did not receive one email from school admin telling us any of the happenings in the school or in my son's grade and classroom. Another problem we faced was suddenly my son got very anxious about going to school everyday. He loved his previous kinder class and school until we got to Ocean. I believe the admin has figured out how to keep kids turning 7 years in their kinder program, in most any other school these kids would be going into 1st grade. So now my small son is navigating the playground with very large boys who are socially and emotionally light years away from a typical 5 year old. And on most days it is survival of the fittest in their playground. I believe the biggest problem this school has his lack of leadership. The executive director is non existent and from what I hear prefers to be called CEO.
Feel so blessed! A Waldorf inspired eduction in a public school setting- amazing! Our son is so happy- the staff is incredible, the school has a homey, natural, beautiful environment, and the children are so sweet and wholesome there. If you get in via lottery, you definitely have gotten the golden ticket!