My wife and I are extremely concerned about the state of public education; specifically about the defunding of arts, music, and sports. Further, the mandatory testing of our young children is putting a stress on them that they are not yet ready, or equipped, to feel. In response to these concerns, we sought out a private school education for our son, and feel beyond fortunate to have found Marin Waldorf.
Marin Waldorf is based on the teachings of a 20th century philosopher and teacher, named Rudolph Steiner who proposed an alternative to the commonly held (and still current) prevailing belief that learning is primarily based on logic and objective measurement. He put emphasis on art and imagination and, as well, on the importance of which type of learning is most important at the given age and capability of the child. He did not want to force logic without context or interest. He'd rather build interest, first. Doesn't that make sense?? Waldorf's message is to "awaken the joy of learning."
Our son is in first grade. We have been very happy with his education and teachers, so far. We have found them to be warm, compassionate, intelligent people. As alluded to in previous comments, yes, it does seem that it was a tough few years for the school's administration. We feel very confident now, however, in the addition of a new administrator last year (Will Stapp) and have already seen positive changes. We hope and have confidence that he will be here, for many years to come.
The school asks that we not participate in "media" with our children; meaning television, video games, etc... While this first seemed somewhat difficult, we are now seeing and reaping the many benefits, such as increased patience and calmness.
There is much literature to support that media interferes with the development of a young brain. We figure that our son has his whole life to be bombarded with external media messages, and we'd like to protect him from that, as long as we can, so that when he is older, he will have a broader frame of reference, and will, hopefully, have the desire to protect himself from the same.
I couldn't recommend the school more, and if you are on the fence, check out one of their open houses. They give you a great glimpse into the school.
My son went here for preschool for his first year of school. I was in fantasy land thinking Waldorf education was the answer to our educational dreams! My dream burst quickly. After three months I wanted to get as far away as possible, but since we signed a contract, we were liable for the year's full tuition, and they wouldn't let us out of it. It was a miserable six more months. There are some serious problems with the administration and staff, including teachers. Shockingly unprofessional behavior, a superior attitude from the staff over the parents (who by the way are PAYING to be treated this way), and a culture of secrecy, mystery and fear prevailed. The culture was cliquish (either you drank the kool-aid or you were on the outs). And there seemed to be a emphasis and fascination with old European culture, exclusive to other ancient cultures or current cultures.
I understand the issues that the previous reviewer has stated. But, there are so many amazing benefits to this school, mostly for the kids, which is really what matters right?! We came to this school from the public school which was just not serving/educating my child. I describe my child as a 'wilting flower' prior to leaving the public school and then seeing my child 'bloom again' at this school. Confidence is regained, academics are stronger, creativity is soaring. I attribute it to the Waldorf curriculum and wonderful teachers. My child is learning so many things that are not traditionally taught which will be beneficial for years to come. My second child is benefiting from the early childhood education and now the grades. They are so excited to go to school and learn. That speaks volumes to me. As far as administrative turn-over and the teacher issues, I know the grass is not greener...I hear of the same issues from other Waldorf and public schools from other parents. I'm not saying the issues aren't important, but I do feel the school is moving in the right direction and that I know there is no better place for my children.
Our early ed was outstanding. Grades ranged from good to appalling. I am an advocate of Waldorf education. However, MWS execution of it is seriously problematic. During our time there, MWS had two classes implode with several others at 50% capacity. This caused constant financial crisis resulting in a huge parental burden. Academically, MWS inadequately prepares children for high school. MWS does not offer an accredited algebra course. The science program consists of an empty room with a couple instruments. Many MWS graduates play catch up their freshman year. MWS has constant head administrator turnover. During our years there, there were five head administrators, causing further school instability -- especially if the leadership was poor. Finally, the teachers college is a horribly dysfunctional entity with no formal oversight. With the exception of a couple strong teachers, overall this body has acted in appalling ways. There have been countless issues of questionable teacher conduct, as well as conduct that would have likely resulted in legal action at another school. College reaction to such issues has been intensively defensive with little to no accountability.
Waldorf philosophy is amazing and each child should receive such great education. Although Marin Waldorf School has great community; the administration and management are lacking in the ability to honor the truth and to speak the truth. Keep parents in blind. They always making the most stupid decision to avoid any trouble for the school ! If you want to send your child(ren) to this school... you need to think twice. There are so many Waldorf schools in bay area to choose.
My three children attend MWS. It is our first year and my husband and I feel fortunate to have found such an amazing school and community. Our children enjoy going to school which is so important to us as parents. They love their teachers and classmates. They are making friends and learning new things each day that they are excited to share with us at pick up time. We know when we leave them they are in great hands. They truly are receiving a rich, well rounded education that I wish I would have had as a child. We find the administration to be excellent as well.
I sent both my children to Marin Waldorf. By not challenging the children acedemically, it promoted and instilled a dislike for school and learning. It made my children feel that they were not smart enough to be challenged. The experience was damaging to them. I found the community welcoming but found the administration lacking in the ablity to honor the truth and to speak the truth. The school was particularily damaging to my youngest child --I would not recommend this school to anyone who feels that learning is fun and values a child's feeling of self worth.
There s a lot of buzz lately about the film Race to Nowhere in which schools today are making kids depressed and stressed out, with so much emphasis on testing and cramming academics at an early age. The Waldorf approach is an antidote. Instead of being burned out, by eighth grade these kids love to learn and know how to think. They are intelligent, creative, poised, confident, and mature. You will see this if you attend a tour and see the alumni panel, or just talk to the kids. If you are worried about a two-year, non-academic kindergarten, I heard in a tour of a Waldorf-methods charter school that the two countries with the highest literacy rates don t teach their kids to read until age 7 (one country is Sweden, I can t recall the other.) By about the fourth grade, the academics catch up and then surpass the public schools.
We love this school! My daughter attended two years of kindergarten at Marin Waldorf School and is currently in 1st grade. She absolutely LOVED kindergarten and is very happy at the school. I toured several schools and ultimately chose this one because it best aligns with my values: environmental sustainability, what is best for the whole child (mental, physical, social/emotional), making learning interesting instead of boring and rote, and the importance of healthy living - good nutrition, adequate sleep, limiting media, physical activity, helping with household chores, etc. This is a wholesome place. The students are really happy here.
So much of what is practiced at Waldorf schools is now being supported by research in neuroscience about what helps kids learn. It breaks my heart to think of kids in other schools who have to sit still in desks for long periods of time listening to lectures. The teachers here use multi-modal teaching techniques to more fully engage the child for example, in first grade they go outside and jump rope to answer math problems, they learn Spanish through puppets and songs, etc. If you take a tour, you ll see the kids don t open textbooks and memorize things instead they CREATE their own textbooks, rich in illustrations and helping them to more fully digest the material in their own words. They are taught to knit the teacher said there are many studies showing that learning to knit (following the thread, through the needles) helps students with reading comprehension following the thread of the storyline. Before learning an abstract concept, they first experience a concrete example. I could go on.