I have two kids at Marin Waldorf, currently 4th grade and second grade. We came to the school when our eldest went to preschool, and we knew nothing about Waldorf education's philosophy, methods or curriculum. I thought the preschool looked great because the kids go outside every day, rain or shine. It also didn't hurt that it was the most affordable of the options we looked at.
Through preschool, the two-year kindergarten and now up through 4th grade I can say I am delighted with the education my kids are receiving.
I swore to myself that I would not send my kids to a private school, because after all, I went to public schools growing up, and living in Marin we have some of the best public schools around.
But public school education today is foreign to me. Way too much homework, constant standardized tests, teachers subject to so-called accountability regimes that incentivize teaching to the tests. Less and less music, drama, art.
The Waldorf philosophy and methods take a little getting used to, but I think they've nailed it.
In short, so far my family's experience at the school has been terrific. It is rigorous academically, but I see the curriculum and the methods preparing my kids not just for future employment but for an enriched life.
OK, now the qualifiers. It is true that when you get into first grade and up, the quality of education depends greatly on the quality of your child's class teacher. The class teacher is meant to stay with the same class from first to eight grade, and it responsible for the "main lesson" each day, a two-hour class at the start of each day that focuses on "blocks," e.g. a math block for 5 weeks, a literary arts block for 4 weeks, etc. If the class teacher is not up to par (and it happens), you may as well throw in the towel and go elsewhere. This is purely luck of the draw.
Anyone with young kids headed to preschool/kindergarten or first grade, I highly recommend giving this school a good look.
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.