This school is beautiful and inviting. The Waldorf curriculum teaches curiosity, enjoyment and growth.
The only disadvantage, is the students stay with one teacher throughout their schooling. Having diversity in teachers allows for new perspectives.
It seems to work for most, yet it is not for everybody.
My two boys have been attending Shepherd Valley since 2011; my youngest started at age three in summer camp and will be entering 1st grade this fall. I can't say enough good things about our beautiful school. As mentioned in a previous review, we did experience a year or so of a little instability, but I'm delighted to report that the school is rebounding beautifully, and our children's education and experience never suffered during that time. Our school farm is beginning to take off, our campus is receiving beautiful updates/remodeling as I type this, and we are excited to be hosting a Farm to Fork Benefit dinner this September. The future looks very bright.
As for switching from Waldorf to public school you might find your younger grades children need some catching up to do, but by 4th grade Waldorf children are on track with their public-school peers and even ahead in some areas. The educational timeline is just structured differently from mainstream curriculum. The standards aren't better or worse, just different, so transitions to ANY school will be a little tricky, but mostly just in those first few grades (1-3).
All accredited Waldorf Schools carry the same curricular standards and practices, some are bigger, older, and more established, but all Waldorf graders are learning the same material as their peers in other Waldorf schools.
We love our little farm school and I'm convinced it's the best education I could ever hope to give my children. Our teachers are highly dedicated, educated, warm, loving, nurturing, and personally vested in the success of our children. We are very proud to be members of the Shepherd Valley community.
We've had two boys enrolled at Shepherd Valley for early childhood and the grades . We discovered the school kind of by accident - our kindergartener wasn't loving the his other school, and we didn't think struggling in kindergarten was a good start his school career. The daily explorations in nature at Shepherd Valley suited him and allowed him to settle into his classroom where the environment is calm, focussed and lovely to see. He became observant about the world around him, more content at home and going to school wasn't a struggle anymore. In retrospect, I think the combination of the amazing campus, the warmth and skill of the teachers and the open, welcoming feeling at the school in those early years helped him to become an aware, resilient and deep-thinking student as he entered the grades. If you're curious at all, it's worth a visit. We are so glad we took a tour way back when.
My daughter has attended Shepherd Valley since kindergarten and is now in the fourth grade. She has been challenged and broadened socially and academically, and has been inspired and delighted by the beauty of the curriculum and the excellence and devotion of the faculty. Anyone who wants to help their child meet the challenges of this fast-paced, technology-driven society and solve the urgent global problems of humanity should begin by looking for a school that nurtures not only the intellect, but the heart and the imagination. Shepherd Valley is a hidden gem in Boulder County.
A wonderful school on a beautiful 38 acres that the students get to explore every day. My 5th grader is well versed, balanced and growing in the areas of math, science, German, Chinese, music, painting, building, making, etc... His classroom has a very supportive and non-competitive feeling to it, with students often helping each other learn. The teachers are extraordinary, with an amazing understanding of child development, and age appropriate learning. My child is thriving not only academically, but creatively and socially as well -- this education is as much about growing students/scholars as it is about growing thoughtful, well-adjusted humans. I can say emphatically: I LOVE my child's school, and we are thrilled that we have made attending Shepherd Valley a priority.
We came into this school during our children's pre-school years and learned about Waldorf education gradually. We were unsure of our plans post early childhood years, but when it came time to go mainstream or stay with the Waldorf tradition at this gem of a school, we realized we just HAD to stay. Shepherd Valley focuses on the whole child through multi-sensory learning. It's a different approach. Even though I am a clinical psychologist with a good understanding of child development and the importance of a well rounded education, it took me a little time to to adjust and fully understand the amazing benefits of a Waldorf education. Since we started in the grades, I have been incredibly impressed with my children's education at this school. I have interacted with students in all grade levels and am struck by how articulate, confidant and emotionally aware they are. I see my children developing into well rounded, critical thinkers who can have intelligent conversations with adults. I feel that sending my children to SVWS is one of the best gift I can give them, and it is easy for me to see why Waldorf education is the fastest growing educational system in the world!
Our experience is that this school has been great for our child's self-esteem! The teachers really care and are there to help each child develop their full capacities. We really wanted to avoid the academic pressure cooker that mainstream schools have become these days. For example, a friend of ours told us that their daughter was all stressed out about a big test coming up--in Kindergarten!! Our child was really shy in Kindergarten, and this kind of pressure would have been really bad for him. The Shepherd Valley Waldorf environment allows youngest children to discover the joy of learning, without the stress. Testing comes later. And yes, we have a different schedule for certain subjects than mainstream schools, so the youngest children get a much fuller development of their imagination, which later becomes a foundation for academic learning, creative problem-solving, critical thinking skills, etc. In addition, this school has a resource that very few schools in the country have: 38 acres of land! We already have a CSA farm and there are more exciting plans in the works. We are SO glad our child has this opportunity to connect with nature and the outdoors!
This is a great school! Teachers are dedicated and staff is committed. Be ready to learn a lot about child development and community work. Parents are asked to be highly invovled and to make a real commitment to the education and their child.
Well-intentioned staff, but underfunded school and lack of resources hinders their ability to provide a great education. If planning to have your child attend Waldorf to high school, Shining Mountain provides a much more robust education for not a lot more cost. If considering switching to public school when your child is in elementary, it is highly likely that your child will be behind grade level expectations and their self-esteem could suffer in the transition to public school. Proceed with caution.