Our children, grade school and middle school, wake up in the morning excited to go to school. They are greeted as they walk up the path to their respective buildings by fellow students, classmates, teachers, and parents. Their teacher looks into their eyes and shakes their hand, welcoming them into the classroom, often sharing small details of the day. Their teachers know these children. When parents go into conferences, it's not parents trying to convey to the teacher who their child is. The teacher already knows. Conferences are not simply a discussion only about academic performance, but also their social life, their life at home and their interests. Are they challenged? Yes. Are they nurtured? Yes. Are they taught at the same pace as other schools? No. This is what differentiates Waldorf education from other types of education. Students are met at their development. Play is encouraged in the earliest years. Story telling teaches life lessons. Hands-on activities build skills so they make take up the pencil and begin to form letters, words and learn to read. Waldorf is not always easy to explain. It must be experienced. With this unfortunately comes misunderstanding from those who want a simple description. If you commit the time to visit, plan to observe and talk to students at various ages, you will begin to get an idea of how this education works. If you want a child that can think and speak for themselves, look people in the eye when they speak, are eager to go to school, have opportunities to have music and foreign languages as part of the standard curriculum and believe they can make a difference in the world, then take the time to visit, to learn, to talk to parents and students. This is a school with incredibly gifted teachers, bringing their unique life experiences and teaching backgrounds together to provide a rich education to all children. Children love to go to school. They are outdoors, have space to breathe, get to be themselves and are part of a safe environment to learn and to grow.
Each child participates in playing an instrument, learning foreign languages, plays outdoors games, sings. They don't focus on the one thing they can easily do and stay on that track, eliminating participation in other subjects or activities, but do all things.
Children are all on equal ground in the classroom. They get to know one another and are appreciated for their differences. They make not always get along with one another, but from this, learn tolerance and respect. This is such a valuable skill as an adult. Work places are filled often with various personalities and occasional conflict. Students at this school learn to work out their differences and to accept one another for whom they are.
This is just a wonderful school. The faculty and staff are extraordinarily dedicated to making sure that EVERY student is treated as a unique individual and receives the education and support that he/she needs. They go far, far out of their way to do this. The other parents and families are very welcoming and it really is a terrific community of people. Overall, your children will get a high-quality education and be prepared for success in life (not just on standardized tests!).
We have 3 children at this amazing Steiner school! Our eldest is entering 11 grade at the High School, our second child in 8th grade and our youngest just about to begin 6th grade. We love the community of parents staff, faculty and the curriculum. Since each of our children began in the Nursery & Kindergarten here, we have learned how to become compassionate & loving parents with healthy boundaries, routines & rhythms...that continue to evolve as our children grow into their teens and young adult years.. I
People who support Waldorf ascribe to an unquestioning belief in the "teachings" of Rudolf Steiner. They are passionate! Hopefully, you'll get a great teacher. Otherwise, you're child is stuck from 1st grade 'til 8th. There is only the "Board" to talk to - mysterious, apparently made up of other teachers - no principal, not easy to voice concerns and see results. Your child must dress and eat according to acceptable guidelines. If you don't conform your family is ostracized. Too much parent involvement! "Therapy Sessions" is how one parent we know describes "parent evenings." The EC was more diverse in our experience - much more cultish and rigid later. If your child has special needs, class sizes are enormous and the special kids are left to flounder with one teacher to manage the group. They are suing people who leave the school for legitimate reasons, so don't sign a contract!
Our children have attended Merriconeag for 12 years. I can't say enough good things about this experience, for our kids and for our family. Is it perfect - no. Has it been entirely smooth - no. Have I ever regretted our choice and would I prefer our children attend another school - definitely no. In our 12 years I have never seen a more dedicated, caring and capable group of teachers, that continue to work with families and students to get it right. I wish every child could have the benefit of a Waldorf education, one like at Merriconeag, as it truly meets each child exactly where they are, and supports them in becoming the people we know they are destined to be. From one very happy and involved Merriconeag parent.
We've been at MWS for 13 years. Just today one of our teenagers asked if we wished we'd spent our money on things other than Waldorf education for them. Absolutely not. And, we are doing this for reasons greater than our own children's benefit: We are committed to the principles behind the education. If you are looking for a school which holds as a central goal the education of independent thinkers capable of really changing the world - this is the place. To be sure MWS is a REAL community, which means it has flaws. I will choose a real, working, growing, learning community over a "perfect" one any day.