This is a great Waldorf/Steiner school, and a very good school in general. There is a feeling of love and enthusiasm between all the students. The classes are very diverse for a private school in my experience.
I love this school. My son attended Kindergarten after we had moved from a different country where my son had attended a Waldorf pre-school that he loved and this school turned out to be the best place for him. The teachers were so wonderful with the transition and it was so good to know that he was so loved and cared for.
City of Lakes Waldorf School is a feast for the senses! The Early Childhood classes fill the school with the smells of their cooking and baking. Each of the classes produces wonderful watercolor paintings, and the quality of art in the grades is outstanding. Singing (often in multiple-part harmony!) echoes through the halls. The classes celebrate and explore many aspects of ALL the seasons outside in nature (no small feat here in Minnesota). Delightful people, intentional pedagogy, beauty, creativity, and imagination abound at City of Lakes!
We moved here from WI last year for my fellowship and were very interested in enrolling our 4 year old at this school. He attended a 3 hour class before the final decision for admission and the admssions director informed me that my son was having trouble with playing with the other children and they could not admit him at this time until he had some " play therapy". I was shocked to hear this. My son has been going to a daycare / preschool setting ever since he was 8 months old and has never had any problems. The admissions director should have considered that he had just left his friends and his home and moved to a completely new place just days ago and was in a completely new place with people he did not know. I was very troubled , being a medical professional myself, that she would " prescribe " therapy for him after "evaluating" him for just 3 hours. I still keep thinking if it was really that or some other reason. The other thing I noticed was the lack of diversity at this school and I often wonder if my child was not accepted because he did not "look" like the other children. Anyways , my son did go to a wonderful preschool and will be starting Kindergarten tomorrow.
City of Lakes Waldorf School truly is a refuge for my daughter who, outside of the school, is being asked to grow up way too quickly. She's thriving at school and able to be a child, playing outdoors, listening to fairy tales, and growing up with incredible role models all around her. I would choose this school again and again and again.
Our school is a bastion of singing. Oh! the singing. In every classroom wings of melody carry our arithmetic, reading, writing and science. Our children are lucky people. They really do see each other, hear each other, and come together with such simple, timeless beauty.
City of Lakes Waldorf School is a haven among schools, where the norm is high stakes testing and pressured learning, City of Lakes values the human connection, engages the children in a multi-disciplinary approach to learning, and calls forth their love of learning. I could not have asked for better role models for my children in the teachers and staff of this school. Their depth of caring and passion for learning is evident in all they do.
Having so many bad experiences in the public education system, and now as an adult working with young students on how to navigate the education system, I understood the importance of finding the right place for my little girl from the beginning. City of Lakes is that right space. Being Spanish her first language, we looked at so many schools and charters, from dual language, to competitive ESL programs. The doubt was always the same. Which would be the safer space for our daughter to thrive? Then we found that City of Lakes. City of Lakes is the reason why our daughter looks forward to start her day. Teacher Susan greets her every morning with a warm welcoming smile; and when I picked her up, she is peaceful, pleasant, and calmed. Classrooms are beautiful and intentionally technology free, which allows integral growth and endless imagination possibilities. With a little girl, we also worry about oversexualizing images, violence, and unmeasured consumption messages in media; City of Lakes is the only space we found in Minneapolis that would pay special attention and enforce effective policy to media access. We see our daughter growing and thriving in City of Lakes.
Re any negative or positive comment on this board. If you're looking for a great school that offers a nurturing, creative education, organize a visit. You'll see for yourself what the school is about. I'm a fan, but don't take my word for it. And don't take the negative comments either. For what it's worth, I chose the school specifically for its inclusive environment. My child is sensitive and creative. The match has been perfect. Here's some more helpful info: I was privy to a recent (2013) anonymous survey, where current parents were free to sound off on any issues. Out of hundreds of responses, not one mentioned bullying. That should put the negative comments below into some context. But a personal visit, preferably during school hours so you can see the students, will help you form your own opinion.
This school must have the fewest bullying issues of any school in existence. So many of the children you meet who have transferred to City of Lakes Waldorf School, enroll to escape bullying situations at their previous schools and to experience a safe social environment. The children are taught to include everyone and to be kind. Children will make mistakes no matter what, but the way the school handles it is clear, consistent and successful. I can't imagine a safer social environment for my two girls. You can schedule a tour and see the healthy social environment when you step into the classrooms to observe.. I highly recommend the tour to anyone.
City of Lakes Waldorf school has been a great choice for us. The curriculum is rich, deep and fosters critical thinking. The content is presented through stories, song and physical activities as a result of which children really understand the concepts deeply whether it be math or science or language arts. The teaching is not geared towards achieving high speed and scores on standardized tests but rather towards gaining significant breadth in each subject area. The administration is constantly working towards better organization and better communication with parents. They are always encouraging feedback and from our experience have always responded immediately and appropriately to concerns with any children. I would highly recommend this jewel in today's educational system.
I agree with the comments that the Waldorf curriculum is wonderful, but this school is poorly managed and bullying is a big problem. Bullying is chronic and not addressed because the bullies are children of board members, administration staff, faculty or very influential parents. In the past several years I know of 8 families who have left the school because of the bulling problems not being addressed. The school is more concerned about image than doing what is best for the children. Problems like bullying, inappropriate behavior and unprofessional conduct by teachers, administrators and board members are hushed up and brushed under the rug. On the surface things look wonderful, but underneath the smiles is a very dysfunctional school.
I was new to the Waldorf curriculum and ideals and I admit, I was very skeptical. Plus, financially, it is a commitment. I discovered the financial aid and started learning about the school, meeting the teachers and more importantly, the students. I had never met a more together, socially mature, and talented group of children. Now, as a parent, I really cannot imagine any other school options. The children are held in such an amazing way and the teachers are absolutely invested and great at communicating with the kids and parents. Perhaps the best review I could give would be to say that my first grader misses school on the weekends. There is no dragging him in, for sure!
It is truly astounding to see how happy the middle schoolers are at this school. And they get admitted to the best schools in the city for high school. I am so excited that my elementary aged children will get to attend junior high here. A parent with an 8th and 6th grader here says that her 8th grade son has not once had a problem getting out of bed to go to school. Her 6th grade girl just told her that she likes school days more that the weekend! City of Lakes Waldorf School is an antidote for the popular image of checked out, disinterested in adolescents. I am just glad to know that possible!
I have a graduate who attended PK through 8th grade and two students currently at CLWS. My 9th grader is excelling at a college prep private school, driven by a love of learning and self motivation that I believe came from her early learning experiences at CLWS. My other 2 love school, love to read, love to learn and are excelling academically. My mother is amazed when they come to her house after school that they both sit down and do their homework first thing and without any prompting. It is my opinion that Waldorf education, focused on the whole child - head, heart, and hands - in a curriculum that meets children at their developmental level, fosters a love of learning. Instead of teaching to a test, learning supports creative thinking. For example, in math the question isn't "what is 5+4?" It is "what makes 9?" This opens the student to think not about what the 'one right answer' is but what the possibilities are. I would highly recommend CLWS based on the results I see in my children. I would also note that the teachers and staff are incredible and make this a special place - as all Waldorf schools are, this school is teacher led.
This is an amazing school and children who go through its program thrive. Teachers' salaries are meager compared to their public school counterparts, yet they are able to instill a sense of wonder and curiosity in their students that enables them to be lifelong learners. The negative comments in this post are from parents whose children had special needs that the school staff could not address. I just don't believe you can blame the school or its staff for their issues.
When my son started in first grade at CLWS, he had come from a public charter school with traditional academics. He came to me one night and asked if he could call his previous teacher at the charter school. I asked why and his answer was that, "I like the way they teach me at this school better... At the old school we had just letter and black lines. At this school, I like the colorful letters!" Both of my children, K and first, are developing a strong, articulate vocabulary and listening aptitude, reverence for what is good and beautiful, physical development woven into learning, love of natural world, care and attention to detail, fine motor skills through crafts and games that they love, care for their classmates, ear for music, poetry and stories, ear for other languages, in a sense of safety and security. My first grader has never asked to stay home from school. Sometimes they want to stay longer. We have had babysitters from this school and met other grads and are always impressed with their poise and ability to connect with us, and they seem successful at their current school/work. We plan for our family to continue at this school for the full course through 8th grade.
The Good: The Waldorf pedagogy requires a happy motivated way to master powers of observation & analysis. Its a child centered environment encouraging critical thinking through power of play, classic study in literature, history & celebration as they interpret the studies through visual & tactile creations. Teachers, parent community & admin know well & ACTIVELY encourage a child's gifts. Ours has been a dramatic positive increase in our child's academic, self confidence & inner grounding from public school & its teaching to the test. The Bad: Because children stay with their teacher as a journey, the expereince is dependent upon the skill/intelligence/openness of their teacher. Some are good- others marginal and unpredictable. CLWS lacks many typical facilities and student services. Home field, cafeteria, MDH classroom health standards, science lab, adequate gym, real school counselor. Math only 3x /week -highly depends on teacher. Orchestra & Admin. is loose (office geared to protecting Waldorf). CLWS is $ - relentlessly asks for $ & HEAVY parent involvement - incompatible with business hrs. Never saw anyone tell a misbehaved younger child to keep hands off others.
Our child attended CLWS for three years. Preschool was a charming experience from start to finish. In Kindergarten, we started to have a lot of trouble. Our child started coming home with bruises and even a black eye. She was bullied on the play yard and the teacher did very little to address it. She told us that our child was tired and told our child to lay-low and not run away from her attackers. I have spoken with numerous parents that had the very same problem. I am speaking out because although Waldorf has its numerous charms they need to enforce their anti-bulling policy and listen to parent's concerns. We have switched our child to a charter school and she has never been happier. If your child is at CLWS and puts up a huge fight every morning when going to school ask about bulling. I wish I'd known sooner and had not made my child endure a full year there.
We left a high functioning Minneapolis Public School for City of Lakes Waldorf School four years ago and have never looked back. Our two children have been challenged academically on every level and more importantly they have been challenged to be of the highest quality in their deeds and intentions toward others. They demonstrate a profound curiosity that their extended family members and others notice. We have found the staff and faculty to be high quality and open to any concerns or questions we may have. This school is one of the things in my top five list of what I'm most thankful.
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