This is a safe place to share your honest opinions of a school, whether good or bad.
Kimberton Waldorf School5
Posted October 03, 2014
- a parent
I was a parent at Kimberton Waldorf School. My daughter was prepared in every way to succeed as a student, an athlete, a member of the District and Regional Chorus, a member of the District and Regional Orchestra (playing the violin), and a member of the Governor's School (representing Chester County). Because Kimberton is one of the 1000 Waldorf Schools world-wide, she spent 6 months in her junior year at the Stuttgart Waldorf School in Germany, becoming fluent in German. As a result she was accepted "early action" at Harvard. She graduated from Harvard and also from Columbia Medical School, and is now a successful psychiatrist in Los Angeles. She is the co-author of "The Fundamentals of Trauma Therapy," a text used in many schools of social work throughout the country. Her son is now attending a Waldorf School in the Los Angeles area. No wonder that the February 6th, 2014, "New Yorker" Magazine described in a 6 page article how 300 Waldorf Schools have been established in China during the last 10 years.
Waldorf Education offers developmentally based curriculum that builds critical thinking skills, responsibility, and active learning. Both my children graduated from KWS. Kimberton's balance arts, physical activity, and gardening has been perfect for my children who have become engaged, intelligent, thinking young adults.
Unfortunately, this is a classic case of overselling and underdelivering. This school markets itself as individualized education, but that was not our experience. Children who want more academic challenges don't get them. And, there's no management of the teachers by a central office. That's very important for you to know, because at the school, your child stays with the same teacher from 1st grade through 8th grade. So, if you get a good teacher who is committed to their job and also willing to help each child, you're all set. But if you have concerns with your teacher or a problem develops, there's no one else to turn to. Teachers are not re-trained or disciplined or removed when they should be - they run the school (even though there's a 'Dean')! So if you struggle with your teacher, you have to just deal with it, or (if it's really bad) simply leave the school. We found the pre-K program to be wonderful, but beyond that it's really a crapshoot. There's a great theory of education here, but it just isn't applied consistently. So, if you're gonna spend this much money, find a private school with good management and stability, where your opinion matters. That's what we did.
Like many before us, we moved to the area so our children could attend KWS. We were so disappointed with how the school ignored social inclusion problems. We never expected bullying to be ignored and the teachers and staff to be untrained to deal with incidents of bullying which occur daily. We also had the opportunity to observe one of my children's class teachers. The learning environment was not one of creativity, but chaos. My one child is still recovering from the anxiety caused by not feeling safe. Most disheartening to us is how the administrators at the school ignore the parents and parents' concerns. We shared our experience with the leadership at the school and nothing was ever done to resolve the problems my child experienced at the hands of his teacher--problems other children in her past and current classes also experienced. This is key because in Waldorf education, children stay with the same teacher first-eighth grades. If you are looking for a true Waldorf education, this is not the school for you. While it says Waldorf in the name, it is not an education centered around the individual child--teaching the head, the heart, and the hands--or protecting the children.
There are few schools that can give what KWS does-- a wonderful education, deep in content including immersion in subjects that create wholeness as integrated with art and activity--teachers who are authentically dedicated and competent, and a chance to be a part of a genuine school community which enriches everyone, including parents.
We have 3 kids at Kimberton Waldorf school and it has lived up to all of our expectation and more. We love the Waldorf philosophy, the 425 acres of beautiful farm land, the organic lunch program, the biodynamic garden, the community of parents and teachers, and the beautiful art my kids bring home. This is the school I wish I had gone to.
Highly recommend this amazing school. I'm an alumni and if I lived in the area, I'd send my children here in a heartbeat. The Waldorf approach to academics, as well as it's focus on so many other important areas of learning and life is inspiring and just so right. A+++
I graduated from Kimberton Waldorf School in 1996, went to Oberlin College and majored in chemistry and theater, and then did my Ph.D. in chemistry at MIT. Kimberton has a hands-on and active curriculum. In physics, we didn t only read a book, we went outside a built a pulley system; we got to see it and touch it and realize it ourselves. In chemistry class, we made soap, we made bread. We understood that things are created from chemical reactions. It was alive and interesting, a rich experience. When I first attended Kimberton in second grade, I was a particularly hyperactive child, so recess was critical for me. Recess allowed me to let out all that energy for a half an hour to an hour every day, twice a day, so that I could sit in a classroom and concentrate. I also benefited very much from the emphasis Kimberton education places on developing well-rounded individuals. By requiring all children to play sports, a musical instrument, sing, act, dance, paint, sculpt, knit, do woodworking, etc., on top of a very interesting and creative approach to academics, I was never bored at school and looked forward to going every morning.
My daughter will be finishing up Kindergarten soon, and she has had a great year. She has been baking, finger-knitting, sewing, painting, singing, dancing, and even sledding this winter. She has had a lot of free play, especially outdoor play, which is so important for a six-year-old. The teachers are wonderful. My daughter is looking forward to entering the lower school next year, to the class play, learning languages, math, drawing, gardening, farming and all the other exciting things planned. I have two other children who will be entering the Kindergarten soon, and I am so grateful they will have this special place to go to every morning.
Kimberton Waldorf school is a place where children learn to grow up, and receive a truly unique education. It's like a true liberal arts degree, nurturing the whole child and stimulating the type of creativity and passion for knowledge and excellence that leads to successful lives and careers. I am an alumna, and am planning to send my child to a Waldorf/Steiner school.