Posted August 30, 2012
Three Cedars Waldorf School continues to evolve rapidly, with a new Executive Director at its helm since the spring of 2011, and a renewed team of faculty and staff members. The school is engaged in a joint accreditation process with the Pacific Northwest Association of Independent Schools (PNAIS) and the Association of Waldorf Schools of North America (AWSNA), attesting to its solid programs, faculty, and plans for future developments. Our school has moved beyond the challenges of its early years, and our team of trained and experienced teachers effectively meet the needs of today's children and families with enthusiasm!
Our journey into Waldorf education is recent and this is our first year at Three Cedars. Day after day, is clearer to us that if the world had more Waldorf schools, it would definitely be a better place to live. Three Cedars embraces students by what they are, respecting their differences in a careful environment set to promote healthy intelectual child development. The knowledge and respect Three Cedars shows for each student, clearly materialized in their curriculum, has no parallel with other experiences we've had in other private schools. They support the "classic" and the "out-of-the-box" types of student, guiding them to channel their curiosity and their inner potential. Three Cedars offers a well rounded education, protects imagination, fosters creativity and promotes nature interaction (my son spends an amazing quality time in the woods) without having to give up a challenging academic content. The teachers are deeply involved and committed to their students, and the staff goes extra miles to make things run smoothly. The principal is competent and dedicated and I hope to see this school community growing and fine tuning its challenges in the years to come.
There is 2 points that I would like to say about how this School is special: - They view children as conscious beings , and not as skilled workforce for an uncertain future. The implications is that every single student will develop a multitude of skills in many directions...but mostly they will have a deeper understanding of who they are and the world surrounding thru music, art and science. The curriculum is presented according to appropriate stage of development, not only cognitive, but emotional and social. - The School is very conveniently located in place with lots of natural space, very close to Wilburton park.
It seemed like an amazing school at first, but Three Cedars declined over the years that my children attended. Specifically the culture changed from a community that sought to include all of the students and welcomed parents on campus and especially at festivals to a closed and cold campus that promoted secretive communication and rumor-mongering among both students and parents. While I enjoyed much of the beautiful artwork produced by my children and some of their classmates, the core curriculula of arithmetic and English were very weak. Some teachers were very good at their subjects and as community leaders but many of those teachers have left the school the past two years or so.
I wanted to believe in Three Cedars. My children were there for over five years. One of my children had learning difficulties and the other was a high achiever. The school could not meet the needs of either one so a change had to be made and it has been a huge improvement for each child. I also want to add that the faculty at Three Cedars seems somewhat secretive in how it operates and it sometimes made me uncomfortable as a parent.
Great School, great teachers, great community! Kids are challenged every day, which makes them more eager to learn, but not constantly stressed out with tests like in pubic school. All different learning styles are addressed, lessons are diversified, and there is lots of time to run and jump in between sit-down lessons. The curriculum includes visual and performing arts, and there are lots of opportunities for hands-on experiences with real world problems and the local community. Excessive use of media is discouraged for developmental reasons. Waldorf education develops body, mind and soul, not just the brain like most public schools strive for. My daughter loves it! Her skills, knowledge and demeanor have improved greatly since changing from public school to Three Cedars in 4th grade. I am just sad we didn't start with it earlier.
Our child attended Three Cedars for several years after we grew disillusioned with public school. While Three Cedars was generally pleasant during our child s younger years, we grew concerned about the level of academic achievement as our child grew into the middle school years. The matter was complicated by the upheaval of having our child s main teacher depart in the midst of the school year and the school s inability to hire a replacement teacher for the remainder of the entire year and the school s decision to bring in a patchwork quilt of temporary block teachers. These events occurred at a critical time in our child s education and set our child (and likely many other members of the class) back. We ultimately felt that Three Cedars was not providing the necessary foundation for higher learning in upper middle school and high school and decided to remove our child. It has been an academic catch-up battle for our child since arriving at the new school.
While I do not subscribe to Anthroposophy, the ideology that guides Waldorf pedagogy, I do feel this school can meet some children better than other private or public schools. The Early Childhood faculty is amazing and a beneficial fit for most children. But there are teacher imposed lifestyle challenges for parents and children in the grades program. Science and mathematics are weak in the grades program. The education is portfolio rather than grade based, and reading is discouraged until age 7. There are a number of children with health challenges at the school and while the school works to meet these children, I have found that it can be difficult for ordinary, healthy children, like my two kids, to thrive in a classroom environment where more children than average are not vaccinated, have profound dietary restrictions, or suffer from a variety or emotional disturbances. The school strives for multiculturalism but is challenged with bullying in the grades owing to it's use of an orthodox boundary-based or behavioral approach to discipline. Team sports are very limited. Currently, it has postponed it's accreditation with AWSNA and NWAIS.
Our 2 children absolutely LOVE going to Three Cedars and are thriving there! Our son entered in 3rd grade and our daughter in 7th. Both were warmly welcomed by teachers, staff and students and quickly formed friendships. Prior to Three Cedars, they often resisted going to school. Now they wish they could go to school every day! They adore their teachers, what they are learning and how they are learning it. Core to Waldorf pedagogy is teaching the whole child and instilling in them a love of learning. We have definitely noticed this with our children, as this love spills into their response to and curiosity about the world around them. Teachers really see and understand who our children are as individuals, which translates into assignments or approaches to assignments that are unique to each child as a way to both encourage their strengths and challenge them to grow. We know that our children are safe at this school and are honored for who they are. We have been impressed with the leadership provided by the Executive Director. Parents are kept apprised of difficult decisions which have been made to ensure stability and a positive future for the school.
Regarding academics, what I really appreciate about this school is that the focus is on teaching children how to learn. Here, they don't memorize facts, rather, they learn how to think, solve problems, collaborate and communicate. I think these are critical skills for not only their careers but for their lives. There is also a focus on other critical life skills, such as persistence and resilience by doing things such as having yearlong handwork projects starting in grade 1. Regarding administration and the health of the school, there has been increased rigor on teacher standards and administrative processes in recent years, which have all added, and continue to add, to the sustainability and well-being of the school and its students. We have been at the school for 5 years I feel really good about both the Waldorf approach and how this school embodies it. I think this school just gets better and better each year and I wholeheartedly recommend it.
I don't doubt that many parents have had good experiences even in middle school at TC over the years and think highly of the Waldorf curriculum. The problem with Three Cedars, however, is that both the director and all of the current middle school teachers feel it appropriate to treat some children badly without facts to support their actions. My children are not the only ones to depart for this reason. Moreover under the current director since 2011, six teachers, or nearly every veteran Waldorf main lesson teacher at the school when the director took over, has left Three Cedars. Also there is little oversight for the actions of the current school administration beyond the Board of Trustees and it seems disinclined to act as it hired the director.
My daughter attended this school for 12 years--from parent/tot through 8th grade. She blossomed more every year and is an intelligent, thoughtful, outspoken individual who wants to change the world. With Waldorf education's emphasis on social health as important as academics, I believe that she can do anything she puts her mind to now. She gained a great foundation in math, science, history, world cultures, literature interpretation, as well as many forms of art, music, and movement.
My daughter has attended Three Cedars Waldorf School for 4 years and is absolutely thriving. Her teachers through the years have taken the time to really know her and have always been open to communication about her needs and any concerns we ve brought up. Her favorite subject is math and my husband and I are constantly amazed at the geometry and algebra concepts she knows, at such a young age, without calling them that. The children learn the fundamentals of mathematics on a deep level instead of just memorization and worksheets. Her teachers bring out her curiosity about the world and everyone and everything in it. Our goal for her has always been to keep the joy of learning alive and Three Cedars has met that goal so far. If you want your child to be happily exhausted in mind and body by the end of the day, this is the school for you. If you d like your child to feel comfortable with public speaking and have great creative thinking skills this is the school for you. The school is growing and evolving, but through it all the children are always the first priority for everyone who works there.
Both of our children are attending Three Cedars Waldorf School, Bellevue, for 5 years now. They are thriving and their problem solving skills are amazing. They love to go to school/kindergarten every day and we parents know to have them in caring, well-trained and loving hands. The academics and experience as well as the engagement of staff and teachers are outstanding. We love the interdisciplinary learning approach, the integration of head, hands and heart in learning - it just relates so much more to a child than plain academics, filling in spaces and coloring in. Moreover, in a small class setting our children were able to build strong relationships with their classmates, which helps them immensely in their learning journey. There also is a strong parent community and we really appreciate how the school values the different cultures also through their school festivals and events. There have been changes in all areas of the school since spring 2011 with the new director, but we both think these were necessary in order to further develop the school to the better. We can highly recommend Three Cedars Waldorf School.
My son is in kindergarten at Three Cedars Waldorf School. He is seen with warmth, disciplined with humor, and taught with thoughtfulness. I know that every day I drop him off for school, I can inwardly smile knowing he is in good hands. I am grateful to his wonderful teachers and to the parents who envelope this school with respect for childhood, heartfelt intention and conscientious common sense.
I have had my son enrolled here for 5 years and have been very happy with the education he is receiving. Three Cedars covers the standard academic subjects PLUS addresses emotional intelligence AND the brain/body connection throughout the curriculum. The school respects and understands that the brain is not the only part of a child that needs support. Children learn through doing, not by filling in the blanking workbooks. They draw amazing pictures and write often, to reflect their learning in all subjects. By the time they are in middle school the writing and drawings are detailed and expressive. The curriculum is based on child development, not passing a standardized test. The curriculum teaches the children to be critical thinkers by allowing them to come to their own conclusions, through stories, experiments, discussion and thought. For some children the school may be too small, especially in middle school. There is only one class (of about 15 kids) per grade. But the benefits of a small school are many, everyone knows your child and will be happy to help with any concerns. You will always know what is going on with your child and who they are spending time with.
My two sons (in elementary grades) have been attending to Three Cedars Waldorf School for four years now. They both LOVE to go to school, EVERY single day of the school year! My children continuously grow academically, and socially and are becoming beautiful, intelligent human beings who enjoy to learn, think and explore with both side of their brains. The learning process is guided by amazing teachers who's minds, bodies and souls are 200% for each single child. We are very grateful, happy and satisfied with Three Cedars Waldorf School. Highly recommend it!!!!!!
Three Cedars Waldorf is one of the best schools in the area. A wonderful, beautiful environment for the children, with very close relationships with their teachers, and a great community for parents, with rich connections all around. My children have enjoyed their time there from day one: they love going to school and enjoy all the activities offered. We LOVE the high quality of academics and the high level of artistic subjects taught every day. Teachers deeply care about each child, and the administration is clear and very supportive. The school has become our 'village' since we enrolled. We feel our children are very well prepared for high school and beyond. We strongly recommend Three Cedars as a superb independent school.
At TCS, the students are valued and nurtured. Teachers focus not only on academic achievement, but on physical, emotional and moral development. TCS supports our vision for raising 'global citizens' who are not only academically accomplished but also well balanced, forward-thinking and compassionate. (Waldorf education demonstrates that academic development can be rigorous AND fun while not appearing to seem so hard . Some interpret this as being easy because they don t expect learning to feel so natural! But after seeing the way my daughter learns at TCS as compared to how her cousin (in the same grade in a traditional public school) learns, I can t imagine a more effective and synergistic way.) My husband and I had good experiences growing up in the public school system but now that we are witnessing Waldorf education, we wish every child could have the same experience. We feel fortunate to have TCS in our lives.
In a world where the quality of public school education is at serious risk due to a standardized approach to education (no child left behind) and an appalling prevalence of drugs, teen sex, and violence, it is nice to find a haven where students can still get individual attention and a community where parents are motivated to contribute to the education of their children. This school has group of incredibly dedicated and caring faculty, and a program that focuses on fostering creativity and imagination through a balanced curriculum. As with most Waldorf schools, TCS takes a different approach to education one which is difficult for some parents to be comfortable with in an age of academics and regimented education. For us, this is a place which has given us hope that our kids can still enjoy their childhood, and emerge as highly capable, independent, and self-confident human beings. Bravo!
This is a remarkable school. Our teachers honor and respect each child as a unique individual. As a Waldorf school there is an emphasis on integration of the arts and music in a way that bring the curriculum to life. Our students are being nurtured to keep their natural enthusiasm for learning, while developing strong capabilities, so they will become joyful lifelong learners. The school community is strong and vibrant with very involved and committed parents. You need to come see it to get a true sense of what a find this school is!
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