The school acknowledges that its educational approach is based on Rudolf Steiner's anthroposophy (or 'spiritual science') but doesn't explain how it informs the school's theory of child development. Children are reincarnated spirits and the teacher's role is to guide the child's development in line with the child's karmic destiny through the emergence of three bodies that happens in 7-year cycles. They do this in coordination with the child's angel and by working with the child's being in their sleep life. This is all literally believed by teachers and teachers do not explain the basis for their approach to education to parents.
Focus is on the whole child, not just academics. There are buddy programs and other aspects of this school that help the children in their interactions and care. The curriculum even attempts to meet children on a developmental level with what they are currently experiencing at their age.
My daughter struggles with dyslexia. Prior to this school, she also dealt with ADD. Both were diagnosed and she had been receiving private tutoring for some time. She entered Olympia Waldorf School in the 3rd grade after other private schools refused to admit her, stating that her reading deficit would keep her from participating and succeeding in the classroom.
This school has been a blessing. For the first time, she is picking up books on her own to read. She is still quite a bit behind but the teacher adapted to her needs and they do have different levels of reading groups (just like at public schools). Because this school focuses on growth of the child, not just academic achievement, my daughter is getting a great well-rounded education that does not focus on her weaknesses but gives her confidence. In addition, much of her ADD inattentiveness has faded away. She participates in class rather than daydreaming. There is lots of movement time that keeps kids' brains AND bodies moving.
There are a lot of advantages to a school where classroom sizes are small, parents are involved and charge tuition. This insures that there is little diversity at the school which is the primary reason people are here.
The school has strong community, but academics are suspect. This is another example of an 11-year old that could not read AT ALL. Be prepared to shell out additional dollars for private tutoring if you want your child to stay anywhere close to state grade level standards in reading, math or science. They refuse to adopt any use of technology at school, kids will leave middle school without being taught to type or use technology for anything other than Minecraft.
Our family has been very pleased with the curriculum, teachers and community at Olympia Waldorf School. Our children have been attending for the past eight years, and I am continually impressed with the quality of work the children produce, the true hands-on learning that takes place, the beautiful music and art that is infused in almost every lesson, the dedication and passion of the teachers, and the joy that my children express each day. I would urge anyone considering Waldorf to visit the school to see first-hand the holistic, engaging and beautiful curriculum that is offered. I can wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone looking for this type of education for their child.
This is the worst school I have ever seen. They are more concerned with their program than the students. Our 11 year old grandchild can barely read or write and for the past four years the school has done nothing about it. No plan, no action. Their program believes that a child will learn to read when they are ready. Well, not in all cases. Our other 9 year old grandchild has been suspended three times for shockingly minor offenses: two boys pushing in line - suspension, playing an imagination game and naming a character a "luddite" - suspension, answering out of turn in class - suspension. The teacher has no classroom management skills. They may be caring but for these two boys they aren't nurturing. From an angry grandparent.
I would like to point out that most of the reviews from the last many years give the school 5 Stars! The low reviews are from 6-7 years ago. The administration structure has been modified in the last few years and it feels a lot more organized and efficient. I have been really happy about OWS; this will be my son's 7th year there. I love that there is such awareness of each child. 6 of the 8 grades teachers have already taken a class through the years and have returned to lead a new class. The kindergarten teachers have also been there for a long time. The Dean is wonderful. Obviously there is not one school that is a good fit for every family, and the ones who have a problem are the ones who go online and vent about it. Also I have heard a couple families complain about things, but they didn't try to communicate with the teacher or the school. I have had a couple concerns over the years, and by reaching out to teachers or staff, things always resolve quickly, gracefully and completely. It helps to learn about Waldorf education, to make sure it is a good fit for your family. Ask questions; read books. I find it really beautiful now that I understand it more.