My child graduated from the high school in 2014 after 14 years of education at Seattle Waldorf (K-12). It was an amazing experience with some amazing teachers. My child is now in a very selective college and finished their first year with a 3.6 GPA. The professors love my child's perspective on the world and my child has been selected for a leadership program.
The Seattle Waldorf School is a very special place. We discovered their parent-tot program by chance and have stayed with the school through preschool and kindergarten. The best thing about it is their wise approach to developmentally appropriate education. In early childhood, in particular, the focus is on imaginative cooperative play, lots of outdoor activity (in any weather), "work" in the classroom, and songs and stories. Lots of research shows that kids at this age need to play - not to be sitting at desks trying to force academic skills before they are ready. The school also fosters a great sense of community amongst the families, who tend to share a common view about how children best develop. When you walk into a Waldorf classroom, you will immediately feel how it is different. The room is uncluttered. The colors are soothing. It feels homey. There are chickens and rabbits in the yard, and a huge chestnut tree sheltering the central play area. This is what pre-school and kindergarten should be - a place where wise teachers channel the children's natural energy and guide their growth. My son loves going to school here, and we love being part of the community.
What an amazing way to learn. My kids skip rope to their times tables, learn about physics from candles lit in a pitch black room, paint, dance and draw. They go outside in the rain, both my big kids and my little one. During school they work hard and come home tired. Their teachers engage with us on a regular basis about our children's learning. These teachers watch, teach and care.
The experience your child has in a Waldorf school is dependent on who they have as a teacher, because teachers stay with the class. If you are going to have a new teacher I would reccommend doing as much information gathering as you can. Even if you get a strong teacher be prepared to pay for additional tutoring because they cannot deal with learning differences. The school is ideologically rigid about believing that learning disabilities are developmental. Parents who advocate for their children are discouraged or ignored. I have never been treated so disrespectfully as a parent. There are many beautiful things about the curriculum but the program is not very academic, behavior problems and bullying are prevalentt, and there was more media influence than there was at our neighborhood public school. I wonder if Waldorf isn't best for girls, and those girls who would do well anywhere.
I attended the Seattle Waldorf School from kindergarten through 8th grade. While I received an interesting education, much of Waldorf is teacher dependent (in Waldorf, a teacher takes a class from 1st to 8th grade). From 1st to 5th grade, my teacher was less than spectacular, and as a result I did not know how to read until after 5th grade, when my parents paid for a tutor. After 8th grade I left the school to attend a public high school, where I received a very hands-on education. Waldorf will not teach children to take tests, and is very clannish. They advertise themselves by putting-down other schools, calling them "materialistic"and "not student-oriented" which is very frustrating and hurtful to those who leave for financial or personal reasons. There are some teachers at the school who were fantastic; Janet Lia, Wim Gottenbos, Marry and Kelly and Elaine Klansnic. The Language program is a joke. I cannot stress how amazing the kindergarten program is, but if I were a parent, I would only send my child to Waldorf through 3rd grade; while not an ideal merit assessment, children do need to know how to take tests (assuming they go to an accredited university).
I've been a parent at SWS for over 10 years. I am the proud parent of a high school graduate, high school sophomore and eighth grader. SWS is a school that nurtures the whole child while at the same time providing a rich and comprehensive curriculum that creates life long learners. I'm so proud that my children have been to attend SWS and I'm grateful for the community that is provides for our family.
My child attends the preschool and enjoys it very much. The preschool has such a warm, inviting and friendly environment that a child cannot help but feel welcome. Every week they back buns and the children help with the dough making process. Every day there is 45 mins spent outside - rain or shine which is great for the mind, body and soul. I would highly recommend this preschool.
If you want your child to be encouraged in their artistic, spiritual, physical, social, emotional, and intellectual capabilities, this this the place for them. A remarkable program led by remarkable teachers. This is truly education at its finest. My son has developed into amazing young adult and my daughter is an amazing teen. Don't settle for less than an exceptional education. Send your children to Seattle Waldorf. It's worth every penny.