I would appreciate any experiences someone may like to share regarding Rudolf Steiner schools and giftedness.
Our little boy is currently attending Rudolf Steiner kindergarten and thrives there. He has hypersensitivities, especially regarding noise and touch, so a small group of children and a calm environment really suit him. He is also very imaginative and loves their storytelling.
However, I am concerned about his academic needs being meet by the school as it looks like they concentrate mainly on art. Also, from what we learned from books about Steiner schools, there seem to be lots of repetition in learning some subjects, such as math, which from our experience with him usually makes him bored and leads to behavior issues.
Any advice or experience (good or bad) you feel like sharing would be highly appreciated.
As with all schools, how well the staff cater for gifted kids will depend on their level of knowledge and understanding. Steiner does have a particular flavour to their curriculum and their own way of doing things. Some of the structural things, like the main topic book, can be cumbersome for gifted kids - eg transcribing a perfect copy of work into the topic book, handwritten (a form of torture for some gifted kids!). Other things, like aesthetic appreciation, story, art and the peaceful environment which has pervaded each Steiner school I have been into can be wonderful.
I don't think one can make generalisations about the schools with regard to GATE. Your best course of action is to actually talk to the principal and/or GATE co-ordinator (if they have one) and ask how they cater for their gifted kids. eg What PD have staff done with regard to gifted learners? Do they allow gifted students to progress at their own pace in their areas of strength? What about gifted kids who hate to write? What age can they use a computer for work? How do they provide choice in learning for gifted students? How do they cater for creativity? How do they challenge a child's thinking?
Rudolf Steiner schools follow a philosophy of teaching that works best when supported by the home environment. The program is quite rigid in content. All children are "gifted" in different ways. Much is about discovering the beauty of our world, and each other. This is the message I learned going through age 14, albeit in Germany. A lot depends on the classroom teacher. The topics are mostly taught in story or often in riddle form, so much can be discovered by the bright kid before the plot is revealed. There were always challenge problems for those who didn't need the repetition. In Science I was encouraged to discover more, weigh more precisely, apply a "secret" formula or otherwise embellish the project. All children learn 2 foreign languages starting in Grade 1, learn to play recorder, are encouraged to learn an instrument, take handwork (learning to knit, crotchet, sew), woodwork and garden from 5th grade on, learn Eurythmy, and play group cooperative games. Sports are about coordination and cooperation instead of competition. The "popular" sports are not encouraged until High School. Computers are not used until High School. I had no trouble jumping into all Honors classes in a public school in USA. I'm an int'l airline pilot with little artistic talent. I encourage you to go to a school assembly, look at the 8th and 12th grade projects and end of year performances, learn a bit about the philosophy, and find out about the classroom teacher your child would be with. Although it's not for everyone, we would seriously consider this option for our 2nd child (tested at 99.5% age 8) if there were a school nearby. Eldest is happy at local primary school, but not very challenged.
I just wanted to thank you for your response regarding this topic. We had a school interview this week. There are lots of aspects of school which we think would suite our son. However, we are not so sure how they will cater for his talents. I appreciate their honesty regarding not supporting One Day School as it is against their philosophy. We also asked about his reading as he reads quite well already. They told us he can read at home after school, which surprised us a bit. Not sure what to make of it but choosing the right school must be quite difficult for anyone. Thank you once again and wish us a good luck with our decision.
One of the most important things that you will NOT be told about steiner/waldorf education is that it is based on Anthroposophy (Occult Science) as Rudolf Steiner liked to put it. Quite easy to google the supporters and the critics. As for their programme, the individual is not catered for in any way. The child must fit into their paradigm, no exceptions. The main lessons are boring, they just copy off the board no thought required or tolerated especially if it does not fit what Rudolf said. They would not teach my daughter to read because [according to them] that she had not finished reincarnating, after all she is a tall pale skinned red haired and therefore must be too tired to read. Have a look at www.shanhaua.com and another blog called the Etherial Kiosk, where you will find quite different explanations of this religious occult education system. Good luck.
I think people should speak from their personal experience rather than learn from gossips. We had 3 kids at Steiner school. Our olderst is doing engineering at Uni. We wanted our kids to experience a real childhood as we come from a European Country ( not Britain) and most of them start kids at school at 7 yo., which make sense ( motor skills wise, plus emotional maturity). Our oldest boy though not academically challenged was fixing computers ( picked up from inorganic collections) and selling them at the age of 12, this were his pocket money for the next 2 years untill he found other means? actually getting a part-time job at engineering company whils studying at his Waldorf school. As a parent we were so worried about his academic knowledge. To our suprise ( withough any extra outsied math lessons) our child receives a distinction in Australian math competition. As parents we were still restless and put him in a local College for the last 2 years of school , straight away they put him in GATE programme for Sciences, he had no problems to fit in Chemistry, Physics, Math. His English was not perfect though but it's his second language ( he had reading and comprehension skills of15 yo at 12). May be not so gifted in languages but he is fluent in 2 and can communicate in other 2. Also, many of his classmates left Waldorf school after yr8 due to parents worries about academic side most of these kids got into advanced classes at their Colleges. It can be a problem when you move a child who didn't have a chance to "mature" at Steiner school. They are behind academically in yr1-3, but then they go well above avarage. Good luck!