Some Steiner schools cope better than others with gifted students. Some years ago I knew a boy who was profoundly gifted who had real problems at a Steiner school, in that there was an insistence on producing perfect handwritten work in a topic book and no access to computers until secondary school, and no openness to allowing him to accelerate in his strongest subjects. On the other hand, he did enjoy the arts and crafts part of each day.
Perhaps it would be a good idea to have a chat with the principal at the school you are thinking of and asking them how they cater for their gifted kids.
Our son is 6 years old. He does not go to Steiner school but he went through Steiner preschool (after three unsuccessful placings at three different preschools including Montessori). At Steiner preschool, everyone was absolutely wonderful and very supportive of his needs and special talents, even if it did not always follow the philosophy of their teaching.
The reason why we did not go to Steiner school is that after we had a good chat with the principal, the school and us both agreed that it would not be the best option for our child. They were still very supportive and told us that their door is always open if the things do not work out with the other school, which was really comforting to hear.
So, I completely agree with Sue - it does depend on the school's philosophy and most of all on his classroom teacher. Especially for Steiner schools, as the teacher ideally stays with the class for a considerable time.
In spite of our decision for not sending our son to 'Steiner system', our experience with his preschool and initial contact with Steiner school was fantastic!
Hi My son went to the Steiner school from Kindergarten to Class 12 or year 13. He has just finished his BSc in Psych and Computer Science and will be doing BSc Hons this year.
The lessons he liked most were the Steiner based ones and didn't enjoy the NCEA stuff as much. He did Form 6 maths while in the 4th form. I think a lot depends on who the teachers are when your child goes through. Anyway he has had no problems at university. He seems a very well balanced individual,though luckily he had no learning difficulties, The greatest thing he likes about the school is the friends he made. He went overseas when he first left school with 3 of his classmates and met more of them over there. then they returned to attend uni after 2 years. Most of the Steiner students seem to prefer having their OE before they settle down to tertiary study.
However, I have heard that some of the Auckland Steiner teachers in the upper school at present have not had much Steiner training. There are class meetings for the parents each term where any issues can be discussed and parent involvement in the school is encouraged e.g. helping out with art or handwork,class plays, sports, annual fair, working bees...
If you applied to attend the school, you would have an interview with the class teacher first and you could decide then whether you are comfortable with the teacher who is expected to teach the class to Class 8 or Year 9. That's a long time if your child doesn't like the teacher!
My son attends steiner kindy at the moment. After reading threads about problems parents are having with mainstream schools it made me nervous to even mention to the kindy that he goes to small poppies. However, he told them himself so we were kind of forced into having a discussion. After hearing about his quirks and our concerns, the teacher was very supportive and interested, saying they do have a program for gifted kids in the school if we'd like to know about it. She would like to be informed once his assessment happens next month and kept in the loop.
Because the school is not mainstream it does attract "different" types and I have already met one mum who's son is also gifted and goes to the same kindy and another mum whose daughter may be gifted but she hasn't had an assessment yet. I'm surprised at how open the parents are and non-judgemental. Still I am tight lipped unless they mention something first.
So far, it seems to be positive and I hope it remains that way. Because they know about him before being put in a class, I'm hoping they will match him with a teacher who best understands gifted children.
Aside from this brief and limited interaction about giftedness in the school, I do not know the actual steps they take or what the true day to day life, extension programs or help is like at the school and whether they accept a One Day School program to be attended alongside their school. (I have heard of mainstream schools refusing to sign a release so that the child can attend ODS).
If anyone has experience with ODS alongside steiner or any tips about approach to include the special character of the school and giftedness, or how they extend the children (put in class two years up or separate class just for gifted) please give all the information you can.
Alison, I was thrilled to hear how your son was accepted and did well in the steiner system. If you have more information about it and how he was accepted by his peers and those in the 6th form class etc then please write again, I would love to know more.