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Waldorf Parent's Master Checklist
Throughout OpenWaldorf.com you'll find questions and exercises to help you evaluate your own Waldorf school. This "master checklist" gathers these questions from throughout the site, and consolidates them for your convenience. Printing this list, and filling it out yourself will help you better understand Waldorf.
What do you think of this checklist? Sound off with your opinion, pro or con in the OpenWaldorf forums!
The best place to ask these questions is at Parent's Night or on your School Tour, when you'll have access to the most experienced members of the Waldorf faculty and parent-body.
Waldorf Art Curriculum
- How do you encourage self-expression in art at Waldorf? How will I see this expressed in the classrooms and in the halls?
- Does Waldorf offer rich exposure to all kinds of different art methods, media and techniques?
- What sort of art do children do other than wet-on-wet painting, beeswax modeling, and form drawing?
- When do children learn to make line drawings? When do children learn to draw faces?
- When are children given black crayons and paint?
- What percentage of the time do students try to replicate a specific image? What percentage of the time do they work out of their own imaginations?
- Is it OK if my young child draws with lines at home?
- Is it OK if my child uses black crayons?
- Is it OK if my child uses fine markers and pens?
Questions on Eurythmy
- Is it OK if my child studies different forms of dance? Ballet? Country? Tap? Folk? Urban? Ethnic?
- If eurythmy is visible speech, what are the children saying? Do they know what they're saying?
- Do the children ever spell words in Eurythmy? What do they spell? Do they know what they're spelling?
- What sort of science-based medical research has been done on the efficacy of therapeutic eurythmy? If it's so effective why haven't I heard of it? How long has it been in practice?
- Is therapeutic eurythmy studied in American medical schools?
- Might Waldorf prescribe additional eurythmy practice for my child? Would this cost extra money?
- Does the school administer Anthroposophical medicine?
- What types of diagnoses and treatments would this include?
- Who can administer Anthroposophical medicine at the school? What is their medical training.?
- May I opt out of Anthroposophical medicine? If so, how will my child be treated?
- May parents inspect the first aid kit at the school?
Anthroposophy and Waldorf
- What are the core teachings of Anthroposophy?
- Does this world view have unique implications for educating children? How does Anthoposophy's world view inform Waldorf education? Does the work at this school reflect Rudolf Steiner's world view?
- Can you assure me that the faculty at the school are committed to applying the core teachings of Steiner's philosophy here at Waldorf?
- Are reincarnation and karma core teachings of Steiner's Anthroposophy? Where is this discussed in the school literature? What are some other core teachings of Anthroposophy?
- Are Lucifer and Ahriman core teachings of Anthroposophy? Where is this discussed in the school literature?
- What is the difference between Anthroposophy and "Spiritual Science"
- Did Steiner suggest that there are certain ways that children need to be taught in order to be better prepared for reincarnation? Where would an Anthroposophist send their child to school for this preparation?
- Are there times that you might be concerned about spiritual aspects of my child, but not discuss the complete nature of your concern with me?
- Is it OK to talk to my child about world religions? Christianity? Judaism? Islam? Buddhism? Is it OK to talk to my child about Anthroposophy?
- Is it OK to talk to my child about Jesus? Is it OK to talk to my child about George Washington? Is it OK to talk to my child about Rudolf Steiner?
- Is it OK if our family does not believe in reincarnation and karma?
- Is it OK if our family does not believe in Lucifer and Ahriman?
- Is it OK if our family does not believe in anthroposophy?
- BE SENSITIVE! Don't preface your questions with "is it really true that..."
- BE POSITIVE! Ask "when?" and "how?" (e.g.: Instead of asking "Is it true you teach the heart is not a pump?" simply ask, "When do you cover the circulatory system, and how do you teach that the heart is a pump?")
- BE THOROUGH! It is YOUR responsibility as a parent to make sure that your children learns what you want them to learn.
- SEE FOR YOURSELF. If you have a concern about how a certain subject is taught at Waldorf, ask to see the "main lesson books" that cover that particular subject.
- THINK AHEAD: Don't just ask questions about your child's current grade. Some day, your Class 2 student will be in Class 6. Understand the whole curriculum.
- RESPOND APPROPRIATELY. You will always have disagreements with ANY school your child attends. If you discover something you disagree with, you may be able to address them by supplementing books and other learning aids that address your concern. You may want to try working with your faculty to correct any differences you might discover. Occasionally, parents find these difference unresolvable, but that is serious decision each parent has to make for themselves.
Waldorf's Child Development Theory
- What is Waldorf's theory of "child development?" What are the most important aspects of child development a parent should be aware of?
- How does Waldorf's theory of child development differ from mainstream child development theory? What are the most striking differences? Which other child development theories most closely match Steiner's?
- Did Steiner say that children are incarnating spiritual members, including an "etheric body," an "astral body," and an "ego?" Is this an important aspect of child development? How is this different than mainstream child development theory?
- Do teachers study this in Waldorf Teacher Training? Why would a teacher need to know this? How is this knowledge applied?
- What happens if these phases of development are ignored?
- When do you talk to parents about this? Where is this discussed in school literature?
- Is it OK if I don't believe these different bodies are developing in my child?
- What is Waldorf's position on immunization? Does Waldorf enourage parents to immunize their children against disease? Does Waldorf discourage immunization?
- Is it OK if I immunize my Waldorf child?
- Does Waldorf track the immunizations of the school population?
- Is my child at greater risk of exposure to childhood diseases if some of the students are not immunization? Is this good or bad?
- If my child has already been immunized against disease, is there a way to medically "reverse" the immunization so that my child might contract the disease, and benefit from being ill?
Discouraging Early Reading
- Why does Waldorf delay teaching kids how to read?
- Can early reading have a negative impact on growth and adulthood? Can you provide parents with mainstream studies about the dangers of early reading?
- Did any of the teachers at the school learn to read early as children?
- There are hundreds of studies that tout the benefits of early reading. Does Waldorf have any special knowledge that informs their position?
- What should I do if my child expresses an early interest in, and aptitude for reading? Should I encourage them to read?
- Is it easier to understand why Waldorf disourages early reading if you know more about anthroposophy? Can early reading damage the etheric body? Is this special knowledge mainstream researchers don't have?
- When do you talk to parents about this?
- Is it OK if I teach my child to read on my own timetable?
Questions on Birth History Survey
- How do you get to know the new students at Waldorf? Do parents complete some sort of profile or survey?
- What are the most important topics covered in the survey?
- Do you ask much about birth history? Is this one of the most important topics?
- How is this information used?
- Can birth history tell you anything about my child's past life or reincarnation? Does Waldorf use birth history in this way?
Cameras and Video at Waldorf
- Are still cameras and/or video cameras welcome at school events?
- Are there ever times that cameras or video cameras are not allowed?
- In lieu of personal photography, does the school hire professionals to photograph or video special events? How does this work? Do I have to pay extra for that?
- Is the school considering a change in the policy on photography, and if so, what would have to happen? How long would that take?
- Will I have to adjust my behavior at Waldorf if I really like taking pictures of my child?
Waldorf Advent Spiral
- What happens at Advent Spiral? How long does it last?
- What is the meaning of Advent Spiral? Where did it come from?
- Is Advent Spiral a traditional Christmas celebration? What groups have practiced it, and when?
- Is Advent Spiral unique to Waldorf and Anthroposophy? Who else performs this ritual?
- What myth inspired the Advent spiral? Are there any myths about Christmas and Advent that incorporate light and the spiral form?
- Was the spiral form important to Steiner? What did it mean to him?
- How does Steiner's myth of the end of the Atlantean era, and the dawn of the Aryan epic inform the Waldorf Advent Spiral? How is this myth relevant to Christmas? Is the spiral symbol at Waldorf Advent Spiral different than the spiral symbol in Steiner's Christmas lecture?
- Is Advent Spiral mandatory? Why? Is it OK we choose not to have our child participate in this ritual?
Verses and Prayer
- Why do children recite verses at Waldorf?
- What are the verses like? What is their purpose?
- Do children address God in the first person in Waldorf verses? If so, are they talking to God? Would a child think they are talking to God in Waldorf verses? Which God are they talking too?
- Is talking to God considered prayer? Is talking to God a religious practice?
- Are the verses also prayers? What is the difference between a "prayer" and a "verse?"
- Do children petition God in Waldorf verses? Is petitioning God considered prayer?
- Did Steiner talk to Waldorf teachers about the difference between calling something a "verse," and calling it a "prayer?" What was the difference?
- When do parents get a copy of the verses their children are learning at Waldorf?
- Define your own personal criteria for "college success." What kind of college opportunities do you want for your child?
- Determine what preparation is necessary to satisfy your personal definition of college success for your child.
- Talk to the admissions departments in the specific colleges that you are considering for your child. Find out what they think about Waldorf, how Waldorf students fare in the admission process, and how they perform as students at that particular university.
- Compare the requirements of your target colleges with the curriculum at your Waldorf school.
Media Restriction at Waldorf
- What are the risks associated with children watching television?
- Is this damage serious or irreperable? How likely is it for children who watch television to be seriously damaged? How will it affect their ability to function as adults? Can it be reversed?
- Did any of the faculty watch television when they were children? How have they been affected? How did they reverse any damage? If the risk to healthy adult development is so serious, do you screen your teachers for this? Why or why not?
- Waldorf cites the American Association of Pediatrics' (AAP) assessment of eliminating television for children under 2-years old. Is the AAP trustworthy in their overall assessment of television? Do you agree with the AAP's television guidelines for chidren over 2?
- Are there any other good reasons a Waldorf educator would want to prevent children from watching television?
- Is it possible that being called Ahriman is present in electronic media?
- Questions about different kinds of electronic media activites:
- Is it OK if I print web pages, and read them to my child like a book?
- Is it OK if I allow my child to watch home videos of family and friends? Can my child view images from my digital camera on a computer screen?
- Is it OK if I allow my child to use email to keep in touch with close family members who are geographically distant?
- Is it OK if my child listens to recorded music or stories? Can my child listen to the radio at home or in the car?
- Is it OK if my child talks on a cell phone?
- Is it OK if I use my own judgement with electronic media from time-to-time, based on special circumstances?
- If my child mentioned a TV show, movie or video game, how would the teacher handle that?
- Have any parents at the school ever been disciplined for not enforcing the Waldorf media restriction? How have different types of situations been handled? Have any families ever been asked to leave?
Improving Playground Safety
- INSPECT: Print and complete this Playground Safety Report Card.
- IDENTIFY areas that require improvement.
- SHARE your findings with your Waldorf community, perhaps in class parents' meetings, or on your prospective parent's tour.
- INFORM your children, and ask them to modify their behavior if necessary.
- ACT: Work with your school to set hard deadlines on specific improvement goals. Ask "What will it take to fix this?" and "When will we get it done?" "What's the completion date?" "Who is responsible for the shedule?"
- What is Rudolf Steiner's greatest scientific contribution that I would have heard of? Is he an essential part of scientific canon to most scientists?
- What motivated Steiner in his scientific endeavors?
- What is the relationship between Steiner's science and Anthroposophy? Are they the same thing? How does Waldorf distinguish between Steiner's practical science, and his occult science?
- What is the difference between Anthroposophy and "Spiritual Science?"
- What do you think of Anthroposophists who claim Rudolf Steiner was the reincarnation of Aristotle?
- Is there anything Steiner says that disagrees with generally accepted modern science? Who do you think is right, Steiner, or modern science?
- Is it OK if I teach my child something that differs from Waldorf science at home?
Rudolf Steiner's Authority at Waldorf
- Is there anything that Steiner says that you disagree with?
Rudolf Steiner's Clairvoyance
- Did Rudolf Steiner have any important or unique abilities?
- Are there any teachers or parents in this school who believe Rudolf Steiner's claim to be clairvoyant? Do they believe his clairvoyant visions are true? Do you believe Steiner was clairvoyant?
- Is the fact that Rudolf Steiner was clairvoyant an important thing about him?
- Where is this discussed in the school literature? How is it introduced to parents? Where can I find out more about it?
- How do Steiner's clairvoyant revelelations inform Waldorf education? Could Waldorf exist as it does today without Steiner's clairvoyant knowledge?
- When do Steiner's clairvoyant visions contradict generally accepted knowledge? How is this resolved at Waldorf?
- Does the philosophy of Waldorf accept all of Steiner's clairvoyant visions as true? Is there any of Steiner's clairvoyant knowledge that Waldorf disagrees with?
- Is it OK if our family does not believe that Rudolf Steiner had clairvoyant powers?
Waldorf and Atlantis
- What do teachers read about Atlantis in the Waldorf Teacher Training?
- How is this material handled in the training? Do teachers learn about Atlantis? Is it treated as fact?
- How do teachers apply their training on Atlantis in Waldorf the classroom? If it is not applied in the Waldorf classroom, why is it taught in Waldorf teacher training?
- Does Anthroposophy make sense without the assumption that Atlantis really existed?
- Is it OK if our family does not believe in Atlantis?
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