As much info, experience and advice as possible please RE:steiner education.

(173 Posts)
BeWorthy Sat 23-Nov-13 20:24:28

OK. Where do I start?

My son has always been quit ill so we put him on a very different diet where he only eats all organic, no dairy etc, no sugar etc. So his body stays as healthy as possible.

He is one of the youngest of the academic year as he was four in August. So putting him into school in September just gone was a big concern for me, maybe I'm an over protective parent (but is there such thing?) But I hated the whole idea. Admissions, school uniforms, everything. He started in September as one of the youngest and he has stuggled, and so have I. He has struggled to settle in and go into school willingly, he has struggled to sit at a table all day, he has struggled to eat a very different lunch to his classmates. I have struggled with wanting to talk to a teacher who spends more time with my child than I do but her never having the time as she has 30 four year olds. But what really irritated me recently was when I was doing homework with my son ( he has LOTS of homework, at 4, reading diaries, homework diaries, targets, etc) and he has always been left handed, but on this evening of homework after the teacher mentioning to me about his current inability to hold a pencil properly I noticed him trying to write with his Right hand. I asked him why and he said because maybe it would be easier to grip, and all of his friends do it that way. This broke my heart - I want my son to feel he can be whoever he is and not have to change that to meet expectations of society at aged FOUR.

I don't want my son to feel pressured academically, or left our because his food is not processed and bad for him.

So - my partner mentioned steiner to me. I looked into steiner schools and I had a visit on Friday. I was blown away, almost emotional at how perfect it is for us, how we parent, and for my son.

He's next in line for admissions. However, since my visit I've started to do more research and I am only seeing very conflicted views on the steiner education. I am at a loss on a decision. We are not wealthy, or even middle class. We get by. & by sending him to steiner school we'd be scraping the coins together - but I feel for an education whuch is relaxed, non-pressured, and with outstanding end results that it would be worth it. But I need to be sure, 100 percent sure almost.

So I'm looking for your views, experiences, advice so I can have as much information as possible to base my decision upon. This is a very big decision for me, this is my sons future and well-being. I know there are bad experiences, but 95% of the people I know had bad experiences with state funded schools included myself! So how can it be worse than that? The whole 'processed pea' tarred with the same brush state education system.

All views welcome

BeWorthy Sat 23-Nov-13 20:28:57

Just to add - about the whole diet/food thing. Steiner meets our diet requirements and all the children eat the same. I took my son to the Steiner Christmas fayre today and his face lit up when I told him he could eat and drink everything they had to offer, instead of saying no to candy floss and coke like all of his classmates at the moment have at events and he feels 'different'.

hoobypickypicky Sat 23-Nov-13 20:36:06

I looked into a Steiner school when my DC were little. I decided against it for various reasons but when the subject was raised on MN a few years ago I read the thread just out of interest.

I can't say who's right and who's mistaken because I've honestly no idea but it makes interesting reading. You may like to have a look yourself.

local.mumsnet.com/Talk/local_cambridge/a1336892-cambridge-steiner-school

BIWI Sat 23-Nov-13 20:41:10

Welcome to Mumsnet.

Steiner is always a controversial subject here, and there have been lots of threads about the not-so-positive aspects of it.

But then lots of threads also get deleted ...

BeWorthy Sat 23-Nov-13 20:58:48

Thanks for your comments - That thread is interesting, but I'm struggling to find threads like thes helpful. People who refer to the history of antropothesy are right, some of the aspects of this 'belief' are wrong. I grew up in Barbados and had my education there, so any racism infuriates me. But I'm more interested in real-life modern day experiences of stiener schools, not stiener himself. I know stiener belivied this stuff - but do the teachers of 2013? I mentioned I had grew up in the caribbean and the headmaster didn't 'flinch'. So I'm wondering are the extreem views of antropothesy still present? People are so custom to the norms of the majority of society that most seem to fail to see 'normal society' for what it really is. I personally feel AT THE MOMENT that state schools just create processed pea cash cows to use within society to make themselves richer. Stiener schools believe in the soul, happiness and living and enjoying life. As state schools tell you to do well, earn well, get a mortgage - is that reallt life? Am i wrong? I feel very confused! :-(

hoobypickypicky Sat 23-Nov-13 21:04:09

I can't answer that but I can suggest the (imho) perfect solution to your quest for an individually-tailored education for your son. Have you considered home educating?

defineme Sat 23-Nov-13 21:09:48

I think you would fit in really well with the ethos of the steiner school that my niece goes to.
I think if you're happy then your son will be happier too.
I think you're so vehemently against state education that you should never send your child back there because there is no way that your child will not realise how much you hate the school. If a child knows you are in conflict with their school they won't feel safe at the place they spend all day.
I think you have very very sweeping views about the majority of society: it might not be as bad as you think.

ShriekingGnawer Sat 23-Nov-13 21:39:07

My DD loves her primary school. So does my DS. They are having a rich and varied educational experience with a huge variety of extracurricular activities and are very happy. They are not pushed and are properly nurtured. I feel really sad when people write off the whole system due to one experience.

On a different note, I have worked at secondary level with children from (2 different) Steiner schools and they described some fairly awful bullying.

bundaberg Sat 23-Nov-13 21:40:31

oh how weird, i was just wondering about steiner schools!!

BIWI Sat 23-Nov-13 21:52:56

"I personally feel AT THE MOMENT that state schools just create processed pea cash cows to use within society to make themselves richer."

I'm sorry but I haven't the first clue what you mean by this. Please explain.

timetoplaysanta Sat 23-Nov-13 22:02:02

BeWorthy, are you sure he has to sit at a table all day? That sounds unusual for Reception.

At my DCs school they learn through play in Reception, and free-flow between indoor and outdoor learning spaces rich with equipment and activities. As well as the teacher, the 30 children also have a teaching assistant and often at least one parent helper too. They bring home reading books from the second term, but there was no other 'homework' other than encouragement for the parents to support their child's learning in various ways (letting them play with coins, pointing out writing in the street like road signs etc).

Perhaps you need to look at some other state primaries before considering a private school if affordability is an issue.

Re the age thing, he won't be the only one, and teachers should be used to supporting summer-borns.

When you say "he has struggled to eat a very different lunch to his classmates" you presumably mean he has a packed lunch? Again, he won't be the only one. My kids take a packed lunch, as do about 50% of their friends. If you mean he's complaining that the other kids' lunches look more tempting, then that is inevitable wherever he goes (I'm sure Steiner schools aren't dairy and sugar free, and even if they are you won't be able to shelter him at birthday parties etc).

If he wants to try writing with his other hand - let him. Lots of children swap hands for a while before settling. A Steiner school isn't going to magically solve that issue for him, because most of the children there will also be right handed.

TeacakeEater Sat 23-Nov-13 22:20:14

I was excited by this relaxed style of education and researched it through the writings of followers of this ideology. When I read their belief that immunisation interferes with the karmic destiny of a child I gave up on the idea! I was brought up to think rising levels of child survival was a good thing. Read up on this and find out the deep beliefs of those in charge.

BeWorthy Sat 23-Nov-13 22:28:41

Once again, much appreciaited by your prompt comments. The stiener schoo do infact have dairy free, meat free and refined sugar free snacks and meals which all children have so he would not feel left out or abnormal so this was a big thing for me and meant alot. I have thought about home-schooling, ofcourse - but as i said, we are not in a financial position to do so and to be on one income, and also i want him to be socialising and sharing with others outside of family. Stiener schools don't encourage writing and reading until they are ready to do so - so when i mentioned to the kindergarten headmaster about him writing and reading and homework and struggling with pencil grip she was a mixture of angry and sad as he is clearly not ready to be pressured into how and what to write and those kind of expectations. I understand and agree with what you are saying about teaching assistants in reception - and his school has that. however learning through play seemed to stop towards the end of TERM 1. And now he is expected to know, read and write 50 words a mixture of easy and tricky by the end of receptoion as the lowest expectation. I have looked at other local state schools, but they all seem to be the same. It was not a light decision when choosing schools, so i chose the one i thought was best in our area. I am definately not writing off the whole state system to one experience, i am sorry if i came across that way but ofcourse my whole family, all of my friends and myself also had the state experience. And as for bullying in stiener schools - I'm wondering if it can be as bad as state funded? is it? if so ofcourse i will take that into consideration. But i was badly bullied in state school, and due to numbers and statistics and funding they would do nothing - instead i was forced to be sat in a room all day on my own to learn, so i wasn't harmed whilst the bullies had their normal classroom eucation to protect statistics, I had to leave at 14 as it got so bad.

I suppose, i feel so confused as i don't fully agree with stiener and i disagree with state and wish there was something more middle ground - but there is not - so this post was written to get the experience and advice of those who have experienced stiener good/bad

Thanks again - apologies no spell check :-) !!!

SatinSandals Sat 23-Nov-13 22:32:29

I think that you have to look at the individual schools, they vary enormously. All that I can tell from your post is that he is the wrong school for him. Steiner schools are not all clones of each other! There will be the good, the bad and the indifferent, like anything else. I heard dire reports of our local one but I have no idea if it was typical, it just seemed to be 'the survival of the fittest' which is what you get when you have too many 'free spirits'.

SatinSandals Sat 23-Nov-13 22:34:51

When you say you 'disagree with state' you have a narrow picture of it. All schools are not like the one your son is at! Have you visited others?

BeWorthy Sat 23-Nov-13 22:38:18

Thank you satinsandals - i believe that must be the overall conclusion that we cannot tar them all with the same brush. They are independant in their ideas i suppose. @teacakeeater! i agree - I saw this and cringed enormously. My son does not get immunised, because these drugs are lined with harmful metals which could send his already comprimised immune system into shock. So even for someone who does not agree with immunisations this shocked me, "if childrens fate is to be ill then so be it" no no no, i don't agree with that at all. But that is a 1930's stiener view - so yet again is that the 2013 stiener view?

HamletsSister Sat 23-Nov-13 22:38:55

My only (anecdotal) experience of Steiner schools is that they do not "believe" in a range of common problems you encounter with children such as ADHD and dyslexia. You sound as if your anxiety has transmitted itself to your son. Perhaps you should at least try to talk it through with his current school before removing him so quickly.

BeWorthy Sat 23-Nov-13 22:39:43

@satinsandals - i understand how i may have come across that way as i have just been speaking of my son. But I've been to 9 state schools. and my family and friends are all state schooled

SatinSandals Sat 23-Nov-13 22:40:12

We have state 3 primary schools in my village and they are all as different as chalk from cheese!

BeWorthy Sat 23-Nov-13 22:42:28

@HamletsSister - yes they said he would need an overall assessment of ADHD etc as they would not be able to supply the support a child would need with those hurdles. I haven't transmitted myself onto my son - I have only recently researched sitener education and before that i made every effort to make sure my son felt that I was comfortable, after all up untill this week i believed he would spend the next 12 years in state school so made every effort to make sure he was comfortable with that and to see me comfortable with that - he is still unsettled.

TeacakeEater Sat 23-Nov-13 22:46:49

BeWorthy I have immunised my child because I believe in working together to help each other. I hope the fact that we don't have polio circulating (unlike Syria atm) means those who can't be immunised are more protected. I had a family member who was not immunised but we were glad of immunisation as a public health program iyswim.

The karma thing though can also perhaps be used to justify unfairness and bullying in life perhaps? Just speculating , but I didn't warm to the underlying world view at all!

hoobypickypicky Sat 23-Nov-13 22:49:57

I think you're underestimating home ed with respect to socialising outside of family. There are (unless you're in the middle of nowhere) loads of groups, shared learning and social activities available on a weekly basis for home edders.

I appreciate the financial aspect but then again Steiner or any other private education isn't cheap, especially as your child gets older or if you have more DC. It depends on how willing you are to sacrifice. Plent of lone parents and those on low incomes HE, they just learn to adjust.

But going back to state v Steiner and bullying, I hear you. I really do. Unfortunately it happens in all sectors, it isn't a case of it happens in state but not private although in my experience the smaller the school, the more robust the policies and the more caring the environment the less likely the chance of it happening.

Honestly, if I were in your shoes? I'd look in depth at the family finances and plans for the future and reconsider home ed and I'd consider a small independent school which met my child's needs. I don't think that this would include Steiner schools tbh.

Finally, I'd also be asking myself whether, if I did send my DC to a Steiner school, could I be sure that I would be able to afford it for the long haul and was I absolutely sure that it would be a permanent choice as I'd fear that a child who has been a pupil at Steiner would find it harder to integrate into another (state or private) school if it didn't work out that he would if he had previously attended a different establishment.

I'm sorry to put a downer on it all and of course these are only my thoughts, looking at your situation as an outsider.

BIWI Sat 23-Nov-13 22:52:15

Could you answer my question, please - and explain what you meant by

"I personally feel AT THE MOMENT that state schools just create processed pea cash cows to use within society to make themselves richer."

SatinSandals Sat 23-Nov-13 22:52:29

Small schools can be far worse with bullying if you get the 'wrong' mix of children and you can get the 'big fish in the small pond' who causes no end of trouble.

happygardening Sun 24-Nov-13 07:18:19

Surprisingly bearing in mind where my DS's have ended up we sent ours to a Steiner school for a while. DS1 did nearly two years. I agree Steiner schools vary considerably, lots strongly emphasise the anthroposophy things and are supporters go homeopathy anti vaccination etc etc others are more about encouraging childhood less formal learning more playing using your imagination playing out doors in all weathers etc etc. aiding the transition from home to school. Many are part time by the way till yr two usually only mornings.
We took DS1 first because we lived in London at the time the state options were terrible it was the fourth worst borough in the UK but the prep schools were all pushy hothouses and DS1 who was at pushy hot prep couldn't cope. It definitely gave him time to mature and he then went back into standard independent ed at yr 2.
The first school was great (now closed) many Steiner schools have building issues and can't expand much beyond kindergarten, the second was bloody awful and is well know established goes through to 16/17 and we discovered after moving to go has a dreadful reputation. It puts all it's emphasis in anthroposophy homeopathy anti immunisations etc and all that rubbish the teachers has been there years and were frankly unimaginative and stale, there is a lot of repetition in Steiner Ed and the kindergarten was full of bored boys who'd heard the unimaginative stories and done the same boring activities so many times and were frankly behaving badly the kindergarten teachers did nothing. DS2 hated it (he too had been at the hot house prep but was not unhappy) and he lasted it two term DS1 lasted it three. Frankly the parents were hideous too (unlike the ones in London who were mainly normal just desperately trying to find a middle way between terrible state schools and pushy preps) one nearly lynched me because I fed my DS a doughnut, and others were so anti conventional mainstream medication I felt it was boarding on a a child protection issue. At both were boys children who like my DS1 couldn't settle in reception classes be they state or independent nearly all return to conventional ed by yr 1 as they discover that Steiner Ed is not what they were told or thought it was going to be. Of course many were "behind" but we kept in contact with a few and all had caught up within two - three terms in fact within three terms by DS was the best reader in the class.
In retrospect I think the two term DS1 did when he should have been in reception were beneficial because it was about using your imagination playing etc and he liked the short days as did I but the yr he did at the 2nd school was at its best a waste of time and money.
I would post on a a MN local forum and try and find out about the one your looking at. As I said some Steiner schools really are rubbish the second one we sent our DS's too 10 years down the later has not changed at all. Ironically lively playful boisterous boys are often not tolerated or properly supervised and a Lord of the Flies culture emerges especially amongst those who've been in kindergarten for two- three years and have a stale and unimaginative teacher.

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