Friday, May 25, 2012

The Outcome of the Waldorf Visit

Still processing our experience at the Cincinnati Waldorf School this week.

It was arranged that Kepler would visit the school for the morning and spend it in the kindergarten room to see if he would be a good fit with the school. Although I was told that they have had a few special needs children in the kindergarten, I do not know what those needs were. I tried to prepare Kepler for the fact that he was going to visit the school, but I can see now there would things it might have been good to share with him, show him?

The very nice enrollment director told me they would be looking for the ability to follow directions, to imitate the teacher's physical actions, and one other thing along those lines. Kepler can definitely do those things, so we moved forward with the visit.

We had already visited the school on an Open House day, and I got a vibe from the teacher that she would not be interested in having Kepler in her particular classroom. I understood that not everyone is interested in working with special needs children, and the more controlled environment you are after, the more that may be messed up by the unpredictability of a child with special needs.

The Waldorf school is a very special and unique environment, which I find very peaceful and relaxing. Long story short, after the visit they let me know they do not feel Kepler is ready developmentally for their kindergarten. I had somewhat anticipated this, but I did realize that they actually were wanting MORE from him than they articulated.

I think it is interesting that what they felt like was not a good fit was the amount of freedom available to the kids, and yet it's a carefully defined freedom. They felt like Kepler couldn't work with the freedom that was available. I'm pretty sure there was no orientation whatsoever for him, just a plunge directly into the classroom routine, which was different from anything he had ever seen or done.

So, it seems to me like what they were wanting was the three characteristics they mentioned, PLUS the ability to come into an unfamiliar environment and figure out what to do, what not to do, and what was ok and what was not ok. My conclusion is that this was a lot to ask of Kepler, and I can completely understand him testing limits, checking things out, etc.

I do understand and embrace their decision, and was ok with either outcome. I am just glad I was willing to give it a try, something very unfamiliar and certainly outside my control. (Have I mentioned that I've enjoyed the illusion of being in control quite a bit?) And now I know -- this isn't a good fit for my sweet boy. And I can't help thinking of what they are going to miss out on, not getting to be with this amazing boy!

1 comment: said...

I used to be a passionate advocate for inclusion, but now after 11 years in higher education, working on differentiated instruction to accommodate students with learning disabilities, I have observed that students often do better when placed in environments where their distinctive needs can be addressed appropriately.

On a personal note, my parents' approach was to enroll me and my brother in the same classes. For example, I had to be in his swimming classes to help give him extra attention because the teacher was not willing to take him in the class by himself. The result was that he learned to swim very well, but I was too distracted by helping him and still can't swim. The needs of the other Waldorf students count, too. Just my two cents.