Are You Considering Waldorf for Your Special Needs Child?
Waldorf schools are often welcoming of special needs children, and Waldorf has a two-year Kindergarten program, but they start academics later than Montessori (around age eight). Montessori offers early academics in the primary 3 to 6 classroom.
And, depending on where you live, there are Waldorf charter schools (here in the U.S.) that are free to a few hundred dollars per month.
One of the moms of a child with Down syndrome in the county where we used to live was not happy with any of the local public school Kindergarten classes or special ed programs, so she sent her child to a charter Waldorf school, with an aide, and the county school district is paying for the aide.
If you think you need help with your IEP (and getting an aide) there is a book that is recommended locally for all parents of U.S. school-age special needs kids: Special Education Rights and Responsibilities by Community Alliance for Special Education and Inc. Protection and Advocacy (you can find it on their website).
If you want to consider a Waldorf school, and have one in your area, give them a call and make an appointment to do an observation, take a tour, and or go to an open house... and tell the director you have a child with special needs and are very interested in the Waldorf program.
If it is a private Waldorf school, you will then bring your child in for a classroom visit, and the director will decide, based on that visit, whether your child is ready, as well as whether he or she will need an aide.
If you have an older child I do not recommend a Montessori elementary school, unless your child has been in a Montessori preschool, because it is a very challenging environment, even with an aide! And Waldorf is a kinder, gentler option, in my opinion, for children with special needs.
Parents I know who have sent their special needs children to Waldorf, like the low stimulation, no pressure to do academics, emphasis on gardening and the outdoors, and classroom community involvement by the children.
For an extensive list, with descriptions, of Waldorf and special needs books, go here http://www.waldorfbooks.com/special-needs or here http://www.waldorfbooks.com/anthroposophy/special-needs-camphill.
To search Waldorf books on Amazon, go here.
A helpful, make that very helpful, article on Waldorf, homeschool, and special needs, is "Head, Heart, Hands" by Robin McDonald. Read it here: http://eclectichomeschool.org/articles/article.asp?articleid=321.
Posted by Lisa Nolan