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We've just moved to Germany from London.

Our 4 years old son, who loved going to the kindergarten in London, seems to have a lot of trouble settling in to the German kindergarten.

Language is not an issue, and he is fluent in German.

We've just received a letter from a Waldorf kindergarten that they would accept him, but we are afraid that if we decide to switch him, it could be stressful for him again.

Is it worth it?

Why would you strongly recommend the switch?

If it helps, our boy is very active, with extra batteries attached :) He'd rather play football all day long than sit down and draw a picture.

Would Waldorf be a good fit for this type of kid?

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    Thanks for asking this question. I had never heard of a Waldorf school before today and I am so intrigued that I looked to find one locally, and to my surprise I found one! Remarkably, it's more affordable than the local YMCA preschool/kindergarten program and appears to be much higher quality (they teach string instruments!) I'm scheduling a tour next week. – Jax Jul 12 '14 at 15:38
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In my experience, while certain pedagogical ideas appeal to me more than others, the personality of those who implement them is at least as important as the underlying ideas. I learned most about a kindergarten by just walking up to their garden's fence on a sunny afternoon and watching the caretakers interact with the children. Do that at both kindergartens and then ask yourself: Which people would you rather entrust your child with?

As to your specific situation: If your son has a hard time settling in, you should try to find out if there's something specific that's hindering the process of adjusting. Maybe he doesn't get along with one the caretakers? Maybe there's a kid he doesn't like? Maybe he could switch to another group? Or is it just that it's a new and strange surrounding?

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  • Most kindergartens where we live allowed parents to actually visit and sit in on a lesson for 1 hr or so as well. – user3143 Aug 13 '14 at 19:25
  • @user Same here. (At least it used to be, when we were looking.) However, IME, you learn more when those taking care of the kids feel unwatched. – sbi Aug 13 '14 at 19:45
  • true. I didn't mean to imply that sit-in should be a substitute. You should also try to talk to parents as the leave or drop kids off – user3143 Aug 13 '14 at 20:00
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    @user The latter is indeed good advice. That's how I did (not) pick a school for one of my kids: The parents I talked to in front of the school weren't overly eager to praise the school their kids went to. All alarms went off there. – sbi Aug 13 '14 at 20:04
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I'm not sure anyone other than you could really say what your son specifically would be a good fit for, but Waldorf (and similarly at this stage, Montessori) schools are likely a good fit for an active child, as they encourage that activity and the learning that comes from it. I'll leave out the discussion of the benefits/drawbacks of Waldorf in general and the other issues some people have with the teaching method, as it seems off topic for this question - but if you haven't researched Waldorf thoroughly, you should; some people love it, some people have significant issues with elements of it.

I wouldn't be too concerned about stress from adjustment. Kids get better at adjusting the more they do it (up to a point!), and an adjustment at this point (fairly early on, from how you describe it) shouldn't be too much of a problem for him in the long term. I would suggest involving him in the discussion, if you can; consider taking him to the school on a 'visit' for an hour or two, if the school will allow it, and asking him if he likes it. At 4 he probably can't fully form or express a complete opinion, but you may be able to get some signals at least.

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    It's hard to disagree with your answer in general. We asked him actually and he said he doesn't want to go to switch, but like you suggested at this age some decisions have to be made for him. Also you are right I haven't researched Waldorf thoroughly and don't have friends with experience. Hence my question here. I understand it's could be very subjective but I would love to hear from people what they loved and hated the most about Waldorf. – Mr. L Jul 11 '14 at 17:09
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I would recommend visiting the Waldorfschool and ask the questions that are of a concern, and listen carefully to the answers!

I have been a Waldorfteacher in the higher grades of school. My subjects were physics, chemistry and mathematics.

There is an experience, that I would like to share! (from a Waldorf school in Kalmar, Sweden)

For many years ago there was a young "preschooler", that was a great challenge to the school. Every time there was a sports day in school, we would hear this "loud noise" and screaming, that cam from him.

(How would it be when, he eventually would come to my physics lessons in grade 7?)

When he actually did come in the 7th grade, he was a well behaved student! He did his work well and with a personal interest! I had to acknowledge the great work of his teacher, who had had him in her class all these years! He had finally found himself!

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