by Anita Beinikis, Waldorf Parent since 2007
There never was a question. My child would go to The Waldorf School of Cape Cod. It made no matter that I didn’t actually have a child yet; it would be a few years before that came to pass. On a cold November Saturday, I found myself in the middle of a loud, colorful school teeming with happy children. Banners, beeswax and blocks emphasized the tactile environment in which they were immersed. Adults were laughing and everyone was caught up in the spirit of the season. Hallways spilled over with enthusiasm as well as bulky coats and hats leftover from outside play. Classrooms were full of both seasonal and traditional Waldorf color and flair. I was enchanted. One afternoon spent at the school’s annual holiday fair awoke in me the realization that a school could be a place where there was joy in learning. I brought home a brochure outlining the school’s curriculum, read it closely, and vowed that any child of mine would find her way to the Waldorf School.
That was more years ago than I care to remember. The child-yet-to-be is now my 7th grade daughter. She is nearly at the end of her years at the Waldorf School; which both excites and overwhelms me. This impending milestone provides me with the opportunity to reflect on how that initial exposure to the Waldorf School spurred what would soon be a decade long immersion in Waldorf education for my daughter.
I think the question “Why did I choose a Waldorf education for my girl?” should really be “Why do I continue to choose Waldorf for her?” After all, we live in an area with a solid public school system and the opportunity to choose from several good private middle schools. We are surrounded by an abundance of academic riches. I admit it; when I am asked by friends if I will continue to enroll her now that she is in 7th grade, a time when many families start thinking about preparing for high school and beyond, I struggle to share what I know in my heart about this place and all it has provided both my daughter and me as her parent.
My girl is surrounded daily by literature, numbers, languages, sciences, hand work and music, all of which create a rich environment that has fostered her love of reading and quest for knowledge. At present math and Latin are her favorite subjects. Learning through a developmentally-appropriate curriculum has allowed her to meet challenges when she is ready, forging ahead on her own when she is eager to try more complex material. The result is a confident young woman who never doubts that she can do what she needs to do. Beyond her school work she has absorbed the lesson of what it takes to be a thoughtful, kind, collaborative member of her community. She does not learn by memorization and repetition. Instead she is a problem solver, ready to step up and participate in all that awaits her. This is the child I am privileged to call mine and offer to the world as part of the next generation of creative thinkers and doers who believe that anything and everything is possible. This is why she continues to attend The Waldorf School. This girl will be, and already is, a young woman of substance.