A Montessori Teacher's Thoughts on Waldorf Education
As a Montessori 3-6 and 6-9 trained teacher, I have a lot of respect for Waldorf education, even though I was drawn to (fell in love with!) Montessori at a young age (23). And as a Montessori teacher, I have recommended it for a few children (usually two students per year) who were graduating from our 3-6 classroom, because I (we) felt it was a better choice for those particular children. Their interests, or should I say passions, were not with the Montessori materials, and certainly not academics like phonics and simple math, but instead they loved arts, crafts, practical life, the outdoors, and botany.
One of the attributes I like about Waldorf is its sensitivity for the development of the WHOLE child: mind, body, and spirit. Also, there is a lot of emphasis on fine motor (like weaving, knitting, sewing), nature, cooking, playing, arts and crafts, large motor play, story telling, poetry, songs, critical thinking, and literature.
Speaking of large motor, children really benefit from an emphasis on large motor movement activities, which aid in the function of right and left brain development: thus improving reading and writing skills between the ages of five and nine.
What I can say about childhood development is that not all professionals agree that children as young as four, five and six should be doing academic work, that their right-brain and left-brain development is not completed, in fact, in some children, especially boys, it is delayed as compared to girls. And Waldorf takes this to heart--academic reading begins at age eight. (Read this informative blog post on Waldorf and reading.)
If you think your child would do better (and be happier) in a Waldorf-style environment, with arts, crafts, cooking, large motor, fine motor, songs, story telling, and a lot less emphasis on academics until the later years... then Waldorf just might be the better choice.
Read some Waldorf blogs, my favorite is the Magic Onion. And they have a great article you can print out and read.
Happy reading! You may also be interested in my online Montessori and homeschool at Montessori for the Earth.