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Subject:Reading Issues from a concerned Grandmother
Time:10:16 am
Hi all,
My nine year old grandson is in the 3rd grade and cannot read at all.  Most of his other classmates are already reading.  He's very smart and wants to read.  I don't have any experience with Waldorf education and am worried that this will have a permanent effect on his life.  My grandson has been read to  practically from birth and loves stories and each day is filled with reading.  Sometimes he will try read a word or two but most times it's guessing a word from its context.

I know reading is not like learning to walk. It doesn't happen by osmosis and requires lots of practice, reading out loud, instruction in grammar, spelling etc. When does this happen in a Waldorf School?

Can anyone share their experiences with learning to read at a Waldorf school. Thanks so much...

A worried Grandmother
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inahandbasket
Link:(Link)
Time:2007-08-16 05:40 pm (UTC)
2nd grade if I remember correctly.
It's one of my major issues with waldorf education. I was reading at like age 3-4, I started at a waldorf school in third grade and was bored out of my skull listening to kids fumbling over simple reading in class.
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zombieprone
Link:(Link)
Time:2007-08-16 05:53 pm (UTC)
I was in a Waldorf school from nursery through 12th grade, and I believe I was a fluent reader by the end of third grade. Before that, however, we did tons of work with sounds and letters. I picked it up fairly quickly and was reading at a college level by the time I was in 6th grade.

The instruction comes later based on Steiner's theories on developmentally appropriate literacy instruction, but that does not mean that your grandson might not need some extra help. Have you had him tested at all? Perhaps he is dyslexic? It could also be that reading is just coming a bit slower to him, which happens. In my opinion (as a Waldorf-alum-turned-public-school-teacher), some extra help/testing might be a good step to take. His general physician could probably guide you in the correct direction for this. Best of luck to you and your family!
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urban_homestead
Link:(Link)
Time:2007-08-16 05:57 pm (UTC)
In case it reassures you, the education system in Finland shares the Waldorf practice of not starting to teach reading until age 7, and PISA (the Program for International Student Assessment) has consistently ranked Finnish students as the best readers in the world. Educational psychologist Jane Healy, who is also not Waldorf-affiliated, has confirmed through her own research that there is no lifelong benefit to reading early - in fact, many students who learn to read later end up being much better readers overall because their level of brain development means they are better able to process the new skill. So, while this may seem a little "weird" to non-Waldorf parents and grandparents, there's good science suggesting that in the long run the Waldorf delayed approach to reading - and letting each child learn to read at his or her own pace - really does make for the most literate students.
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zombieprone
Link:(Link)
Time:2007-08-16 06:20 pm (UTC)
Amen to that.
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tofuviking
Link:(Link)
Time:2007-08-17 03:20 am (UTC)
I can attest to that. Your grandson sounds exactly like I was. I was read novels every night as a child, loved everything about literature, I just couldn't read when I was "supposed" to.
Your grandson will be perfectly fine. When he really wants to read he will, that's why I started reading, I wanted to read more books faster then my parents would read them to me.

Don't worry, everyone is unique; if he's as smart as you say he is he'll be tearing through any book he can get his hands on in no time.
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trinity2
Subject:Reading in Finland.
Link:(Link)
Time:2007-12-03 11:53 pm (UTC)
I've heard this said before as a way of explaining the Waldorf philosophy of delayed reading. I have a Finnish friend with children in the public school system there. He said that reading instruction indeed begins at age 7 and is taken very seriously. If a child doesn't read by the end of the school year, the child is not promoted and will remain in that grade until they learn to read. Fortunately, this happens to very few children.

Also, substantial research supported by NICHD shows the majority of children who fail to develop basic reading skills by age nine, rarely "catch up". This is what worries me.
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moon2beam
Subject:learning to read
Link:(Link)
Time:2007-08-16 09:10 pm (UTC)
I went to Waldorf school from 1st-8th grade. The school was very small, but full of brilliant creative children. Unfortunately, I have some cognitive learning disabilities, that were not picked up on. It wasn't until the summer after 3rd grade that my mother noticed I wasn't reading yet. (My twin sister had started reading years before). Waldorf or not, and unless specially prepared, are not honed into the details of learning disabilities that arise (especially between 1st and 3rd grade). The creative teaching methods (as mentioned by others), can help a learning disability in different ways. But don't let your child fall to far behind! For the sake of their self esteem, seek out xtra help for your kid!
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zombieprone
Subject:Re: learning to read
Link:(Link)
Time:2007-08-17 12:35 pm (UTC)
I think it bears mentioning that, if testing reveals that your son has some learning difficulties, that DOES NOT mean that he needs to be taken out of the Waldorf school; it might still be the best environment for him. His teacher could just modify the program slightly for him. Have you spoken with him/her? S/he might have some suggestions too. :) Good luck!
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sifen
Subject:Re: learning to read
Link:(Link)
Time:2007-08-17 11:11 pm (UTC)
I second that. I went to Waldorf 1st-8th, have a learning disability, and had trouble reading in third grade. At the end of third grade, I was still not doing well with reading. Luckily, my parents got me some extra help from an outside tutor and that really helped things. I'm now a junior at Skidmore College and although a lot of people raise their eyebrows when they hear how long it took me to read, I'm doing well academically. I think that my time in Waldorf education was far more valuable than if I had gone to public school and been "forced" to read in first grade and then labeled "stupid" when I couldn't.
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trinity2
Subject:Re: learning to read
Link:(Link)
Time:2007-12-03 11:05 pm (UTC)
HI Sifen,
Thanks for sharing your experiences with reading. When did your parents get you extra help? Did your teacher suggest it or did they decide on their own? I'm glad to hear you got the help you needed to deal with your learning disability and are now in college. You make an excellent point about children with learning disabilities being "labeled" and made to feel dumb in some schools. I can only assume this does not happen in a Waldorf School.
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cym3n
Subject:A bit late...
Link:(Link)
Time:2007-09-20 06:02 am (UTC)
I was in the same shoes as your grandson a long time ago. I was really frustrated that other people (like my older brother!) could read books but I couldn't. I remember wondering why it I couldn't do it. Just sitting in front of the bookshelf trying to figure it out.

I don't remember what happened next but I could read. I spent the rest of grade school reading as much as I could. I don't think it held me back at all. I'm still a tiny bit resentful that reading starts so late in Waldorf education. I think it should start sooner. On the other hand, I suffered no ill effects and am willing to concede that others might know more about this topic than I!

Full disclosure: My mother is a Waldorf teacher and has been for 15-20 years.
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chriscassidy
Subject:Late bloomer
Link:(Link)
Time:2007-12-03 08:33 pm (UTC)
I think that when an interest in reading is fostered early, in the home, because the parents enjoy and value reading, then it is not a struggle or a problem learning. My mother loved to read and read to me early and I knew how to read before I entered public school at age 5. It is surprising to me to see a child that old not reading but it is interesting to see so many people say not to worry. They also say boys are later in learning some things than girls are, so that may be part of it too.
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trinity2
Subject:Re: Late bloomer
Link:(Link)
Time:2007-12-03 11:01 pm (UTC)
Enthusiasm and interest is not a factor. If that's all it took, he would have been reading while he was barely out of diapers. He's been read to from the time he could sit still to listen (6 months) and has always loved a good story, being read to daily before bed. He's always loved looking at storybooks on his own and was happy to graduate to "chapter books" where we read to him. He's very eager to learn to read and recognizes some words but can barely read the simplest of books. When should his family seek outside help? 10? 11? 12? He's 9 1/2 now. Right now, he's still eager to learn and doesn't feel badly that he cannot read ... at least it appears that way. Thank goodness.
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califuerstin
Link:(Link)
Time:2007-12-06 08:20 am (UTC)
My nephew is 8 and in the 2nd grade at the Waldorf School here. He's beginning to learn to read and can do word recognition, but isn't "reading" per se. While I was educated in a public school and learned to read much younger, I don't see any problems with his later development. We read a lot during the day, and their father reads to them at night. He loves books (he even thinks the Harry Potter books we're reading are better than the movie). I wouldn't worry too much. Give it time, and don't hesitate to practice a lot a home.
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lyricalgirl
Link:(Link)
Time:2008-11-10 03:56 pm (UTC)
I have mixed experiences with reading and Waldorf schools. In the effort to allow every child their own developmental time, help may not come as early as could be beneficial. Just an observation. My own experience has led me to recognize that all children learn to read at different times and in different ways. Some it almost seems read from the time they can hold a book (I was one such child), and others must work harder to become comfortable (my daughter - a Waldorf student from age 4 1/2 who also loves literature of any kind from being read to and hearing stories, but didn't really start picking up books to read on her own until 6th grade. She still prefers listening to reading, though as a high school student she seeks out books that interest her (i.e. Shakespeare, James Herriot, even the newspaper) and seems to have no difficulties with the mechanics).

I don't have an answer to when to seek help (though I think I would at least by the end of 3rd), but I do have a resource that has been extremely helpful with children I have worked with: Reading Reflex by Carmen and Geoffrey McGuiness. Easy to use at home to develop at least the basic "how to" skills. I do think some children really do need the help...
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[icon] Reading Issues from a concerned Grandmother - The Waldorf Community
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