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Waldorf Education - One family's story

Joanna's Story

Joanna joined the school around the time of her third birthday. She had always been a strong willed child, but we never saw her as having a problem. She joined the Nursery class in April and took to it like a duck to water. She was also attending a playgroup in our local village, because we felt it important that our children mix with the village children. But she was never as happpy there as she was at the Waldorf nursery.

In June her younger brother was born. This did pose some problems at home. She was quite jealous of him, and around this time my husband also began a new job, so I was finding it diffcult to cope. However, we still didn't see Joanna as a problem. It was more that I was having difficulty coping with several changes at the same time.

In spite of all this, Joanna remained very happy at school. When she was four she asked if she could leave playgroup and attend school extra mornings instead. We saw no reason to say no.

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At this point I should explain that I have not used my children's real names in this story. This is to protect them from embarrassment. I would be quite happy for our identities to be known but, understandably, our children are not. Who we are will probably be obvious to many of the people at the school we attended. That does not really matter since they will know our story anyway. My children prefer that other people do not recognise them so I have used aliases.

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Everything changed when she was six years old. One day she refused to go into school. This continued for the rest of Kindergarten. The classroom assistant would hold her while we left. They said she settled quickly, but we were concerned as to why things had changed so suddenly.
 
The following Autumn she was due to go into Class 1. On the first day she arrived to find that the teacher had somehow not got her on his list. There were rows of desks with each child's name on, but no desk said 'Joanna'. Only a few other children were moving up to Class 1 that year and, unfortunately, most were the ones she had never been friendly with. However there was one good friend who was going up with her.

When Joanna arrived she found that it had been decided in the holidays that her friend child should spend another year in kindergarten. Nobody had thought to let us know this, so Joanna entered a room full of people she had never got along with and where there was no desk for her.
 
Right from that first moment Joanna was seen by the teacher as a problem.
He even suggested she return to kindergarten. We always felt he simply didn't want her in the class. She did cry and she did refuse to go in. We thought it was because she felt forgotten. What we didn't know was that this was simply the last straw.

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The new class teacher told me that he had been trying to ring us for the week preceeding the school term. My husband had made an appointment to see him and then, realising we would be on holiday, had left a message with the school office to cancel it. This message had never got to the teacher, and he was left wondering why we hadn't turned up. When he had been unable to contact us he had spoken to another teacher who had said we were not very committed parents. He had thought that we had changed our minds about sending our daughter to the school. I'm not sure how he deduced this as she had already been there for three years, but that is what he said.
 
At the time I was so preoccupied with trying to sort out Joanna that I didn't pursue the remark by the other teacher. When I asked him later which teacher had said this, he said he didn't remember saying that to me. The school had begun to appoint mentors for new teachers. His mentor was our son's class teacher, to whom I had written the angry letter.
 
I would hate to think that all of Joanna's problems began as a result of my criticism of the teacher and the school in that letter. In retrospect after hearing their beliefs about bullying and Karma, it does all fit in.

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