Simply put - education for the whole child.
But let's start before that. How, as a child of public schooling primary, and scholarship schooling for highschool (still public) with a parent in the teaching arena in a public school, and who rates my highschool years as some of the best of my life (and who had a great primary school life), did I come to the conclusion that Steiner was for our children? Previously I had said 'public schooling all the way' for my child/ren... and really not been... whatever the word is when someone mentioned 'alternative' schooling...
Well it kind of began in our Mother's Group. There were various aspects of our group that as the years went on were getting further and further from where I wanted to be as a parent. Lovely people, just with different ideals and priorities to me. That's how the world is. But I knew it wasn't what I wanted for raising my/our child/ren. Long story short there, one of the other Mums who was in the same boat as me, said 'why don't you try this other playgroup I'm going to?' Took me a while but I did. My first taste of Steiner was through Steiner playgroup, with a toddler and a small baby.
Well... let's just say that I probably had the most 'full on' group there ever was. And it spun me right out. Talking about foods and concepts that threw me for a six! What the heck was I doing here? This wasn't me! Fortunately our playgroup leader saw my thoughts quite clearly and came to me quietly and said that yes, this was rather a ... an interesting group and if I would like to try a group on [another morning] (can't remember what morning it was now!), that I might feel more comfortable there. And I did. So much so that some of those Playgroup children and families were still in my Daughter's primary class until last year when they moved down south.
Second to that was the same friend who urged me to come to the playgroup responded to me with a reassuring laugh that not everyone is as extreme as that one group, and that shhh! people still have Red Rooster and Lego in their house! LOL Steiner schooling can be whatever you ask it to be for your child, you and your Family. If you imagine a 'line' and at one end are the more 'extreme' and the other the very 'liberal' Steiner parents (with regard to the 'Steiner-ness' itself), then most of the Parents I know at school fall somewhere in the middle.
So that's how we got there. Why did we decide that Steiner schooling was for us? Well, back in the first time Mum's group, there began the conversation about private schooling and enrolling babies on waiting lists and all that. I was so relieved that wasn't me! I did like some of the opportunities that private schooling offered outside of the academic - like abseiling, arts, music and not just run-of-the-mill stuff, but there were too many things I didn't like about it... and the older my first child got, the more I thought about school... and realised that in the catchment area we fell into, I didn't want any of those schools either... actually, I didn't want any public schooling... knowing that... where to next?
Enter Steiner schooling. Having my foot in the sand and feeling how good it was between my toes (playgroup) I really wondered what the rest of the garden was like. I'd heard all these 'stories, myths' about Steiner schooling but from the insight I had into it via playgroup, none of those rang true... so I did a lot of reading... asked questions of my ever-patient friend, and found out as much as I could.
And so began our Kindergarten experience at Steiner school. And it was everything you could ever ask for a child... truly. I was amazed that my (unbeknowns to me) 'perfect' or 'ideal' vision of what Kindergarten would be for a child, existed at all... I didn't even really dream of it because it was so not what I thought possible.
As to Anthroposophy - you can choose to know a lot about it or barely any at all. It's not neccesary for you as a parent and it's nothing the children are ever taught. At our school we have families of just about every religious and cultural background going - so it need not clash with your personal beliefs. What rings true for me is that even with( initially) no knowledge of Anthroposophy, I can see on a practical and educational level why/that Steiner education works and why it appeals to me, and why it is a great way to learn for the children.
Children learn through play. Play is often very underrated as a learning mechanism. In Kindergarten play is their learning and boy do they learn so much. I am often amazed with what our Kindergarten children came/come home with in terms of knowledge and skills, language and their nature.
Ok some might say, that's great for when they are little. But what about 'real' schooling (again a reflection on the perception of 'play' as of 'lesser' importance than formal learning)? What about teaching the kids 'real' stuff?
that is a post for another day. In the meantime, this should get your brain ticking
'There is more to reading than meets the eye'...