What kind of discipline does this school practice? Does the school have a student conduct policy?

For younger children, the most important discipline method in Waldorf education is modeling useful behaviors. “Modeling” means demonstrating the desirable behavior. By behaving in the way we want our children to behave, they naturally copy what they see and hear us doing. Of course, some behaviors need a stronger intervention. For example, sometimes a young student (who may be poking or annoying his fellow students) is invited to watch the others play until he is ready to join back in in a positive way.

In addition, our school actively solicits the cooperation of parents and families in fostering conduct that is conducive to learning. We can be most effective in teaching good conduct when we’re all on the same page, working together. A “student conduct policy” is included in the new student handbook, which clarifies the kind of conduct that is expected of students and also speaks to the disciplinary approach that is taken. Here is a quote from our new Student Conduct Policy:

The student conduct policy is mean to address patterns of unacceptable behavior exhibited by any student at Shepherd Valley Waldorf School. When a child exhibits such behavior we do not assume that she/he is a “bad” child, nor do we ever address him or her as such. Rather, our goal is to help such children, without shame, humiliation or blame, to become aware of and transform their behavior for the better.

Most of the processes behind this policy apply to students in the grades program. In the early childhood classes, a positive approach to discipline is emphasized, and the young child is gradually led toward an experience of self-discipline. Discipline situations are all unique and the teacher involved uses his or her discretion in handling each circumstance appropriately. In every case, we aim to promote learning appropriate behaviors. The young child is highly imitative and learns by doing. Much of our discipline efforts rely on repetitively leading the child to the desired behavior.

Waldorf schools have recently adopted an approach by Kim John Payne that involves working with parents to address serious behavior issues without resorting to drugs such as Ritalin. This approach incorporates conventional methods such as “compassionate communication” as well as traditional Waldorf methods. This new approach is in response to observable changes in children, who just have a harder time paying attention than children used to. Left unchecked, a child who doesn’t pay attention can disrupt the whole classroom and prevent anyone else from learning. Addressing this kind of issue without drugs can involve a lot of work on the part of parents, because there may be dietary, environmental, media, and other factors that play a role in it. There’s really no magic bullet–except drugs, of course, and then who knows what the long term cost would be to the child? I am glad that Waldorf schools are exploring this difficult area, for the sake of our children and our future.

See our FREE REPORT for information on how to avoid certain activities that may contribute to behavior problems, including ADD!