Our daughter is going to a Waldorf School in the East Bay. We heard about Waldorf from a friend of ours who is a teacher, and the more we heard, the more we liked. Ariel is in second grade, and she and we are liking this school and the way it teaches children more and more.
It's based on a very rich philosophy called anthroposophy, which I have barely scratched the surface of understanding. An important principle is that you involve the entire being of the child when teaching them - physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. You don't just sit them at a desk and give them homework and tests. As some examples, they have a movement class every week, and their first exposure to times tables is by doing step dances in a circle, emphasizing the two-beat, the three-beat, the four-beat, etc.
The latest revelation for me was how she is learning her times tables visually, and is getting her first introduction into geometry. Take a look at the beautiful 10-pointed star below that Ariel drew
Note how the circle has the numbers 0 to 9 around it. The way she draws the star is she places her pen at '0', and then says "seven times one is seven" and draws a line to the 7. Then she says "seven times two is fourteen" and draws a line to the 4, and so on. In this way she draws a ten-pointed star, and then she spends time coloring it in to make it beautiful.
In the last week she has done this about six times at home, and this is without having any homework assigned. She just loves to do it.
I find myself really happy for her, and a little bit jealous - I am terrible at math, in part because I struggled with it at school (in particular my times and addition tables) and now I find myself freezing up when trying to do basic math operations. If I had learned math this way, I think I would have loved it...