A Mother’s Job in the Waldorf Homeschool Kindergarten

It is not your job to be teaching academics quite yet; but it is your job to be laying the healthy foundations for later science, math and reading and writing through multi-sensorial experiences, festival experiences, outside time, nature walks, and gross motor skills.  It is also your job to be developing your own skills so you can show your child how to do things throughout the grade school years.

Lovey over at Loveyland (http://lovey-land.blogspot.com/)  and I brainstormed this list quite a while ago, but I still think it provides some direction and perhaps a plan for mothers who are trying to learn about the different practical elements of Waldorf education:

Child Age 2

Mothers should be working on:

Inner work

Strong rhythms

Storytelling

Puppetry (sewing skills)

Singing

Verses for transitions

Preparation for festivals

Discovering how to get your child into their body – this is VERY important; see post on this blog about this subject:  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/01/10/getting-children-into-their-bodies-part-one-birth-to-age-2-and-a-half/

Child Age 3

Mothers should be working on all of the above, plus:

Baking and cooking

Wet felting

Learning a foreign language, preferably songs and verses in a foreign language

Child Age 4

Mothers should be working on all of the above, plus:

Wet –on -wet watercolor painting

Modeling

Woodworking

Child Age 5

Mother should be working on all of the above, plus:

Gardening and preserving food

Simple plant, animal and tree identification  (this will not come in until grades three and above, but it is hard to make up a story about a Willow Tree Fairy if you don’t know what a willow tree looks like or if one grows in your area).

Dollmaking  – some children make a simple doll as a more complex project for the 6 year old year

Child Age 6

Mother should be working on all of the above, plus:

Pennywhistle

Drawing and coloring with block crayons (you will need this for First Grade)

Knitting (will need in Grades One, Two)

Crocheting

Work on memorizing longer, more complex fairy tales for this year and subsequent years.

Hopefully that gives you a place to start,

Carrie

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29 thoughts on “A Mother’s Job in the Waldorf Homeschool Kindergarten

  1. Thanks for this great post! I have a 2 1/2 year old son whom we plan to homeschool.

    We love everything we’re learning about Waldorf and need to make sure we don’t rush into things that are above his developmental level. This is such a helpful list – I’ll definitely keep and refer to it.

    Thanks!

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    • Hi Valeri,
      Are you coming to Waldorf late? What grades are you starting in the fall? Usually an 8 year old would be in second grade – so things such as knitting with knit stitch and pearl stitch, kinderlyre, a blowing instrument such as recorder/pennywhistle/pentatonic flute, woodworking, gardening, drawing with block and stick crayons, wet on wet painting all come to mind as skills to have on hand for the second grade. Second grade also covers things such as fables, aninmal trickster tales, carrying and borrowing in math, form drawing along an axis….How comfortable are you with all of that? Will your ten year old be in fourth grade or starting fifth grade? That would help narrow down what skills are needed for that grade.

      Keep us posted, hopefully that helps a bit.
      Carrie

  5. My daughter went to a Waldorf preschool and loved it. I didn’t send her back to the private school because of the cost involved. I tried getting her into our local charter school that is Steiner inspired for three years (off and on) and never succeeded. She’s now almost 11 and will be “entering” 5th grade at home.

    I’ve un-schooled her younger brother (8 years old) for a year now and he’ll be “entering” 3rd grade.

    My daughter wanted a curriculum, rather than be unschooled, and we talked of using a Waldorf curriculum. So, I’m looking around for used curriculum and think I may have found some.

    That’s our story. Just wanted to know where my head should be. I’m working on a garden for the first time and we’ve now got chickens and a clothesline in the back. And I’ve just taught myself knitting. As you can see, I’m on an urban homesteading kick. What else should I be doing? (I’m also leading my daughter’s SpiralScouts hearth.)

    • What resources do you have? I think something such as Donna Simmons’ Waldorf Curriculum Overview would be incredibly helpful to you as each grade is laid out from a homeschooling perspective and also how it might look in a Waldorf classroom as well. For Third Grade, both Melisa Nielsen of A Little Garden Flower and Donna Simmons of Christopherus have homeschool curriculum available, for Fifth Grade only Melisa has currriculum available.
      Third Grade is the practical grade of doing, gardening, farming, agriculture, housing and building and erecting structures, crocheting, sewing (most schools have a hand-sewing block at this time that includes embroidery). Third Grade is also the time of cursive writing, memorization of multiplication tables, money, time, measurement, crossing midline in form drawing, playing simple tunes on the recorder/pennywhistle/flute, and much more. It is also the time for Native American tales, Old Testament Stories.
      Fifth Grade is that time of balance and Fifth Grade Mythology lessons – Kovacs’ Ancient Mythologies is a well-loved resource by many with a focus on biographies. Geometry is introduced (I believe Melisa Nielsen has a new Geometry book out), and botany. Knitting socks on four needles is often done in this grade. You can also check out the Eugene Schwartz website and see how he lays out blocks for the years. You can also order samples of hundreds of pages from Main Lesson Books from him, which I would consider for Fifth Grade as there is so much information to cover.
      I would strongly consider getting a half hour consultation with one of the major consultants (Melisa Nielsen, Donna Simmons, Barbara Dewey, etc) — it may be well worth it to spend 30 to 50 dollars so you don’t waste money buying curriculum you do not need or anything unnecessary.
      Hope that helps,
      Carrie
      PS Love your chickens! :)

  6. At this point I have none. I have the opportunity to buy a used copy of Live Ed’s fifth grade curriculum for about $300. Do you think this is a good price/idea? It seems high to me, but I don’t have much experience with it.

    I’ve also emailed someone with an agreement to purchase a 3rd grade Oak Meadow curriculum for $100.

    • You may consider joining Melisa Nielsen’s A Little Garden Flower yahoo group homeschoolingwaldorf@yahoogroups.com and asking on there before you spend so much money on Live Ed! Some mothers love it, some mothers felt it was still a lot of work to put together. Oak Meadow is not especially true to Waldorf, but some mothers use it as a jumping off point before they feel confident enough to dive into more pure Waldorf. Check out Donna SImmons’s Christopherus website and see what she has available for Fifth Grade and Third Grade, including posts in her blog, Eugene’s free resource of how he schedules blocks (if you google Millennial Child it should come up) and look all through the products Melisa Nielsen offers..
      $400 is a lot of money, so I know you want to spend it in the wisest and most effecient way possible ! This is where a consultation with Christopherus or A Little Garden Flower may really help you out!
      Many blessings, I know you will end up with just the right thing for your family and homeschooling experience,
      Carrie

    • Welcome! Have a peek at the Waldorf Kindergarten tag in the tag box, there may be other posts there that interest you!
      Many blessings,
      Carrie

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  8. I would highly recommend Live Ed. It is an excellent, truly anthroposophic, well-written and beautifully illustrated Waldorf curriculum. It also includes phone and email support FOR THE ENTIRE YEAR. I have used all of them, and Live Ed is just amazing!

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  10. I am new to all of this but interested…

    How would a four year old do wood working? He loves watercolors! Any recommendations for an online shop where I could buy Waldorf supplies for a 4 year old? I also have a 1 and 2 year old… I got them a Waldorf play kitchen for Christmas and the way there imaginations have taken off is incredible!

    • Hi Deborah – I believe at our local Waldorf Kindergarten here in town, the children sanded pieces that were later assembled by the teacher into a wooden toy. (The teacher was male and into woodworking)…..So even sanding blocks for play could be a possibility. As for supplies, I recommend Bella Luna Toys and going the GreenTaraMamma yahoo group as the list owner offers database deals for wooden figures and the like. :)
      Many blessings and Welcome!
      Carrie

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  12. Hi Carrie,

    I have absolutely no sewing skills (which makes Waldorf very intimidating for me!) and was wondering if you could recommend a resource to help me with the “Puppetry (sewing skills)” area, as my son is just about 2. I am so jealous of people who learned this skill as a child! Do you think it is possible to learn from a book?

    Megan

    • Megan,
      I do think these skills are so much easier to learn in person if you have a resource like that…Suzanne Down does amazing workshops, many of her puppets are needle felted characters. This year I learned how to make a silk marionette, which I know there are instructions for simple ones in “Toymaking With Children” and I believe in the back of “Beyond The Rainbow Bridge”, but I don’t think I would have gotten the head tying down if I had not had a person in real life, you know? Sometimes if you have a school local, they have parent child classes where you can learn some of these skills, or sometimes a handwork teacher will teach private classes…
      I guess you can start with the books, but you may need a real life resource depending on how adept you are!
      Many blessings,
      Carrie

  13. Hi Carrie,
    I have just bookmarked probably 100 of your posts to come back and read thoroughly another time. I wish I had just an ounce of your ability to be prolific. Thank you, and God bless you for seeking to usher the world along towards something better with your talents. I have long loved Waldorf. My parents met in a Waldorf community in the 70s. I find that I have been lazy in my understanding of many of the principles, and have mostly soared on the gists my parents imparted. I seek to be a Christ follower foremost. We have in the past year moved to a town with a Waldorf School, and I feel so lucky that my 5 year old will be starting his second year there (first year was 3 day nursery, this year is the first of 2 years of half day kindergarten). I also have an almost 2.5 year old mostly at home with me. I struggle with incorporating rhythm into our daily lives, partially because I am too tired (as night owl, co sleeper and part time RN with long, though thankfully one weekly shifts, I drag so in the morning and throughout the day) and also because I spend time gathering information, but then run out of time to actually carry it out. Homeschooling is something I no doubt will more formally consider, as we navigate the many aspects of our situation. My question today is specific. My church will be spending the next years going through Long Story Short (Ten Minute Devotionals to Draw Your Family to God) by Marty Macowski. He also has a children’s bible, The Gospel Story Bible, and another devotional, Old Story New. These resources are marketed for preschoolers through about 5th grade. We have the Jesus Storybook Bible as well on our shelf as well. I have just started the devotional I mentioned, and I wanted your opinion on the appropriateness of these works, for small children. With the Jesus Story Book Bible, my sister, who is not a Christ follower, was so upset by the sadness my 4 year old felt when everyone had to leave the Garden of Eden. As I was starting the Long Story Short and we were talking about how God alone is the able to breath life and create from nothing, and how animals differ from humans: “We can love, create, sacrifice for others, write words, and tell stories-things that the animals cannot do! This week we are going to learn how God made man very special.” These are all truths with which I agree. I just was picturing all the stories about animals that we read (Thorton Burgess…Lightfoot the Deer) and the fairy tales that are to come, and the magic and limitless abilities that some of the characters will possess, and I wondered if this would be in line with your idea of developmentally appropriate materials. My almost 5 year old is probably overly intellectually developed, but I am trying to prolong his childhood. Any thoughts? I realize that you cannot possibly read every resource that is out there. If you see these items in a book store, or are able to sample a few pages on Amazon, I would welcome your thoughts.
    Celeste

    • Celeste,
      I love that you are here and I just saw your comment. Let me think about the lengthy book I want to say on this subject and see if I can condense it down a bit, okay? I will come back and write more tonight.
      Blessings and love,
      Carrie

    • Thank you Carrie, I am so glad that you have thoughts about this subject and have some insights to share . No rush. Whenever you have a moment I look forward to your thoughts.
      Celeste

    • Celeste,
      So I have been thinking a lot about this. I wrote some posts sort of geared to this a very long time ago, like 2009 or something and as my faith has grown and our faith life has expanded I would say those posts no longer accurately reflect what I think, so I will have to write something updated. You can look for that in the future. But for now, I am going to leave you with this – the small child is in the active world of faith. Cultivating stillness and silence as a precursor to hearing God (usually most quiet outside in God’s creation). Living the liturgical life of the year at church by attending church services/mass all the time. If your church celebrates a strong liturgical year and feast days of saints and holy people, all the better. Small children are experiential learners, but so are we as adults in the world of faith. Faith is a matter of the development of the heart, the nous, and we do that through the foundation of our senses and the cultivation of asceticism, becoming more like Jesus and ridding ourselves of our earthly passions. Praying together, doing acts of mercy for the poor, yes, sharing the stories of the Bible are important for children within this active life of faith, but not just a head approach of reading. However how much more the beautiful stories are when what they mean is in the context of the doing of the Liturgy or church service within the cycle of the year. For smaller children, that is what I am thinking of. For actual resources (outside of praying, working on cultivating stillness, and seeing parents modeling fasting, praying, a life of good charity and good works along with looking to God), I often find that difficult because we are all typically of different Christian denominations. However, in general, “Leading Little Ones to God” may be about right for your child’s age (pre read as I had to change some of it), and the five minute animal devotions type books as well as picture books of holy men and women as I mention in the monthly series I write about Anchor Points. But active faith, life within the cycle of the church year, praying, creating stillness and silence I think are even more important foundations of faith for that age.
      Hope that helps,
      Carrie

    • Thank you Carrie! I need to sit down and create my anchor points containing festivals and saints, and let the rest flow from there. I also truly value your thoughts on stillness, praying, the liturgical year, and modeling mercy. “Leading Little Ones to God”…by Marian M. Schoolland? When you write your post, I would be curious the type of things you omit when you are reading or re telling to your children as you mentioned you have done, as this seems to stump me. Also I did a quick amazon search for animal devotions. Found The Big Book of Animal Devotions: 250 Daily Readings About God’s Amazing by William L. Coleman (looks like the new version of books published for small children in 70s) and Five-Minute Devotions for Children: Celebration God’s World as a Family by Pamela Kennedy. Do you have any experience with either of these? I have read some of your previous posts from 2009, and wanted to look back for a post you mentioned a Psalm devotion book that I believe you and your family have used. Thanks again for taking your time to shed some of your wisdom.
      Celeste

    • Hi Celeste,
      I think it was the Kennedy book I was thinking of, not the Coleman one. But the Five minute one I was thinking of had animals, so I will have to go look on Amazon and see if it was the one I was thinking of….And yes, the Leading Little Ones to God by Schoolland. Not totally satisfying, but I have not found better as far as devotions. Which is often why I end up focusing on saint days and the liturgical year. LOL.
      Blessings and hugs,
      Carrie

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