I guess because I am wrapped up in Babyland, I forgot that this is the time of year our homeschooling group gets calls from parents who have just pulled their children from school over Christmas break and need information fast! I quickly remembered this, however, when I got calls from several parents at the end of last week.
Here are a few tips I have for this transition period from my experiences with families:
1. Plan some time for de-schooling. I had one mother come over to my house over the weekend so we could discuss a plan for her children and I advised her that starting with very simple things such as crafting, baking, cooking, being outside, even taking a few field trips for the children in the grades, would be a good start without jumping right into Main Lesson Books and such.
We have to not only deschool the children from the “worksheet” mentality that seems to so frequently pervade schools these days and show them that life at school is not life at home, but we have to deschool ourselves. We have to let go of our own ideas and preconceived notions from our own schooling experience. This takes time, and more time. I have heard some mothers tell me that it took at least a year to really feel comfortable in their own skin and home learning after taking their child out of school.
The most important piece of any homeschooling is spending time with your children in love. That’s the bottom line, and the rest will come. Learn to slow down and enjoy each other and some of the simpler things in life.
2. Look at your child’s age to determine what year of Waldorf school they should be in. Remember, a child should be 7 for most of Grade One, 8 for most of Grade Two, etc. Waldorf at home is different than Waldorf at school, and in my experience these are the ages that work best.
3. Hopefully you are familiar with the Waldorf curriculum if you are planning to school this way! If not, take time to familiarize yourself with the essential components of each grade, the three-day rhythm, and consider scheduling a consultation with one of the national Waldorf Consultants. I typically recommend Melisa Nielsen, Barbara Dewey and Donna Simmons. Find whose voice speaks to you, start there, and stick with their products if you need a curriculum to follow to start. Also be sure to check out Marsha Johnson’s free files at her Yahoo!Group www.waldorfhomeeducators.com’
4. See where your child is. I found the place where many public school children are lacking when they come to Waldorf homeschooling is form drawing and math. For example, a second grade math student in public school in my area is typically learning carrying and borrowing with addition and subtraction, but have never tackled division or multiplication or Roman Numerals and most of all, they have NEVER been taught math from whole to parts.
Parents always ask about well, with my second or third grader should I go back and do Main Lesson Blocks on the things we missed, such as fairy tales from the first grade or stories of saints and heroes from the second grade? You could tell those stories at bedtime or before quiet time, but don’t go backward with school. The only exception I would consider is a block to introduce all four math processes together and whole to parts. Meet the child with the food their soul needs for their grade.
5. Make a short list of what resources you will need right away. This may include essentials such as Main Lesson Books, beeswax crayons (block and stick), beeswax modeling material, a blowing instrument, knitting needles and yarn, wet on wet painting materials. Add in what curriculum books you will need right away – perhaps a form drawing book, and other products. At this point in the year though, consider your finances. You will want to order products for fall homeschooling around April so you have time to work with it over the summer (if you don’t write your own), so consider what you will need now and what you will need for fall and plan your budget accordingly.
6. Consider how your day will flow. Map it out, choose some verses for opening and closing, think about breaks and how you will incorporate movement and activity into your homeschool and main lessons. Think strongly about carving an hour or even hour and a half break in the middle of the day for your grades children where you eat lunch and have quiet time. Everyone needs the rest by the middle of the day, and the grades children can use this time to draw, rest, read, or knit.
7. Think about where you are in your inner work and how you want to progress with that. I recommend you start by reading some Steiner.
Melisa Nielsen had a good post that really broke things down for entering Waldorf at each grade and I encourage you to check it out:
Most of all, home is not school. Use your home to your advantage; hike during the week, enjoy the fact your Main Lesson can be completed in 90 minutes or so, work on things as a family such as gardening and cooking.
Homeschooling is a joy!