What Does Waldorf Look Like In Your Home?

If there is ONE thing I wish I could tell mothers about Waldorf Education in the Home, especially for those mothers whose OLDEST child is under the age of 9, is to keep it simple!  Mothers really, really overwhelm themselves much of the time.  I have been speaking with four separate mothers recently who feel completely overwhelmed even with a prepared curriculum that they bought!

You really don’t have to be an expert in every single thing to start with!

If your oldest child is under 9 and you have multiple children, please do relax.  And maybe here is where the intersection of Waldorf and Unschooling appears a bit more….I think it is okay if your children are playing well and you don’t stop them and gather them for school right away.  I think it is okay to take days on end and cook and bake for Christmas.  I think it is okay if your children spend hours playing in the woods.  If you have multiple children under the age of 9, hey have energy to burn and need the doing. Yes, they need rhythm as balance, but there is also an energy to the cycles of the year that comes out as well.  As they grow older though, hopefully you (and they) will buckle down and get to work,  There is something about cultivating perseverance in our children that is especially important in our “instant happiness and success without any work” society.

Use your younger ones’ nap periods to do the more formal stuff.  When it gets really crazy with the younger ones, take everyone outside and school outside.  Cut back at times when you need to and don’t worry about doing much more than the Gathering Time (be it a Circle Time, Verses and a poem to memorize, active and mental math) and your Main Lesson.  Yes, you can paint and cook and bake as part of your Main Lesson as the “doing” part in this holistic educational art, but if you are trying to bring this as a separate Middle Lesson and it is all  making  yourself feel crazy, why  not let it rest for awhile?  Bring some handwork in during the afternoons, and get outside.

So before you decide you can’t do Waldorf because you are overwhelmed by it (because in the beginning you want to do it all and do it all right and perfectly), please consider this:  you are going to teach Language Arts, Math, Science, Social Studies anyway, so why not bring it through the most “economical” way – Waldorf Education?  Why not bring it in through art, music, movement?  It is wonderful.  That being said though, if there is a season where you need to use something else because you are on bedrest or everything is literally falling apart and you are just hanging on by your fingernails, perhaps consider that you can come back to Waldorf in six months or so, and add in as many things as possible to include holistically educating your whole child in the meanwhile!

You too, decide this relationship: how much Waldorf?  A toe in, all in, up to your middle in the Waldorf Pool?  To me, if I have to teach, then I am going to teach this way because it makes the most sense to me.  Waldorf Education and parenting addresses the whole child throughout all the stages of development. 

People do many different things in conjunction with Waldorf, Waldorf homeschooling looks different in different  homes.  But, as Waldorf homeschoolers, we all share a respect for the protection that childhood deserves, a respect for educating holistically, a respect for teaching through art and movement and music, a respect for nature and our place here and in the Cosmos and a respect for the cycles of life in macro and microcosm. 

I love to read Waldorf blogs by homeschooling parents.  They really put the most beautiful things on their blogs, their lives look so beautiful (and please know most bloggers do put the most hopeful and wonderful things on their blogs!  These mothers are absolutely wonderful, but  really are not completely perfect, so please don’t compare and get depressed about it all!   That is easy to do!  And then you start thinking, wow, if I can’t bring my family THAT then I am not going to do it at all!)

If you are starting out,please  don’t think all that will happen when you have four kids under the age of 6!  It might, but if it doesn’t, that is okay. Your homeschool will look much more refined when your YOUNGEST is over 7 ( or when your older ones are really, really helpful with the little ones! LOL!)

The most important thing in homeschooling is the joy of the family, the development of the WHOLE three fold and fourfold person.  Being together, being outside, being warm with each other.    Your beautiful homeschool really is beautiful and may gain some additional structure as the years go by, but the basic joy of family living is always there.

Take  Joy in What You Have,  Baby Steps,

Carrie

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11 thoughts on “What Does Waldorf Look Like In Your Home?

  1. Thank you for this post! My oldest (currently only) child is 2.5 years old, and even though I am not trying to school her at all, just keeping a rhythm sometimes drives me to distraction. I really neede to read this, and I know I will reread it often. We have a weekly rhythm, for the most part, and we have certain touchpoints during the day, but I still do not have the flow that I would like, and sometimes that is due to my child’s reactions to my efforts. I have been immersing myself in reading when she’s in bed (really, I need another 20 hours in each day for reading alone) and trying to mediatate on all of these bits of wisdom and integrate them. Right now, I just tell and read seasonal stories, sing seasonal songs, and we do things to celebrate the holidays. We make bread, make soup, paint, use playdough, color, etc. We also spend a lot of time outside, hiking, finding rocks, fairy houses, “wormies”, mushrooms, whatever. Yet, at the end of the day, I wonder if there is enough rhythm. I will just keep at it, try not to worry too much about it, and remind myself of this wonderful post. Thanks again!

  2. Dear Carrie,
    even if we italians don’t actually homeschool, I wish you were here to speak to parents like me who put so much empahsis on the family, being at home.
    Your words are warm.

    Thanks
    Federica

  3. I have been thinking a lot about this lately and feeling pretty overwhelmed. I have an 8 year old second grader and a 5 year old. We all come together for morning lesson and it used to be that my little one had his own work – puzzles, play dough, stringing beads. But recently he has been joining the lesson, drawing the lesson picture into his sketch book, he’s trying out copying letters and he has learned to write his name. He does not want the other work right now. The reality in our home is that there is no separation when I read a second grade story they both listen, when we do second grade work, my 5 year old is right there. It’s been this way since the very beginning. Whatever work or story we’ve been doing for my older son, my younger son is a part of it too. We share our day and I love that! But it sure feels like everything revolves around my older son. I feel guilty! We already include some things in our day that are geared more toward the younger, I guess maybe I should step that up. And I do get little moments in my day to cuddle or play a quick game with my little guy. It’s hard to keep it simple, especially when I think about the future! I visualize a Waldorf-one-room-homeschool-house where both boys get what they need and feel (obviously!) overwhelmed!

    • Apple, Be easy! I think your eight year old might be able to stand more movement, modeling, painting, etc as part of the main lesson perhaps? The writing and drawing and such comes in on the third day of that three day rhythm. Eight year olds still need a lot of time to play, cook, build, be outside – how long is the Main Lesson? And please, please don’t worry about the five year old and the writing. He will eventually wander off, and if not, you just keep doing the things that Age approriate for him to balance it all out. Plan a whole day a week just for Kindy stuff because your eight year old will benefit from that…Four days a week is plenty in second grade, it really is. The most wonderful part of homeschooling is being together! It is okay there is no separation, when it is the younger one’s turn, he will take it in at a totally different level than he is now! Hhhmm, I feel post coming on?

  4. Thanks Carrie! We actually do include a lot of movement and painting and crafting in our lessons. We start off with a circle in the living room with a candle, a little yoga, verses and singing, talking about the weather, the season, any upcoming stuff, my older guy gives us the date from his calendar. Then we head to the kitchen table. Lesson (including circle) lasts about an hour and a half, maybe less. And we only do school 4 days a week. Fridays we meet with our Waldorf co-op at a nature preserve. My boys spend most of their day just playing together. Our rhythm flows smoothly most days, although this is always a work in progress. I love the idea of making a kindy kind of day for us! Probably it has simply been my perspective that leaves me feeling overwhelmed. I guess most of all I have felt kind of held back from feeling like I am teaching them both – focusing more on my older guy verses just giving my little one something to keep him occupied. I guess it’s time to let that go!!!

  5. Thank you Carrie. I have been a silent follower of your blog for about 6 months now, and you truly inspire me to be the most gentle parent that I can be. I have 4 very young children 5, 3, 20 months and 9 months. I strive for perfection and I get frustrated when my day does not run as smoothly as I may have envisaged. You blog helps me to realise that my expectations are unrealistic and it is okay. I am not a failure if I just spend all afternoon playing shopkeeper with my kids!!! We are working on our rythm and some days I think ‘this is it were on a roll’ but everyday brings a new challenge and you never know exactly when a little one may need some extra mummy time or a song or some extra cuddles. We are a mainly stay at home family with once a week meeting up with like minded friends. I think that we need some more outside time as my 3yr old boy is very energetic. Your words allow me to relax within in my journey and help me to remember just how little they still all are. Many thanks x

  6. Great advice Carrie!
    I feel like there is never enough time in the day and it is because we spend so much time eating, fixing food and cleaning up. That is life with little ones (especially gluten-, diary- and egg-free little ones). So, I have realized this year that we will never complete all of our plans for the day, and that is just the way it is! I am always amazed to find the day coming to a close and think, “how did we not have any time to read today?” (Except for bedtime reading.) I always thought there would be more time in the day, were we homeschooling!

  7. thank you for the post Carrie. I’m in New Zealand since just recently and have 4 chrn 11,9,7&4. I would love to home school as my chrn have never been to a “normal” school but were taught in a community school cause we lived in a religious commune for 18yrs and left recently. it feels really heavy sometimes and I would love to hear a bit of your wisdom privately if you could email me privately.

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