Are you getting ready yet to start thinking about your next homeschooling year?
I know some of you out there may be getting ready to end the school year for your children in a public or private school setting and are thinking about starting to homeschool in the fall. This probably seems both exciting and overwhelming!
Some of you may be veteran homeschoolers with at least several years under your belt and are starting to plan for the fall by looking at curriculum or other resources you will need to plan over the summer.
Some of you may be transitioning from a “kindergarten” experience of lots of healthy rhythm and rich language development and mathematical foundations to the wonders of two and three day rhythms, main lesson books and formal academic work. You might be wondering where you will fit all your practical work, and what is going to happen to your toddler now that you will be having more sit down time in main lessons.
Some of you may be thinking about bringing “more” in for that six year old who is kindergarten for the last year.
Wherever you are, let’s jump in together.
My challenge to you is to get your resources ordered by the end of this month so you can start planning.
Mothers ask all the time about this or that curriculum, what curriculum is out there that is true to Waldorf but at the same time understands the homeschooling family. It is of course preferable that you create your own curriculum but I have certainly spoken with so many mothers who are new to homeschooling, new to Waldorf Education, perhaps in a challenging time in their family life, and really need a curriculum to help them lay it all out. So, here is my list of questions to help you evaluate what you are looking at in terms of products:
I ask you to read the following paragraphs and see if it resonates with you as criteria to evaluate a pre-written curriculum:
- Does the author(s) have a strong understanding of the seven year cycles, of the three and four fold human being? For me to use someone else’s curriculum, personally, I would need to know that the author(s) have studied Steiner, that they understand it on some level, and are true to the seven year cycles in their curriculum and that they take into account the developmental arc of the human being from that holistic standpoint.
- What is the authors’ background? Have they homeschooled their own children at all? Do they understand the dynamics of homeschooling, that things are more intense, that you and the dog and a four year old don’t make a Circle Time, that home has certain advantages that really should play into the curriculum that is different than Waldorf School? Have they ever taught other children or been in situations where they have worked with other children? After all, not every child and family is like your own! Do they have an understanding of the academic and artistic pieces of each grade? That is important in order to educate for academic success!
- Do they have knowledge of the twelve senses and the importance of the protection/development of the twelve senses throughout these seven year cycles? How is movement incorporated into their curriculum?
- The other area that is a bug –a- boo for me is to ask whether the authors are advocating academics within the first seven year cycle? Are they talking about Main Lesson Books for the Early Years and blocks and such? Are they talking about being able to tell a child’s temperament within the first seven year cycle? To me none of that fits, so even if you are looking at grades materials, go back and look at what they propose for the Early Years. This will give you a good barometer as to how true to Steiner the curriculum is!
- If you are an Early Years mother and you are contemplating buying curriculum, please do go through this blog and look at the resources I recommend. There are many posts and reviews on here. Work on yourself, your rhythm for your family, the tone of your home. Look at what you might want to bring in when . Create some of these things, and then worry about “curriculum”!
- Lastly, what are the practicalities of using this curriculum? Is it truly open and go, or do you need to do work to put it together? (And both answers are okay, it depends what you are looking for!!) What additional resources do you need? Do you know how you will open school – do you have verses or songs, a longer poem each month for your grades children to memorize and recite? Does the curriculum show how to incorporate the form drawing, knitting, crafts, cooking, gardening, movement, music or what other resources do you need to get?
- Or does all that overwhelm you, you are new to Waldorf, and you feel you just need the main lesson ideas? Starting with “just” a main lesson might be all you feel you can handle, and some families do ease into Waldorf Education this way in the homeschool environment. Again, you must know what you are looking for.
- Does the curriculum provide samples of what a third grader might write, examples of math problems, etc? Does it give you ideas for the Main Lesson from an artistic standpoint beyond drawing and summarizing?Not every lesson has to have a spot in the Main Lesson Book –for some things our family has made diaromas or modeled something or painted something or any number of other artistic endeavors– those things don’t fit in a Main Lesson Book! Remember, art is the vehicle through which the lesson is taught! The art is NOT separate! Otherwise the curriculum becomes dry!
If you can ask yourself these questions of the curriculum and be satisfied, then you will have most likely found the right curriculum for you! There are many products on the market, and we must be careful to know what we are buying. Nature-based doesn’t mean true to Steiner, and if nature-based is what you are looking for, that is fine, but don’t confuse that with Waldorf Education!
Spend your money wisely; if there are Waldorf homeschoolers in your area please see if any of them have the resources you are considering purchasing so you can look at it and get a feel for it before you buy it for yourself. If you are looking for Waldorf homeschoolers in your country or state, please try this link:
Once you decide, trust your intuition and just do it! Stop agonizing! You must get what you are using, and sit down with it, and READ it from cover to cover so you know what you need to do, what you might need to add, how you need to plan.
I would love to hear how your planning is coming along and what grades you and your family will be working on in the fall.