Planning For Your Waldorf Homeschooling Experience

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:  http://www.christopherushomeschool.org/resources-for-waldorf-homeschooling-and-conscious-parenting/networking-for-groups-and-individuals.html

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.

Many blessings,

Carrie

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12 thoughts on “Planning For Your Waldorf Homeschooling Experience

  1. I just ordered our curriculum from Melissa this morning. I did get the kindergarten “curriculum”, for my will-be-5 year old, to have something to look at and get ideas from. And my will-be-7 year old will be in first grade, after having a premature start (at home) for the first part of this year. I had originally planned on figuring out my own curriculum, but right now it seems overwhelming to do it all, so I’ll start out with some hand-holding and progress from there as I gain some confidence. It took a long time to figure out which curriculum to go with–I had been looking at Live Ed and Christopherus, but didn’t really feel comfortable with either one. I saw a reference to the Little Garden Flower which I had forgotten. That felt much better and after sleeping on it last night, ordered this morning. Whew. I’m really excited about the resources and videos, and looking forward to getting some planning done.

    Rhythm is _really_ hard for me, and I have been slack on that. It works out well when I do it, but I have a hard time believing that everything will fall into place until I get it going. So that is my goal for the rest of this year. I think that having a rhythm, with better authority and expectations and just better connection will help with some of the behavioral issues we’ve been having. That and warm enough weather to send them OUTSIDE! :)

  2. Ah, is it really that time already?! I feel like we just found our groove, ha ha. Well, next year will be a full one- I will have a fourth grader, a second grader, a 6 year old kindergartener and a two year old. I have been using a mix of Donna’s curriculum and Marsha Johnsons as well. I plan to continue down that path as it works for me and my family.

  3. Thanks, Carrie, for this post. Everything you wrote felt like it was for me, ause that is where i am sitting right now: on the curricula bench!

    Try but cant decide! For ds, 6, i was planning on doing just nothing structured at all and let him deschool. For my 3rd grader, i have been going back and forth with Christopherus or perhaps waiting for the revised and improved LGF. But i still look from afar to Enki, which im not sure how pure Waldorf it could be!

    I must use a very easy to comprehend/implement curricula where i can have access to lots of dvds and samples as i am predominantly visual and tactile learner myself. Also, im expecting baby #3 in 2 months and dont want have much time for preparation.

    I pray everyday for the strengh of making a decision, as I am firmly convinced that Waldorf is the only way i want my kids to be educated going forward. Im very afraid of making the wrong decision or worse, to gamble my kids education by choosing and then not been able to deliver. I would not know how to live with the consequences.

    • Amelia,
      Hugs and encouragement. I think that is a normal way to feel the first year of homeschooling after a public school experience especially. Hang in there, and relax into it all. You will find the right fit for your family.
      Blessings,
      Carrie

  4. I like to order my resources two years in advance (I know, weird!) so that I can fully absorb and internalize the information, as well as get a clear idea of what I’m laying the foundations for. I like to see the big picture! I feel like it really helps me to see what’s important day-to-day. Next year I’ll have a six year old kinder, a four year old, a two year old, and a baby. Right now I’m thinking about stories to bring forward next year as well as creating opportunities for more focused art experiences (watercolor, modeling). The rest will be primarily a continuation of what we’ve been doing (rhythm of our home life and rhythm of our liturgical year). I’m also reading up on first grade with the help of Donna (Christopherus) and Melisa, as well as Rhythms of Learning (what a great resource!).

    • Kyrie – Actually being able to look at the year you are doing and the following year is very advantageous! Sounds like you have a good plan for that six year old year, which sometimes can be a tricky one of wanting more but not being ready for formal academics…
      Blessings,
      Carrie

  5. Sounds like you are speaking directly to me! I have a Kindergartener, going to first grade next year and a toddler. I’m stressing about planning for next year. But, I have my curriculum- love Earthschooling, and I’m excited to fully plan next year. This year was rough with lots of moving around and my planning suffered. Our home school was fine, but more stressful than it needed to be without planning in place. Anyway, thanks for your thoughts and encouragement!

  6. Still working with 3.5 year old here…I’m guessing I don’t need a curriculum yet? Are there any sites for free curriculum? Does anyone have any leads on good inexpensive curriculum?

    …and one of the snags I’m running into – in paring down what we read at home and limiting (severely!) what comes home from the library, and my (haven’t mentioned it to husband yet) not planning to teach reading unless my oldest specifically asks for it consistently – how to handle family members who get cranky when they hear their grandson/nephew isn’t learning to read just like they did/their kids did? Granted they’re 400+ miles away…

    another thing we are hoping to do – and probably instead of curriculum – is get a wooden kitchen for the boy(s) to play with.

  7. Carrie,
    Found it – the links reversed themselves in the tabs, so what I thought was the book was the 2nd link to your post. Agh! Need sleep.
    Thanks,
    Michele

  8. we are moving back to the united states after living on an island in the caribbean for two years. my son is 4 and will be 5 after christmas. we are going to work on finding a good rhythm as we move 2 – maybe 3 times in the next 6 months for my husband’s schooling. i think that will be the most important aspect of his homeschool experience. .

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