When Homeschooling Is Hard

I still love Waldorf homeschooling; it is the method that speaks to me as a lover of stories and literature and history; it speaks to me as an artist; it speaks to me as a physical therapist; it speaks to me as a spiritual person (which is different than being religious, and I add a lot, a lot, a lot of theology in as well!); it speaks to my love of nature and how to approach science….

But, most of all, it speaks to me from a place of love and compassion for children and for what will help them.  That, to me, is the bottom line.

I don’t have to agree with all of Steiner’s philosophies in life, but the nuts and the bolts and the practicalities of education I like and I  have worked with to teach reading, writing, math, handwriting, handwork and other subjects.  This method stresses observation, love and respect for the child, and developmental timing.

If you are getting bogged down, may I humbly suggest to just remember homeschooling is different than a Waldorf school.  Do keep it simple. You don’t have to draw a chalkboard drawing the night before; draw with your child.  Maybe your homeschool is stronger in gardening than playing the pentatonic flute.  Maybe you go to the park instead of having a circle time.

It is okay to be different than a school, in fact, it is going to be different.  That is the beauty of homeschooling over any school, including a Waldorf school.  The most important part of this is to be together, to love each other, to give your children a sense of the beauty and awe and interconnectedness of this world the Creator gave us, to respect that time and space that children need to unfold,  to be able to really “get” the development of your individual child and the development of your family, to show your children the beauty of community.

Years later, I am still grateful I found Waldorf Education.  In an educational land gone crazy with fact shoving, testing, memorizing, teaching to the test, and dedicated and wonderful teachers who now cannot teach the way they truly want to, I am grateful I can home educate.

On the days when it is hard, on the days when I question why this insanity and chaos, on the days when I want to throw in the towel, I see my daughters “get” something, I see the children playing all together and laughing, we see the beauty of a bird or flower or chipmunk and breathe in the fresh air, and I remember.

This is why I am doing this. For love.

And love to you today, and many blessings,

Carrie

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17 thoughts on “When Homeschooling Is Hard

  1. I’m not a homeschooling mom, but I do have a son who started JK this September. When he was very little, thoughts of homeschooling started percolating here at home and I was very drawn to Waldorf education too. However, these ideas slowly evaporated when it became very clear that (i) I wouldn’t have any more children and (ii) that homeschooling one child might be a very lonely experience for my son. He seems happy at school, likes his teacher a lot, and enjoys the contact with his classmates. For the time being, this works for him, but of course this isn’t guaranteed for the rest of his elementary school life. One question I do have for you relates to homeschooling an only child – How can it work? How can one make it work?

    • Ana,
      Many people homeschool their only children. I think the key is to find a supportive community and to build close friendships so when they get older (ie, 5th grade ish time) they will have plenty of outlets…when they are younger this is not as much of an issue. There is a post on here about parenting and homeschooling the only child, please do throw only child into the search engine box on this blog and see what will come up..

      Many blessings in your journey,
      Carrie

  2. If we truly seek to foster the growth of the whole child, I hope we are guided by the principles you’ve so clearly expressed:

    “The most important part of this is to be together, to love each other, to give your children a sense of the beauty and awe and interconnectedness of this world the Creator gave us, to respect that time and space that children need to unfold, to be able to really “get” the development of your individual child and the development of your family, to show your children the beauty of community.”

  3. When I get too bogged down with details and activities, I repeat to myself the mantra ‘Love, Peace, Joy’ because for me these are the most important experiences and attitudes I can give to my son, rather than focusing too much on activities, academics and attainments. It helps me refocus and remember my priorities and calm down.

    • Tania –
      YES! I think this is also really important as children get older, because it can be harder not to get caught up in testing, even with homeschooling, or thinking, well my fifth grader should definitely be doing more and really deadening the subjects by not enlivening them through the arts and such..
      Yes, yes, yes,
      Many blessings,
      Carrie

  4. AMEN! Thanks so much for this great post, Carrie! So, so important to remember… because so many will throw away the baby with the bath water (or not even give homeschooling a chance) since they feel they cannot replicate the Waldorf school at home. But this is not the goal!! We chose this first and foremost to be with our family, to be together and to love each other…

  5. Thank you so much Carrie! Your posts continue to be so timely and needed. I waiver between trying to follow the Waldorf rules, and exactly what you spoke about. The days that are the most harmonious are when I throw the rules out the window and just let the day lead us. How nice it is to be reminded to let it be.

  6. Thanks for this post Carrie! As a very ecumenical and open minded Catholic I really appreciate your take on Waldorf and emphasis on spirituality and inclusion of theology! While we have our child in a Waldorf-inspired preschool 3 half days a week they may be a little light on some of the things I like about your take on Waldorf. Your posts help us to strive towards a Waldorf inspired home with a bit of a homeschooling spirit, same goals as you stated in your post. :D 
    Question: not sure if you’ve seen the Jesse Tree advent activity that Ann Voskamp at a Holy Experience gives away but if so what age do you think that would be appropriate for. My child is age 3.

  7. I have been struggling with this soooo much this year (as you may remember!) I’ve been really trying to ask myself “What is most important here? What is the end goal?” And yes, it’s those moments together that matter most. It’s the relationship. So even as I’ve made some decisions about letting go of some of the “trappings” of Waldorf education, I’m praying that I can continue to keep the spirit behind them. What speaks most to my heart in Waldorf education is that sense of wonder, respect for the child, and the love that grows from spending time together, telling stories, creating. It’s hard not to second guess yourself when it seems like everyone else is able to make it work! I’ll keep this in mind as I seek to find my joy in homeschooling again.

    I think you’re wonderful, and thank you for all you do here, Carrie. You’re truly a blessing and an encouragement!

  8. thanks for the encouragement; this hit the nail on the head where so many of us are learning the “waldorf way”….keeping that simplicity and fighting my academic training is a constant struggle for me inside….I want to be free of it; thankfully my girls are little and I have many years to undo the “structure” ingrained in me….our nature table gets scattered all over the house…. the flowers get “picked” off the plants in the garden ….dad’s irregular work schedule throws off our rhythm inevitably….some weeks we do art every day and other weeks we read, read read….some weeks we cook and others we sew and make giant spider webs with yard all over the house (my two year old is INTO spiders right now)….I seem to function in week intervals right now with a two and a half and a one year old. Sometimes we spent the week singing and dancing and “playing” the violin and all the other odd assortment of instruments in our house. It FEELS like CHAOS….but I have a happy, expressive, communicative two year old with a beautiful spirit.

    We don’t mix much with other kids because most that I know are chaotic and have negative spirits. So my 2.5 yr old and I attended her first wedding today. She blurted when the music stopped after the bridal procession, “WHERE’S THE MUSIC???” people smiled…..then when the flower girls strewed blossoms everywhere, she about lurched out of her seat exclaiming, “IT’S A MESS, MAMA!” that brought more chuckles. Again, when a baby boy cried in the audience, she craned her neck to see him and said very distinctly with worry, “mama, the baby Moses is crying…he wants booboos (to nurse).” Some grins there from the brides family as it was a grandson. Then to top it all off, she exclaims when the bride came out, “OH MAMA!!!!! It’s a FAIRY PRINCESS!!!!!!” I saw people looking at her and suddenly blinking and wiping their eyes….good thing it was a tiny wedding. She told me afterwards she liked when we clapped for the princess (after they pronounced them man and wife.) :)

    Yes, sometimes it feels wrong, against the flow….hard and we get “weary in well doing.” I was told once by a wise mother that there is a difference between homeschooling and home education. The latter is what we are striving to achieve and there is no formula for that or cookie cutter pattern to follow. And I learned something about my girl today; that her preschool life at home is not chaotic….she has learned to love beauty, music, order, and babies…and she cares about people and others already at the age of 2.5 years. God said to my heart, “you are crafting her soul well, my dear.” I cried at my first wedding today….because of MY PRINCESS.

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