This question from the field came in today, and I wanted to share it here:
Do you yourself follow a 3-day rhythm for homeschool? I like the 3-day rhythm (we do a 4-day school week) but it seems all of the major waldorf homeschool curricula follow a 2, 2-day rhythm. I feel like a 3-day rhythm would give us more time to work with a story but worry we wouldn’t fit enough in in a year (this is my first year homeschooling). In first grade, would you just introduce one letter or number per week (with a 3-day rhythm) or would you cover more than that?
Waldorf Education is the only educational method that really uses sleep as an educational and learning ally. There is much talk about what sort of rhythm one employs to this, and we frequently see references in different books and blogs regarding whether one should utilize a two or three day rhythm. I wrote a bit about using a three day rhythm in this back post: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/11/10/waldorf-101-main-lesson-books-block-teaching-and-the-three-day-rhythm/
I can say at this point in our years of homeschooling I have used both a two and a three day rhythm for teaching at different points, depending upon what block it is and where my child is. I find with younger children in the first two grades, a three day rhythm often worked better for us but now I use a two day rhythm (mostly). Melisa Nielsen has a solid post here talking about the flexibility we need in teaching: http://waldorfjourney.typepad.com/a_journey_through_waldorf/2011/07/dogma-or-tradition-or-steiner.html
The key, to me, is to always, always observe your child. Homeschooling is more intense than a school setting, and sometimes a two day rhythm works really well for this setting. If concepts are difficult or there are many angles one is working on in conjunction with one story or one concept, then a three day rhythm may also work out well. I think in preparing as a homeschooling teacher we have to be ready to read the child, and see what they are doing with the material and what they are bringing to us and be ready to adjust as we go along.
As far as using a three day rhythm and the feasibility of moving through the introduction to the letters in first grade – you will get through all the letters in one year, but there may need to be weeks where you do two letters a week and do a rather overlapping three day rhythm as I mentioned in the very first link. However, also please do remember that the same story can be used to introduce multiple letters and also that in a school setting sometimes not all of the letters are formally introduced separately. For example, some teachers introduce “U” as the helper to the “Q”, or XYZ together or that sort of thing. I advise sitting down and really planning how you want to bring this to your child, and make it your own.
Veteran Waldorf homeschooler Lauri Bolland wrote a great post about the three day rhythm, the controversy surrounding this, and other interesting observations from her experience here: http://wishwondersurprise.blogspot.com/2011/03/three-day-rhythm.html
I hope that helps; would love to hear the experiences of my many wise readers!