The Rant: The Difference Between School and Homeschool

This is the time of year when I feel I must make an annual plea for the homeschooling family:  your family homeschool is not a Waldorf School.  There are extreme differences, and if you are trying to replicate a Waldorf School, or any kind of institutionalized schooling in your homeschool, please let it go!

I see many parents trying to recreate the Waldorf School in their homes; I think this comes up so frequently because the curriculum is so philosophically driven; each grade is geared toward the level of soul development of that child with the subjects geared toward the development of that age.  The subjects are presented by the teacher through the vehicles of art and movement in a rhythm that utilizes sleep as an aid to learning.

So, this must mean I have to turn myself into a Waldorf teacher at home, right?  Wrong!

First of all, the homeschool environment is looser, and in many ways, richer than the curriculum at a school.  You can choose things based upon your child’s interest and really tailor it within those subjects in the curriculum.  In the early grades of first through fifth,  I don’t always directly ask what my child wants to learn but in homeschooled children it is usually pretty ready and apparent what they are interested in, what their passion of the moment is,  and I do try to work that in. You can tailor the fourth grade zoology block to what animals your children are really interested in; you can add science blocks. There are a million possibilities for nature stories that highlight different natural cycles or animals in second grade, for example.  Go off on rabbit trails if you want to, and come back.

Many of the subjects could span grades or be brought in at different times; for example the curriculum of fairy tales and folk tales and tall tales and nature stories can span grades one through four at varying points; the zoology block of man and animal typically found in fourth grade could also be started in third grade with a block on domesticated farm animals as in conjunction with the third grade farming part of the curriculum. Many parents have told me their children were not fully interested in “The Age of Revolution” until ninth grade, not eight.  Renaissance studies could span both seventh and eighth grades…there really is some latitude. Look at your child!  Are they through the nine year change yet? The twelve year change yet?  Your child will show you in so many ways what to do with their homeschooling within the context of Rudolf Steiner’s ideas about education if you just look at the child!

For the very practical side of “scheduling homeschooling” with your children, I find that if your child has an interest such as sports or dance, around fourth grade you may be in the position to start working your rhythm around that.   I found that my oldest, who is into rhythmic gymnastics and lives for it, has competition season in the Spring, so next year I will plan to power through a little  more in the fall so we can take some time to just live in the Spring, for example.  By fifth grade, children are pretty ready to help you plan a rhythm for the practicalities of each day.  What day will they do their homework for that outside Spanish class?  Will they do their main lesson before the other children or after?   By sixth grade and up, if not before, they are going to  have definite opinions about more than the practicalities of homeschooling but what things they will be studying  and why – talk to them and see how you can work those things into the curriculum! ( I have found, very honestly, that by the time my children expresses an interest in studying something, at least in the early grades, it is Spring and that subject will be covered in the Fall.  Amazing how that works out! )   High school can really be tailored toward their goals.  Partnership is really important, and you can really work their interests around the major questions that the Waldorf curriculum poses for each grade of high school (see any Waldorf High School website’s curriculum outline for these years for more information).

You can base things around the family and what the family’s interests are as well, and also around where you live.  I attended a talk about homeschooling high school by a terrific  mother the other day, and they lived about two miles from our State Capital Building.  They used the building and got involved with homeschooling legislature and saw first hand their representatives at work and how bills are made into laws.  It is entirely appropriate to take your older children (and yes, the younger ones would tag along!) on  what you are involved in, whether that be legislation, working on a CSA, helping mothers breastfeed, helping that elderly neighbor, or whatever comes up.  Learning doesn’t only take place in a main lesson book!  We are homeschoolers!  Life is the lesson, college is a high point, but learning to be able to function in life in all areas is part and parcel of homeschooling!

As a homeschooler, schedule in field trips and trips to the beach or the mountains.  That is partly why must people can homeschool, so they can have a life! Leave your house and explore your community.  There are many wonderful field trips to be had through the natural world through all the grades, fourth graders are getting into local geography and maybe even geography of their country, fifth graders enjoy museum exhibits tying into Ancient Civilizations.  Go and do!  That is better than any main lesson book!

Always make time to get ready for festivals, whether you have a first grader or a sixth grader.  Your middle school-aged child may grumble, but they will remember this when they are older and most likely look back at it fondly.  Carry on with tradition, breathe life into it as your child has ideas, but carry on!

And just like a classroom teacher, use your strengths to teach your children and don’t feel guilty if you cannot do it all. Whatever you do well, just do it. I was never the biggest puppet maker for kindergarten and first grade.  I LOVE puppets, but never had a lot of time to make them because my emphasis in all my afternoon free time with the children was on movement – getting them to swim, ride a bike, hiking in the woods or at the lake. No time to sit and make puppets in the afternoon, and at night I usually had a sleeping baby or just such short spurts of time it was hard to get ahold of it.  No time at night.  And then with the puppets I did needle felt inevitably my dog would get ahold of them and eat them!  Now, with my middle child going into second grade, I feel like I have the chance to make some puppets and even though she is older, we are having puppets for her and for our toddler…and now  I have an older helper in my soon to be fifth grader who loves handwork! So, some things come in time because we have life and not a school building where we stay after school to make things and we don’t have any other teachers to borrow things from!  In our homeschooling group, we are thinking of starting a puppet library to rotate the props mothers have made, and that will help the mothers of kindergarten and early years.  Wouldn’t that be wonderful?  To have things to pass on?  But I digress…my main point of all that rambling is that I personally do movement, community, music and singing, baking and cooking, cleaning, gardening really well..and I use my strengths, try to balance the rest of it and carry on!  You can too!

Let go of your guilt.   You are doing a great job!  You don’t memorize well?  Kindergarten stories with props should actually be relatively easy to memorize, but I think the problem there is with all our small children, our life forces are being stressed and stretched.  Get a pretty notebook and write the story in it.  For the older grades, there are many more stories and they are long and involve history – I don’t know mothers memorizing these stories and bringing them in that way at home.  There is more reading together involved than would be at a  Waldorf school.  That is okay; this is home.

Which brings me to my next point:  if you want to see something happen in your area regarding Waldorf homeschooling, you may have to take the bull by the horns and make it happen. Start that group.  Get together with mothers of older homeschoolers, even if they homeschool a different way, and listen to their wisdom and tailor it for your family and your time.  And you simply MUST get involved in what is going on in your state with the bigger picture of homeschooling; you must protect your right to homeschool in this way of  homeschooling in a manner that doesn’t match up the “standard homeschooling grade subjects”.  Homeschooling should not be public school in a box at home!  If I wanted that, I could send my children to public school!  Homeschooling should have freedom and form, more form as your children are small, and more freedom the older they become.

You are not in a school:  public, Waldorf, or otherwise!  Love what you do, find the joy!  If your lessons are stale and everyone hates it, may I humbly suggest it is not the Waldorf curriculum but perhaps the way you are bringing it?  (I know, I am sorry!  You are probably ready to kick your computer screen now!) I find the number one problem most mothers have in bringing in the curriculum is it starts falling into this day one: review and present material,  day one or day two:  draw picture, day three: write.   Where is the movement, the baking and cooking, the singing, the modeling, the painting, the NO main lesson book for this particular block but lots of oral recitation or making a big project that is different, like drawing a mural?  Don’t get so stuck in a rut!  And stop trying to bring it perfectly the way a Waldorf teacher would, you are home! Snuggle up on the sofa and read! Walk outside!  Take breaks every fifteen minutes and stand up and sing.  Set a timer so your desk work is limited and get up!  Loosen up.

Love to you all,

Carrie

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22 thoughts on “The Rant: The Difference Between School and Homeschool

  1. Carrie, thank you so much for this post. You spoke to my heart. I have 5 children ages 1,3,5,7,9 and I have been feeling guilty for not doing more school for my oldest two children. Our rhythm really needs to be re-worked to honor the need for movement of my youngest three (who happen to be all boys). I was just thinking to myself today “home is not school.” Now I need to spend some time thinking about what is most important to us as a family and build our rhythm and homeschooling around that. We will be doing second, third, and kindergarten next year. Any advice for how to combine these would be greatly appreciated. I want our homeschooling to bring our family together not segment us but still have space for each child to have time with me throughout the day. Thanks again for your rant:) I needed to hear it.

    • Angela,
      Yes, so many things you could do together with the two older children and also for the needs of the whole family. Second and third could be matched in terms of stories for math with differing academic levels (Marsha Johnson’s WaterWays of the World for math in her files section of her yahoo group comes to mind), fairy tales or fables (both could do, for example, a block on King Arthur or a block on Russian or Chinese Fairy Tales), nature stories with farming and gardening for your third grader, Old Testament for your third grader could go with Saints for your second grader – whether these be Jewish or Christian saints. And, yes, things like form drawing, foreign language, music – the older two could work together.
      Any sort of movement could involved all, and a circle time and story geared to the younger children, perhaps with the older children helping or leading, could be a great way to start the day. Practical work is a huge part of third grade, and your third grader could also have the lead in helping the younger children with any chores, cleaning, cooking, baking, gardening.
      Field trips are also an all-family event. For third grade, it would especially wonderful to go and see workers in action – blacksmiths, bakers, tailors, farmers, and to go visit farms, berry picking, harvesting, canning, pickling.
      :)
      I think actually it could be fairly easy to combine these two grades in a satisfactory way and still have time for the younger children. :)
      Blessings,
      Carrie

    • Carrie, thank you for taking the time to respond to my questions. You’ve given me lots to think about. Blessings to you and your family.

  2. Wow, Carrie, I don’t know if I’ve ever heard you rant before. You should do it more often ; ). The beginning of this week saw my boys really low energy after camping over the weekend. So we took Monday “off”. Tuesday I could tell something was brewing and that they were coming down with something. So I mentally cleared the week. I cleaned out the bookshelves. We read Rascal by Sterling North (which I cannot recommend more for 4th grade!! so, so good!!) and just had an “off” week. It was either on Tuesday or Wednesday as my husband was leaving for work, he said to me, “You know, just push through, hit the books today.” And with the comfort that 20 years of marriage affords, I politely told him that he should run his business and let me run mine. We had a great week (although the coughing is about to drive me INSANE). A long comment to say, YES. YES. YES.
    Love to you.
    Sheila

    • Haha, Sheila, your post made me laugh. I also had a few incidences like this one with my hubby….. does it really take 20 or more years to say things like this to our other half’s (naturally in a polite kind of way)?
      Maggie

    • I might be a slow learner! I guess it has taken me this long to have the confidence not to take the comment personally.

  3. Carrie your RANT has come as a gift to me as though from the angels of the night, I have just woken up and read your post……..Thank you so very much…..I homeschool 8 children in grades 2 3 4 and 5, we are like a mini school in my home……but it is a huge challenge to bring to those children their curriculums as they would be given in school, well of course it’s just not possible, I struggle often with this especially as the children get older and their grades become more and more intense. I am always wondering how can I go on. Last week one of the families confirmed they will leave soon, maybe sooner than I had thought, so less children but still 4 grades and less income to pay for the help I so need…….After the end of the week on Thursday I thought….”I have to reinvent the wheel here” . Your post has confirmed that for me and is showing me the beginning of the way forward…. I know that I have to move away from our path of the last 5 years of giving each child as much as possible of their main lesson from their own grade, of being a miniature school……we have to embrace ourselves as Waldorf homeschoolers in every sense of the word as you have so beautifully described in your post. I have to find more and more ways to bring to them the essence of what Steiner intended but in a way that is not exclusive to each child or grade, but is collaborative. I know already that my best days are the ones where my teaching goes with the flow of the children, where they play for an hour in the sand pit and garden before they come to into the classroom, when we sing for half an hour before we start main lesson…… where we spend a whole morning knitting or clearing out the cupboards, or we read and read and read story after story because as the lady above says the children have all been camping for the weekend and are all half asleep, after all isn’t that why we are doing what we are doing ? So our children can be nurtured…….
    Today is my Mummy day as my little girl is with her Daddy, this is going to be my meditation for the day, Thank you so much Carrie
    Love Melodie

  4. If you have more than three children this happens naturally, I mean that subjects get pushed to a different grade or taught very differently from how a Waldorf school would teach it. I have noticed that first-hand. With my oldest everything was more or less like in a Waldorf school, but by the time child number five arrived we were on a different schedule and have stayed there. I still like the priciples of the Waldorf school, but I do think there is lots of room for making it your very own. I always thought that the history descriptions about what you do in grades 9-12 in a Waldorf school were very vague (even the ones form Stockmeyer) and have now taken the liberty to distribute history differently, i.e. pushing modern times to high school. After all, a traditional German school doesn’t start “high school” until grade 11. That gives you so much freedom. Steiner himself stressed that it was necessary that a Waldorf school should never forget to look at what the regular schools were doing and to make sure that Waldorf schools reach the same level of those schools. That sometimes means that you do things later and not earlier. Also, when he was alive, many subjects were less complex. These days, you need more time to study many things. Many of his schools also offered a grade 13 for students who wanted to go to college, a practice still used in many regular German schools.

    • I meant “from Stockmeyer” :).

      Oh Carrie, I think a lot about these things and I have been asking myself over the years, what it really means to be a Waldorf homeschooler or a Waldorf school. The Waldorf schools have changed from what they used to be like. Schools in general used to be pretty gloomy and dark institutions when Steiner was alive, so his approach was truly like a ray of light. Sometimes I wish I could take a look at what the first Waldorf schools were actually like.: That’s one reason why I still like to look at the Stockmeyer curriculum. But I do think that many Waldorf schools (at least in Germany) also have been influenced by the education theories of the 70s and have become less concerned with teaching facts and knowledge, but more with how the student feels. I think it’s very sad that subjects like Greek and Latin are not reallly offered at many American and also at quite a few German Waldorf schools anymore. They were part of the original schools. Steiner even suggested Latin could be started in grade 3 or 4. I also think that the artistic element can be carrried too far and that a child might be able to draw pretty pictures, but doesn’t really know anything in the end. Especially from grade 5 onward there should also be some facts that need to be learned. That’s why I like to look at the classical homeschooling movement and also Charlotte Mason. They can be very helpful here. I also think that as homeschooler you can take your child’s learning style, not just the temperament, into account. Some children need to read the information, others need to listen to new information, others mainly need to do! As a homeschooler you can also use DVDs, CDs, etc. when the children are older. These are still not so common in the higher grades in the Waldorf schools. (Although I just read an article in the German Waldorf school magazine “Erziehungskunst” that suggested to start students with the use of the computer in grades 6 or 7. This was written by a seasoned Waldorf school teacher!). I’m also in contact with a German veteran Waldorf teacher, who is retired now, but who still gives guest classes once in a while. He gives his students worksheets and also tests! I don’t want to sound like I’m just critizing Waldorf schools (after all, I’m still using Live Education! and really like it), but I do think we need to look beyond a very narrow definition of what a Waldorf school or curriculum is like — and that definition is always influenced by our times and our way of thinking. I also think that some students don’t develop in a linear way, but make big strides in one area, but only smaller ones in another. As a homeschooler you have the power to work with that and teach what seems to be good for your child! My son, who is 14 now, “should” be doing the human body, but he is not ready for it, he is still more child than teenager, no need to rush into a new stange so soon.

      We will be entering high school in the fall and that perspective really helps to orgnanize the younger grades better (at least for me). Now I finally understand what would be good to do or know in those first eight grades and what should be left for high school. It truly is a learning journey for both student and teacher and I bet my younger children will benefit from my collected experiences, but the older ones will have witnessed failures and struggles more.

      Anyway, I hope that this didn’t sound too negative or critical. I’m just trying to truly provide an enducation that leads to well-rounded children with a strong moral background. Waldorf education can be a big part of it, but I don’t want to be afraid of other approaches/thoughts to reach my goal. I think that my thoughts resonate with what you have written in your original post, if I understood it correctly. Let’s take a deep breath and get the love and joy back into our schooling methods and choices.

    • Eva YES, and I can tell we need to make this conversation into a blog post. :)

      But I do think that many Waldorf schools (at least in Germany) also have been influenced by the education theories of the 70s and have become less concerned with teaching facts and knowledge, but more with how the student feels. I think it’s very sad that subjects like Greek and Latin are not reallly offered at many American and also at quite a few German Waldorf schools anymore. They were part of the original schools. Steiner even suggested Latin could be started in grade 3 or 4. I also think that the artistic element can be carrried too far and that a child might be able to draw pretty pictures, but doesn’t really know anything in the end. Especially from grade 5 onward there should also be some facts that need to be learned.

      Yes – I have a big heart for Latin and Greek and if you go back and look at either Practical Advice to Teachers by Steiner or Discussion With Teachers, Steiner talks about Latin and Greek. Those students with a background with German will be able to tackle Latin more readily most likely than those without that. Yay for learning German in the earlier years and grades…I feel fortunate my children are having that experience!

      Also, I agree — if we do this right, there is a mix of movement, artistic elements and yes, ACADEMIC work. Waldorf education CAN and SHOULD be rigorous! If it is not, I don’t think that was Steiner’s original intent at all, to make this feeling only school – that does not fit in with his thoughts of balance and thinking, feeling and willing playing parts of the threefold human being. I honestly feel we can look originally to the intent of Steiner, not so much the Waldorf Schools for this inspiration. Like many things in life, sometimes I feel the schools have hijacked Waldorf Education and lost sight of some things. In my area of the country, many of the Waldorf Schools are going the other way – much testing in the early grades, etc to keep up with the competitive private schools and less emphasis I think on the original curriculum.

      In my area, and my homeschool group, family life guidelines state computers for reports are usually I believe seventh and eighth grade and onward…Tests and reports as well. I need to publish the family life guidelines my homeschool group just came up with…it is being reviewed by our membership soon…

      And I agree, you HAVE to understand high school and what can be deferred to high school. There is a saying in pediatric physical therapy that you cannot make good decisions for an infant who may have severe developmental disability until you treat adults and teenagers with developmental disabilities, and I think understanding this same function.

      I have not felt the need to look outside of Waldorf yet, but I hear what you are saying loud and clear and I think there needs to be more clear guidelines for parents new to this…Every family will find its path, but it does help to hear the experiences of others, especially those with high schoolers.I just went to a homeschooling high school talk and really need to publish my notes from that workshop.

      Love to you eva and thank you so much for sharing all your wisdom,
      Carrie

    • It is sad to think that the Waldorf schools have changed so much since I left school!
      We had Latin and Greek lessons offered and yes tests as well, on a regular basis from 7th or 8th grade onwards. Not as many as in public schools but still we had to do them, as well as study facts.
      I do believe that a lot of the stories and poems that I find in the online Waldorf community can be taken to extremes, as well as the ones I have seen in some schools. Do we really need stories to introduce the knitting needles or the paper that we use? Well, this might be a bit of an extreme example, but I think you know what I mean. I just get the feeling that some of these can be taken to such an extreme that the main subject gets lost with all the elaborate imaginary descriptions.
      I think it can be hard these days in Waldorf education, especially when one is new to it, to keep the balance between the two which makes it so necessary to read “original”/ older text’s on Waldorf education.
      Maggie

  5. I am blessed to live within a block of a public charter Waldorf K-8 WITH a home-study program. Talk about support potential! But today when I filled out an eval for the year, these are the points I focused on specifically. Needing to replicate school at home for the state auditors is such a drag, even though my Waldorf-trained ES was so gracious. I felt the pressure none-the-less even though I am in my ninth year of homeschooling (though first learning and embracing Waldorf) and tried to work from my strengths and my students (10 and 13). Thanks for outlining the conflict and encouraging us homeschooling moms to move forward to the best of our abilities despite the temptation to be superstars for in Waldorf and for the State.It was easy to feel defeated, as the majority of us, I’m guessing, are committed to high standards and are aware how we might fall short.

  6. I’m pretty sure I love you. This post speaks so much to my own philosophy, my own experience, my own life! We have always swung between Waldorf-inspired home-learning and life learning with a Waldorf lifestyle, and I admit that life learning feels more natural to us. Creating school at home, even an Enki or Waldorf school, has never worked for more than a few months at a time. Keeping Waldorf philosophy in mind and working with the child’s interests and inclinations works far better for us, especially as the children get older and want more input. I’ve gotten to the place where every time I try to bring content to my children they have already had a rather thorough introduction to it on their own, and I’ve finally stopped fighting it. Because really, my rock hound child doesn’t want to suffer through a 3 – 4 week block on rocks and minerals when he knows more about them than I do. I’ve changed my focus to teaching skills and providing opportunities to work the subjects that they have already explored on their own, such as taking the aforementioned rock hound to a fantastic gem display at the natural history museum, looking at my own collection of rocks (and gems via jewelry), etc. There is almost nothing in the Waldorf curriculum through grade 8 that my children haven’t already explored in-depth with the exception of the maths (they will be grades 7 and 8 this fall, so it isn’t too surprising), although one definitely has more history than the other, and less science. I finally realized that I have to stop trying to teach them things they already know and that rather I need to help them work with what they are exploring and to help them develop the necessary skills. I’m realizing too, that there is no way to teach them everything and that we are at a point where their natural abilities and inclinations have to take precedence.

  7. Great post Carrie! Great comments here too. I think this is a big balancing act sometimes. I went to a small conference a while back, it was for homeschooling and the entire time the teacher had a lot to say about the classroom, because in all of her years as a master teacher she was not accustomed to bringing Waldorf to homeschoolers. One of the reasons we started our Thinking Feeling Willing program was because of this notion or on going guilt that occurs. I have been doing this a long time and I can stand back and look at what I could have balanced here or there. I can see the fruits of my labor. My oldest will be in 10th grade this fall and while he may not always be using a Waldorf curriculum piece in what he is studying, it can always be brought to him in a Waldorf way. It takes time to learn what that way is and understanding the WHY behind it all is so important. As we have written our curriculum through the years, we have always taken the approach that to really understand homeschoolers… YOU HAVE TO BE ONE :) I couldn’t write about driving trucks if all I have ever driven are cars – sure they are both very much the same, but there are other variables with a truck that you don’t have with a car and until I have actually driven a truck, I can only assume what things are like and write from that perspective.

    Through our years of homeschooling (my oldest is 15 1/2) I have learned many things… probably one of the most important is that I don’t want to become a school. I like what I do. I love the experiences I can provide. I love that I am learning. I love that this year I am bringing archetypal movement to my children that I couldn’t do before with my lack of a mentor in that area. I love that I can in turn bring it to other families. I love that I have the opportunity to really see the wonder and beauty that being at home has brought to my older children. I feel so blessed.

    Again, great post!

  8. Ah Ha!!!!!!! There you are!!! I love it! I have been following your blog for so long, mostly commenting on the Sensory issues, because these I deal with myself as well. I also began my own blog to kinda be the kick in the rear that you are being today!!!!! You are an inspiration to me Carrie, and I thank you for always being there. I wouldn’t mind input on my blog if you have a second? In your “spare time” :-) http://www.breaktheparentingmold.com
    You Rock!
    Jen

  9. What a lovely and timely post. Briefly, I Waldorf home educate 4 children, ages (almost) 14 to 4. My combined lessons are the most unifying for the family. When my second child was in 4th grade, for example, we studied Native Americans. Each had a main lesson book with a copied map with different Native American structures drawn in corresponding geographical areas. For my 1st grader, this was his geography and literature, for my 4th grader, it included copywork about different tribes and myths plus a building unit, and for my 7th grader it was all of the above plus some history with additional reading. Each had a Native American unit, but delved into it according to ability and need. I even do some math units in this fashion.

    Like Eva, we are entering our freshman year and have taken both Charlotte Mason and classical education into account. My three oldest, to different extents, have had Greek and Latin roots, and my oldest is finishing his second year of Latin, completing algebra, and starting geometry. I fully agree with Eva that having an older child definitely helps to order the younger grades (especially with math).

    Time to get dinner on the table so the older two can attend choir practice.
    Thank you for the discussion.

  10. Thank you, Carrie, for your detailed reply! I thought I would clarify one point. You said that “you haven’t felt the need to look outside Waldorf yet.” With “looking outside Waldorf” I mean taking a look at what other homeschool approaches are doing when, for example, studying the Romans, the Middle Ages, etc. If you take Donna Simmons’ “Waldorf Curriculum Overview” you will find many books that are recommended within the classical and Charlotte Mason movement! In fact, I have found quite a similarity to what Laura Berquist (classical homeschooling) recommends. Especially if you do your own putting together of resources you will be surprised at what gems you can find elsewhere that are so helpful for Waldorf education, e.g. many nature stories Charlotte Mason homeschoolers use work so well with Waldorf, especially in the lower grades. Just taking a look at http://www.mainlesson.com will show you how true that is. Even if you don’t use those books with your children, they are excellent choices for educating yourself! Also, some subjects, like geography, art history, music history, are not well covered within Waldorf homeschooling circles. Charlotte Mason sources offer many great ideas about living descriptions of peoples all over the world while the classical movement helps you with climate zones, facts about the countries, etc. My newest edition of Tobias Richter’s “Steiner Waldorf Curriculum” (I only have the 2010 German edition) suggests stories about great composers in grade 4. Charlotte Mason homeschoolers are big fans of Opal Wheeler’s Great Musicians Series. Those are old books that have been republished and are wonderful to read (or tell) to your child. So looking outside can be very helpful and I bet you have done this yourself without being aware of it. I think as homeschoolers we should try to learn from each other and not become rigid in our approach. Otherwise we become like stones: In Germany one of the biggest criticisms of Waldorf schools is a word play on R. Steiner’s name, which has the word “Stein” (stone) in it. Critics say that Waldorf schools tend to be like unmoving stones — and that is not meant as a compliment, i.e.like a rock you can hold on to in a big storm. Last week I listened to a video put together by German Waldorf homeschoolers from Cologne. They were all in highschool and reflected upon their education so far. Most of them were positive, but almost all students suggested that there should be more facts and detailed knowledge taught the older the student gets — especially boys wished that :). So maybe a dose of classical and Charlotte Mason thoughts — for teachers and/or students — might be refreshing. (And by the way, within Charlotte Mason and the classical movement there are many ways of teaching what and when to teach it. Laura Berquist is quite different from Susan Wise Bauer and Ambleside Online is not like Mater Amabilis or Simply Charlotte Mason).

    Well, I think now MY “rant” is over! I don’t think I have ever written so much for a commentary. Thanks for giving me an opportunity to share my thoughts. All the best to you. I really appreciate all your wisdom and your blog.

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