The Broader Essence of Waldorf Homeschooling

Waldorf homeschooling involves feeling general themes that span several grades, as opposed to “looking in the curriculum for what is for that year”.

What Waldorf homeschooling can bring you, if you let it, is healing but also BALANCE.  If you are interested in Waldorf homeschooling but lean more toward structure and skills and knowing what your child “can do”, Waldorf homeschooling can help you slow down and realize, for example, that an oral report in fifth grade could lay the basis for a discussion of literature in sixth grade.  Waldorf education can put the academic skills children need for life on a timetable that is realistic for development and can place them at a point where these skills will not be like pulling teeth, but will be vigorous and full of vitality.

If you are more unschooling led, Waldorf Education can provide a beauty in form and also help with healthy development as to what nourishes each broad developmental phase through these broad themes.  You have more leeway, I think than just “X story in X grade.”  Waldorf Education leaves time and space for what the child brings, leaves time and space for “a-ha” moments, but this comes after careful preparation by the teacher within these broad themes and meditating on the child in question.  If you are more unschooling led and you don’t feel comfortable taking the lead in teaching your child anything that the child might enjoy and find nourishing but didn’t think of it themselves first, then Waldorf Education might not be a good fit for your family.  And that is okay!

Kindergarten through Grade 2 (grades one through two is ages almost seven through eight or so):  A general theme of Continue reading

Guest Post: A Homeschooling Manifesto

One of my best friends wrote these words, and was gracious enough to let me share these words with the world.  I can see this being printed out and put on refrigerators everywhere for a dose of encouragement.

Thank you to my dearest friend, Andrea Hartman!  These are her fine words:

I remember back to when we were homeschooling, on those really hard days when the house was a mess, and I was a mess, and the kids were a mess, and I would be having the passing thought  that I should send them to school.  School would be better for them than this.

We had to do public school this year.  We might have to again.  You might have to one day.  It’s not the end of the world, but now I see the public school experience not from my own experience, but from the experience of my children.  I feel like I am really blessed with the knowledge of ‘both sides of the coin’ here.  We are planning to go back to homeschooling this coming fall, so I have written a Homeschooling Manifesto. I didn’t write my little manifesto to discuss the negatives of school, but to reconnect myself with the essence of homeschool.  I’d love for you to read it, file it away, and on those crazy days, you can pull it out and remind yourself of what you are really doing.  I promise you, I will be reading it next year, many times.  ;-)  I hope you enjoy it!

 

Today, in New England, it was a beautiful day. Sunny, breezy, low 60’s. Perhaps to my Florida family, this is a chilly day, made for long sleeves and snuggles. But to my northeastern friends, this was a day for opening windows, climbing trees, and running through the grass barefooted.

As I gratefully cracked open my own window over the kitchen sink this afternoon and felt the cool breeze on my face, I realized that these three aforementioned activities are so very symbolic of the choice our family has returned to- homeschooling.

For a variety of reasons, our family tried public school this year. I must say, that of all the public schools out there, this is one of the best. Not because of test scores or academic standards, but because it is old and has character, it is small and cozy, and the principal is there every day, accessible and available to chat with a smile on her face. One cannot say this of many public schools. Continue reading

Simplicity Monday

Many of us parents take our children’s “emotional temperature” several times a day.  We monitor their feelings, asking them to describe those feelings, to express them, to talk about them.  We expect our children to have a complex awareness of their own emotions, with the insight and vocabulary to convey that awareness.  While our intentions are well-meaning  –“Honey, do you think your anger at your sister might also be a little jealousy?  Can you tell her how feel inside?”  — this emotional monitoring has an unexpected effect.  It rushes kids along, pushing them into a premature adolescence…..To dissect and parse that, to push and push, imagining that they are hiding a much more subtle or nuanced feeling or reply, is invasive.  It is also usually unproductive, expect perhaps in making a child nervous.” — Simplicity Parenting, Kim John Payne

Just for today, think in your head how your child feels and connect with that through Continue reading

Sunday Books: “The Power of Play”

We are continuing on with our look at Thomas Poplawski’s “Completing the Circle”, available for free at the Waldorf On-Line Library.  Today’s chapter is about the power of play, especially free play.  In a world full of enrichment classes and a myriad of scheduled activities for the youngest children, free play is consistently undervalued.  The author writes:

In school and even at home, there has been the unending effort made to give
the child every possible advantage by pushing early academic learning and the
early development of specific skills, this in spite of the fact that educational research
has found no evidence that such early “enrichment” programming provides any
long-term advantage for most children. Only disabled children and those from
deprived circumstance, like those served in the Head Start program, clearly benefit
from them.”

The author cites that the American school system bias against play may be historically influenced by Maria Montessori’s methods, Puritanism and Freud.    Yet, we all know that imaginative play is a huge correlate to verbal fluency, mathematical thinking, and genera thinking.    But perhaps most importantly,

“Russ concluded, however, that imaginative play is the tool that every child uses to learn to cope with stress in life and that to interfere with the child’s learning how to play in a healthy manner imperils the later development of emotional regulation and coping skills…..

Brown was asked to investigate the background of a young man who some
years ago shot and killed nineteen people from a tower at The University of Texas
in Austin. He found that Continue reading

More Musings On Grade Six

Something has happened to me on my way to planning grade six:

I grew a little.

I don’t mean literally of course, but what I mean is in seeing the essence in the curriculum as we enter into these upper grades.  I am seeing the holiness in the curriculum and how that relates to my children, to me, and to our interconnectedness to the world.

In the Waldorf curriculum, the sixth grader is usually twelve or close to twelve.  And many things begin happening at this time:  turbulence.  A passionate acceptance or rejection of things.

And I was thinking what I had to possibly offer.  Do I have anything?  Sometimes, like many mothers, I don’t feel like I have reserves.  I certainly have not felt like I had much to give this year.  And, this thought is tinged by this being that time of year where almost all homeschoolers I know feel as if the year has been stale or flat.  So we have to sort through how we feel to whether or not within our feelings  lies any truth.

The big picture of sixth grade, to me and from my end as a homeschooling parent includes: Continue reading

What Are We Doing??

I got a unique chance to hear Rainbow Rosenbloom of Live Education (http://www.live-education.com/) speak this weekend.  He almost never comes to the Southeast, so I am filled with gratitude that he accepted our homeschooling group’s invitation to come for our annual Conference/Curriculum Fair.

I think one of the most interesting and provocative things he said was (in going through all the ages from the Early Years through Grade 8 in one day, on Saturday) was how he saw the subjects as the vehicle for teaching the bigger picture of character development, for training soul faculties, and how this corresponded to a child’s developmental age.  This is something that many veteran Waldorf home educators know, but it is always nice to be reminded about this again and again with different stories of children, different terms and vocabulary that reflect a broader picture, and what that  all really means.

For example, in much simpler terms than the four hours or so we sat in lecture about this subject (!), he broke the developmental stages of childhood down into: Continue reading

Sunday Books: “Taming The Media Monster”

We are continuing our look at Thomas Poplawski’s book Completing The Circle by looking at the chapter entitled, “Taming The Media Monster”.  You can access this book for free here:  http://www.waldorflibrary.org/index.php?option=com_booklibrary&task=view&id=1202&catid=133&Itemid=3

The author begins this chapter with the scenario of a kindergarten teacher discussing her Waldorf School’s media policy and the various reactions of parents who are divided into two camps – one thinking the policy is too extreme, too invasive and the other camp who thinks the policy is perfect.  He writes: Continue reading

“Working Material for the Class Teacher Forming The Lessons of Grades One Through Four”

 

This is a little gem,  a document put into a bound book along with the few pages of the working document I mentioned in my last post (“Examining the Waldorf Curriculum from an American Viewpoint”).  On page 18 of this manuscript, there are several “golden rules” for teaching from a Waldorf perspective and I thought I would highlight a few for you.

 

1.  Thinking, feeling, willing – you hear this a lot in the world of homeschooling blogs and literature but the point is to always bring the subject at hand back to the child.  How does this have to do with your child, how does this concern your child? This takes careful child observation and in this, we can tailor our homeschooling to the child.  It always goes back to the human being.

2.  Doing then understanding, whole and then parts.  This is opposite of how many adults function (ie, first we as adults have to understand in order to “do”), so this can take some getting used to.

3.  The world is beautiful!  I love this one, because it sums up my philosophy of life.  Here is a direct quote:    “For the teacher there is the stumbling-block that he sees what is NOT beautiful in the world.  His task and his exercise will be to see the beautiful in everything and point it out.”  Bring everything into a picture. This is why individual biography is so important in fourth grade and up (after the nine year change). 

4.  Rhythm.  Rhythm is still important – movement and resting, listening and speaking, group activity versus individual activity.  How do we work with this in the home environment?  This is an important question.

5.  Practical life.  Waldorf homeschooling is first and foremost an education of beauty, and of beauty in the practical life.

 

One last quote:  “Of course we must take care take care today that the child does not become precocious, that he is not made “old” too quickly, which is that the times and the overall environment want to achieve with force, and so we must develop willing, imagination and warmth of heart as strongly as the intellect.”

 

Lovely thoughts to ponder today,

Carrie

Boundaries For Gentle Parenting: Why? How?

Often in  the world of gentle discipline we are implored to look at our child’s needs and wants when they are acting in a way that we don’t understand or want. However,  I often think that just attributing a reason “why” a child does something is really not enough or honestly, even always necessary. I have known and worked with a lot of children and their families, and I just don’t know as every childhood action that is trying or challenging  to adults is the result of an unmet need that the parent needs to decipher. Yes, sometimes there are things going on that the child is feeling stressed about and cannot articulate well.  Yes, we live in a fast-paced world and many children have an awful lot to deal with.  Connection and attributing positive intent  to a child’s often immature but developmentally appropriate actions are so important. But some actions are just things that children do for whatever reason, many times without really thinking at all. Continue reading

The American Impulse In Waldorf Homeschooling

I think in Waldorf homeschooling, we have a unique chance to take the indications and pedagogy built by the indications of Rudolf Steiner and the Waldorf Schools and build off of them toward our own culture or our own religious impulses.

The American impulse in Waldorf homeschooling is something I really want to discuss today.  I alluded to it in one of my last posts where I referred to the Neoclassical period of American history here: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2013/03/17/pondering-portals-part-three-media/

I have been deeply disappointed as to the depth and breadth of the American spirit as covered within the Waldorf Curriculum as according to the AWNSA chart, which otherwise I love and use for planning my year. There are a few nods to American literature and Continue reading