Am I “Waldorf Enough”??

This is a question that NEVER comes up with other homeschooling methods.  You never hear another homeschooling mother say, “Gosh, I don’t think I am Montessori enough.” or “Gosh, I wonder if I am Classical  enough.”

What is it about Waldorf homeschooling that brings out this guilt?

I think it is because no one other form of homeschooling is so tied into the universal picture of child development and how the development of the human being impacts parenting and education.  I don’t know as any other form of education has such a strong idea about what leads to good adult health in the future.  It is also more teacher led, than say opening a textbook or workbook and reading that.  It involves a certain initiative.

So, because of that it is natural to wonder if one’s efforts measure up.

“One’s efforts.”  I think that is the first thing we need to ask ourselves when we are wondering if we “measure up” is:

Am I making an effort?  What is my effort toward?    I think almost more than any physical  piece, like do I have a rhythm to my home,  or do I teach Greek mythology to my 11 year old,  the answer to this question lies in what initiation am I taking in adult education and learning about this subject?  What are the why’s beneath the “Rhythm would be good” or “Greek mythology would be good around fifth grade”?  Am I interested in learning more about how a subject that I am teaching would be approached by Steiner himself or by a teacher who really has studied Steiner?  Do I care about the developing human being and do my thoughts on this leave open some room for what Steiner or other secondary Waldorf education literature/pedagogy have to say according to what age my child is?  Does that resonate with me?

There is no “check-off” list for what is “Waldorf enough”.  It is a subjective experience.  So, when you ask yourself about “Waldorf enough”, I think all you can do is look at where you are, and where you want to go.  How do you get there?  Where are you on this walk, and is this actually the path you want to walk on to an extent?

Sometimes we hear in Waldorf Education that we have to digest things and then bring them to our children.  I think that is why so many teachers are reluctant to endorse or write a homeschool “curriculum”, because the usual method in Waldorf Education is to know oneself, to know the subject, to meditate on it and the children and digest it and then see what a-ha moments flow from that as this reverent whole.

That sounds awfully daunting, doesn’t it?  For many of us as homeschoolers, short on time and sleep, it sure does.

But here is the thing.  I think if you have a handful of those “a-ha” moments scattered throughout the year, then you are doing well.  I think the longer I teach and go through the curriculum itself (which has I outlined in previous posts may be broader for a homeschooling family than at a school), I learn and approach things differently, even if I start from a more rote perspective.

I went through botany this year.  Some of it was rote.  It was a book or books I had read, it was ideas for projects, it was ideas for paintings and drawings and experiences.  But some of it was “a-ha” and when I stepped out to look at the world, my view of the plant kingdom had changed.  My view of the cycle of the life of a butterfly had changed.  It touched me and resonated with me.  That is an “a-ha” moment.  It was “a-ha” for my child and for me as well.

I think if you have initiative to learn, if you are fairly clear at least about the basics of Waldorf education and what that means with the seven year cycles, then you are striving.  But no one can spoon feed you this path.

You have to actually want to do this and be open to it.

If it is stressful for you, then perhaps it is not the right time for you or you are focusing on the wrong things on this path.  It is not the wooden toys, it is not just about play and being outside (although that is huge!), but to me it is slowing down enough and finding time to do your own inner work (whether that is your religion, yoga and meditation or using some of Steiner’s ideas, etc) and then using some of your time for hearing the ideas of Waldorf Education and yes, thinking about how that resonates with you and where you would bring that to your child in a loving way.  It implies a certain amount of trust that this would be beneficial for my child. 

It is about seeing broad pictures and themes.

It is about regarding this work as holy and sacred.  It is a privilege to be able to do this, not a bother and not a stress.

It is about being positive about where you are, but also to keep striving forward with your own efforts and not waiting for it to fall into your lap.

Observe your child, and keep striving.  Those are the two rules.

To this I would add a third:  understand child development and the seven year cycles.  Then you know the “why’s” of the curriculum and how to adapt to what works for you.

Blessings,

Carrie

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11 thoughts on “Am I “Waldorf Enough”??

  1. as always … very timely and very well said :-) Thank you Carrie for all you bring to us on this path of discovery

  2. Thank you! As a mother who sends her child to Waldorf school rather than homeschooling, I often wonder if this makes me Waldorf-y enough. By staying engaged in my own inner work and study, I know that this lives in me, even though I’m not the “only” one bringing it to my family.

    Date: Sat, 4 May 2013 14:17:15 +0000 To: akbello@hotmail.com

  3. Thank you again for the message of “wait, grace, press on.”
    Besides reading Steiners work, could you suggest a book that briefly (as I have 3 small children) covers/overviews the 7 year cycles?

    • Talia,
      You could see the posts on this blog regarding “Tapestries” under the book header. Otherwise, I think “Phases” by Bernard Lievgoed is decent. There are also many posts here under the development header.
      Warmly,
      Carrie

  4. This is a wonderful post. As someone who has dabbled with Waldorf things for a few years, I can tell you it is intimidating to be around hardcore Waldorf families, or those that follow all or most of the principles. For example, my husband will NOT even consider getting rid of the TV, and he lets my children watch it on the weekend, and he has made abundantly clear that this topic is not open for discussion. Obviously, my kids get to watch more tv than the average Waldorf family, and it does make me feel weird when we’re around them…what if my kid says something about Dora!?! And I don’t follow the grains for the days of the week…sorry, I’m just happy if I can get a nice meal on at the right times, and about 1/3 of the time that doesn’t happen either. I also lack patience with the developmental aspects because, while I do think the indications are wonderful and helpful, I also think every single child is different and responds differently to things. And all the advice you see drives me bananas because my kids do not seem to have received the memo. What? I’m supposed to love it when my mother sings at various times throughout the day to introduce new activities? Well, I don’t, and I’m going to scream at her to stop singing! Yeah, after a couple days of that, it makes me feel inadequate and wonder what it is about me that is incompatible with Waldorf. Why can all of these other people make it work and not me? So, I just do what works and try to not to get too disappointed by what doesn’t work and drive on. It is a hodge podge of different things, our rhythm and our learning, and that is what it will remain. I have stopped looking to others for advice or comment because it just makes me feel like I’m doing it wrong.

    • Valerie,
      I think it is focusing on perhaps not the things where you don’t feel like you “measure up” in Waldorf but the things you are learning, the things that are successful. That striving and initiative is the foundation to build upon I think. It really isn’t about being Waldorf enough or not or such, but what initiative are you willing to take and what is feasible within your own family.

      That is the good enough part.
      Blessings,
      Carrie

  5. “This is a question that NEVER comes up with other homeschooling methods. You never hear another homeschooling mother say, “Gosh, I don’t think I am Montessori enough.” or “Gosh, I wonder if I am Classical enough.”

    What is it about Waldorf homeschooling that brings out this guilt?

    I think it is because no one other form of homeschooling is so tied into the universal picture of child development and how the development of the human being impacts parenting and education. I don’t know as any other form of education has such a strong idea about what leads to good adult health in the future. It is also more teacher led, than say opening a textbook or workbook and reading that. It involves a certain initiative.”

    Love this Carrie, it is so apt. I had such a love-hate thing with Waldorf for a few years when I started out feeling so drawn to it and not good enough at the same time. It was immersion and understanding where things come from, the anthroposphy and the developmental picture that form the pedagogy as well as observing how it worked with my family, that helped me find my relationship to it, knowing that it is a living education for me too and coming to see it as an ongoing process

    I love the checklist comment ~ Waldorf is so process oriented and social too, a checklist won’t do. Yes to trust.

  6. Thank you for posting this. I’m trying to homeschool in a foreign country, fairly isolated from my support system back home in the States. I never realized how much I relied on my Waldorf school to bring Waldorf to my kids. Your essay brings to light the idea of living this curriculum before I can bring it to the kids. So they have had three months off of a school while I waited to get settled. Now they will wait a little longer while I embody this curriculum. Then maybe we will start. Or maybe I’ll continue to unschool them. A jungle a great place to unschool anyway. And then when we come home, I’ll let the school direct me on how to catch them up. Who knows.

    What resonates with me mostly, is the idea of striving. My spiritual path is the same. It is in the striving that we continue down the path of being human. It is not about being a perfect human. There is no such thing if we think we are less than perfect as we are in this moment. There’s something about trust in there too, that I’d love for you to touch on.

    What also comes to my mind, is that Waldorf isn’t so much about how it looks on the surface, but how it feels in the body. Living here, where there is no one else who even knows what Waldorf is, I can relax my guilt a little, though my inner voices are still there judging me. Now I am exploring the boundaries I want for my family. I ask myself, who am I? Who am I in this family? What are my values? I think I don’t give myself enough credit: Waldorf fits with who I am naturally. Not the other way around.

  7. Pingback: The Heart of It (Inner Work!) | Cedar Ring Mama

  8. Pingback: What Do We Really Mean When We Say Something Is "Waldorf"? | Song & Season

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