I hear from many families who are interested in Waldorf homeschooling. I do think the home environment is much different than the Waldorf school environment; it is much like comparing oranges and grapefruit in a way. A Waldorf school and Waldorf homeschooling are related with Waldorf Schools giving us a model of the curriculum for the school environment but homeschooling has a different flavor!
It is also different because it is up to us, as homeschooling parents, to hold things – to really create that form for the day, the month and the year. Parents often become interested in Waldorf homeschooling because it is perceived as gentle, based in nature, the better-late-than-early category. It is those things, but there is more. We often hear how we take Waldorf homeschooling and what resonates about this with us and then it is Waldorf education. However, I think there is more than this.
Actually, I think there are five essential truths that should be worked with regarding Waldorf homeschooling. If you can get through these five things and feel like it resonates with you, then I think Waldorf homeschooling could be a success for you!
1. Self-awareness. If we understand that Waldorf education is based upon childhood development, then I think in order to teach and parent in a way that encompasses this view, first we have to know ourselves. This is a continual and ongoing process as we go through different cycles in life, but looking at our own biography, knowing our own temperament, knowing where we are, is vitally important. And being able to look at ourselves and our own stories with a feeling of steadiness and steadfastness is important for the work we are laying in our own families. This is something that is ongoing.
2. Inner work. Once we have self-awareness, it is important to see what we can do with that. What gifts does our self-awareness give us and give our children? How do we connect into something higher than ourselves in this endeavor? What qualities need developing in ourselves for working with our children for the betterment of our own community and humanity? How do we ask for help from the angelic realms?
3. Child Observation. If you can really observe and think about your child in an unbiased manner (which is very tricky! Can we ever really be unbiased about our own children?) then we can begin to harness the benefits of the Waldorf curriculum for own individual child in our own family culture in our own geographic location in this time. One thing I like to try in child observation is to strike a balance. I know in talking to other mothers that we can often be too harsh regarding our children and the things they do or don’t do, but often we can also stick our heads in the sand and see our children as perfect and not needing to work on developing anything. Both of these approaches demand that we make an further attempt to look at our children without bias and to meditate on a balanced picture of our children. Child observation and meditation also, I think, goes back to inner work and learning to trust our own intuition about our children and what their needs are. That will come as you sit and digest your impressions of the day, the week, the month and the year. If you can be present and with your children, and do your own inner work, the revelations will come as to what your child really needs and is asking for.
4. Child Development. If you are interested in Waldorf homeschooling, then childhood development from the perspective of Rudolf Steiner is a necessity to understand the underpinnings of the curriculum followed in the school and the way you can use your child observations and meditations to bring homeschooling to life at home. It also helps you when you go to read literature about Waldorf homeschooling, because you will understand what you are reading since the educational literature has a language all its own, and it will help you in your inner work to realize that the view of the human being in Waldorf Education is a spiritual one and that we are always developing throughout the life span.
5. Authority. This really can trip up the attachment parenting families interested in Waldorf homeschooling and Waldorf Education! Again, this is about using all of our freedom as homeschoolers to create healthy forms that will result in a healthy adult human being for our children. In Waldorf Education, the child has a different consciousness than the adult and therefore deserves, demands, and needs a stable guide and strong boundaries in this endeavor of growing up. This does not mean that the child is not important (see child observation and child development point above!), nor does it mean that the child has nothing to teach us (on the contrary, the child is the textbook!), nor that we should not leave enough space in our lessons for the inspiration the child brings, but that we can and should actually teach, lead, guide, parent. Waldorf Education really brings the role of the teacher to the forefront, in a gentle and loving and connected to the child kind of way, but also in a way that says, yes, I am the adult here. I can do this if I develop not only a thinking way of accepting these tenets, but also accepting them in my feeling life, and then I have to use my own WILL to follow through.