I have often said on this blog that part of homeschooling is knowing when to continue and get some things done, and when to know to leave it and go to the park that day! Those of you who homeschool in a Waldorf way probably are nodding your heads right now! I myself was having a harder time toward the end of this week with my little almost four year old during some of the main lesson time for his older siblings. It is an almost universal theme when I talk to homeschooling mothers.
I also get quite a bit of email regarding what to do with younger siblings (ie, nursery aged of ages 3 and 4, and kindergarten aged of ages 5 and 6) during main lessons for the older, grades-aged children. I have written about this subject again and again, so there are many back posts you can run a search for and see under the “Homeschooling” tab.
This is the main lesson for homeschooling life though: if you are so harried and so busy trying to fit “school” in that there is no time for your littles, then you simply must sit down and think through what needs to change. I had to do that this week. There is no shame in re-assessing, re-evaluating and tweaking things to run more smoothly!
The fact is that if we are trying to run our homeschooling as if our smallest children don’t exist or matter and are only there to “hang out” whilst we work with the older children, then this is not laying a good foundation for family life (nor is it laying a good foundation for grades work when the time comes for this child!).
This is because this is the curriculum for the young child is absolutely laying a foundation. This is done through:
- Unrushed time
- Cuddling and Snuggling
- Singing, fingerplays and toe plays
- Playing, especially in natural environments where they can get dirty!
- Real work and helping you do real things
- Experiences that nurture and protect the senses
- If they are 5 or 6 years old, artistic experiences
- Physical play and mobility – riding a bike, running, climbing, balancing,
Building margins of time and space into the rhythm of your day is important. Waldorf Education includes lots and lots of things that can translate to all ages. For example, if your third grader is building a diaroma out of a shoebox and natural items to explore Native Americans, then your kindergarten-aged child can also be building something for their peg people as well. There are many layers to the curriculum and many ways to prepare things for a successful and fun day!
Conversely, if you are spending your whole day or week in nursery or kindergarten land, and are not really working with your older children (if you are trying to homeschool in a Waldorf Way, that is), then that is also not a service to the older children. Grades-aged children are READY to do things, they are READY to have you teach, they are READY to learn. They need consistent times to work on things, to have you teach, and to have time to explore as well.
I will write more about this in some future posts, but I do think this idea of balance is important and dear in homeschooling, and it CAN be done in a Waldorf homeschooling environment. It can! Start where you are and see what small changes you can make toward balancing the needs of the whole family.