An Introduction to Waldorf Homeschooling

 

To me, there are five main areas which come together to compose a Waldorf homeschool:

The Inner Work and Inner Life of the Teacher – this is of paramount importance, and the basis and foundation of Waldorf homeschooling.  Who you are and where you are on your inner path and spiritual work  is more important than the subject you teach.  Your will, your rhythms, your outlook, your spiritual work, will determine far more for your child than anything else – especially in the world of homeschooling where you are both parent and teacher.

An Understanding of Childhood Developmental Phases – I write about childhood development extensively on this blog.  Suffice it to say the view in Waldorf Education is that the human being is a spiritual being and that we continue to change, develop and grow throughout our lifetime.

Temperament of the grades-aged child (and in the teen years, emotion and personality) – We need to recognize not only the temperaments associated with the various developmental stages, but also the temperament of  our own child and ourselves and how to bring balance to that within our homeschooling experiences.

An Understanding of the Curriculum and How to Adapt it to Your Child and Homeschool:  We can start with such things as Steiner’s lectures and the secondary literature of the pedagogy.  However, the time we live in, the local geography, customs, language, local festivals and cultural events are all points in which the learning experience starts within the child and the child’s world. So, therefore, we must be familiar with not only the curriculum, but also with our own child and our own observations and meditation as to what that child needs, and then how to have the curriculum fulfill the needs of the child.  Dogmatic story-art-summary rhythms are often not helpful in the home environment and there are many ways to bring the rhythms of Waldorf Education to the home.

An Ability to “DO”, rather than just read.  This includes not only the ability to hold a rhythm and be organized, but also the ability to learn new things for oneself both in the area of the arts and in academic subjects.  For example, few of us were taught geometry the way the curriculum is outlined, and one most be willing to take a subject, even a familiar subject and see how  to dig into it and look at it from a spiritual perspective and to view art as a spiritual activity.

Many blessings,
Carrie

Wrap Up of Week Twelve of Seventh and Fourth Grade

Hard to believe our first “trimester” was over as of Friday!  We have been in school for a full twelve weeks (starting week thirteen today!) and I do have a full thirty six weeks of school planned (although we will see if we stop at thirty four weeks instead).  At any rate, I feel as if we have accomplished quite a bit and I also feel like we are hitting a stride.  Some days are still rough, as always in homeschooling, but many days flow.  I love how so many areas of seventh grade bleed into each other and cycle around.  It really makes for great unity in this grade I think.  Fourth grade with its strong and passionate feeling life has always been one of my favorite grades as well.

I am trying to post a little wrap-up of each week of grades seven, four and five year old kindergarten year throughout the 36 weeks I have planned for school this year.  I hope this will encourage mothers that are homeschooling multiple children (or who want to but are worried!), and  encourage mothers that even homeschooling children of multiple ages who are far apart in age is doable.  You can find week eleven here and  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2014/11/08/wrap-up-of-week-eleven-seventh-and-fourth-grade/  and further in back posts you can find a post pertaining to the first two days of school this year which gives insight to our general daily rhythm.

Changes in the Air: During week twelve we did much better starting earlier.  I was talking to a friend of mine who also has three children and we both had come to the realization that at this stage of the game, the start time matters so everyone can get what they need in and also that we can get done at a reasonable hour!

Kindergarten:  During week twelve we were still in Autumn circle, autumn fingerplays and songs, and “The Pumpkin Hotel” by Suzanne Down.   We were busy singing for Martinmas and will move into an extended circle during week thirteen melding elements of our autumn circle with gnomes, King Winter, and Martinmas lanterns and singing to extend our Martinmas celebration.  Despite the chilly weather, it has been prime acorn gathering season down here, and since we have a big bowl we have gathered on our nature walk, we are going to do the story “The Acorn Mill” this last week before we break for Thanksgiving.

Fourth Grade:  Week Twelve saw us diving into summary writing about Continue reading

Wrap Up of Week Eleven Seventh and Fourth Grade

 

I am trying to post a little wrap-up of each week of grades seven, four and five year old kindergarten year throughout the 36 weeks I have planned for school this year.  I hope this will encourage mothers that are homeschooling multiple children (or who want to but are worried!), and  encourage mothers that even homeschooling children of multiple ages who are far apart in age is doable.  You can find weeks nine and ten here and and further in back posts you can find a post pertaining to the first two days of school this year which gives insight to our general daily rhythm.

 

Changes in the Air:  I alluded to changing our daily rhythm due to seasonal changes and also to feeling as if we need a greater dose of movement each day.  I have also found at this point in the school year, almost a trimester complete, that with three children I need to have more of a schedule with times than a rhythmic flow in order that all the children get what they need.  That is a large change from past years when I really had more of a flow than set start times and end times, etc.  So I am still meditating on this, but right now I am thinking we will start at 8 with prayer, connecting with each other in love; 8:30 walk our dog; 9 start with our little kindergartener and his daily work and this can extend with our thirteen year old helping him as 9:45 is about the latest I can start with our fourth grader.  So whilst I am working with our fourth grader, our seventh grader can assist him and then also do some independent work in math or rough drafts of summaries and creative writing pieces whilst he plays by himself.  At 11:15 our seventh grader would be with me, with our fourth grader and kindergartener together.  Lunch at 12:30 and rest.  At 2, several days a week I would like to do crafts and handwork and several days a week do the requirements for the presidential fitness awards.  I have not figured out where to put foreign languages in this nor music practice…so I am still thinking.  For my own sanity, I don’t want to do any school past 3 and several days a week I would like to end earlier than that.  Thinking!

Kindergarten:  This week was mainly an autumn circle, fingerplays and seasonal songs, making broth and soup, making banana bread, and the story of the Pumpkin Motel found in Suzanne Down’s “Old Gnome Through The Year.”  There is still whittling going on as our oldest shared one of her wooden animals that she started with him and he is whittling and sanding quite happily. However, I still feel there needs to be a bit more to his day so I am thinking about that in relation to the rhythm/schedule above.  I am happy he has friends his age to play with many days of the week because as a third child and with his personality, he seems to crave that.

Fourth Grade:  This week we are solidly into local geography.  We began with Continue reading

The Type of Family That Thrives in Waldorf Homeschooling

 

(This is geared specifically to preschool/kindergarten ages)

Some Waldorf schools will send out a letter to parents of prospective children ages 3-6 to explain the goals of a Waldorf Kindergarten:  to nurture a sense of wonder and curiosity, to instill confidence and discipline, and to encourage reverence for a world that is good.  Letters such as these also often mention children that thrive in a Waldorf preschool/kindergarten environment may share certain traits.  For example, this may include little to no media exposure, healthy sleep rhythm, the ability to follow and comply with teacher’s directions, being independent in the bathroom, etc.

 

I have been mulling this over quite a bit. What are the goals of a HOMESCHOOL Waldorf kindergarten?  What kinds of families really thrive in using this type of education, designed and made for schools, at HOME?  I am sure those of you who are experienced Waldorf educators will come up with many ideas!  Please feel free to add to this list in the comment box as I think my list is just a beginning.

 

The goals of a Waldorf HOME kindergarten program, in my opinion: Continue reading

Wrap-Up Of Week One of Seventh and Fourth Grade….. (And How to Handle Life)

 

After I wrote my last post about the first two days of school, I had a comment by one of my sweet long-term readers who asked if every day went as smoothly as those two days.  Those two days did go smoothly, but certainly it is not always smooth. Sometimes it is super rough and awful.  Or one child is having a hard time and it is impacting the flow of all the other children and our day.  That is life homeschooling multiple children.

Part of life in homeschooling is also just life.  This week involved going to the barn, our family attending (and me leading) a breastfeeding support group session, numerous calls and emails and such that needed to be returned after said meeting, two visits by friends to our home on separate days, a run to the allergist and grocery store, a visiting aunt who is here through the weekend to teach machine sewing and work on a  mini-quilting project with my seventh grader (which is normally more eighth grade in a Waldorf School, but this particular aunt lives far away so I am happy to take her up on it now!), (our fourth grader also doing a mini project to help brush up on measurement skills and look at textiles and then will  have a turn machine sewing in eighth grade for her very own),  a husband who traveled out of state the majority of the week, and the pet care of two hamsters, fish, frogs, and a large dog plus meals and housekeeping.  That is all life and part of homeschooling as well.  Especially as your children grow older, they may have more activities or passions they are investigating and have distinctly different needs than the children in grades one through four.   Life may expand outside the home, but being within the home is still the basis of homeschooling and the more you are home, the more smoothly things will run, in my experience.

So, how does one manage life and homeschooling?  Continue reading

First Two Days of School: Seventh Grade, Fourth Grade and Kindy

 

People who are curious about homeschooling always want to know how it rolls with multiple children and how it works teaching multiple grades using Waldorf Education at home.  It is undoubtedly different than a Waldorf school, and yet I feel indebted to the schools and the resources the Waldorf school teachers use as I gleam so much from the teachers and their resources.

We celebrated our first day of seventh grade, fourth grade and kindy (our four year old will be five in October, so this is his five year old year) yesterday.  What follows are two days in the life of our homeschooling adventure.

On most of the “first day of school” in years past our older girls would dress alike in something new or wear something pretty from what they already had.  This year they dressed up in something they already had, took the dog and their little brother for a quick walk (all barefooted) and came back and we took first day of school pictures (still barefooted).  They quickly checked on their hamsters, fish and frog and then came to the school room.  We opened our school day around 8:15 with prayers and confession, and then a reading from “Making Brothers and Sisters Best Friends” (Christian book). We are alternating this book in the morning with some of the writings of St. Theophan the Recluse.  Next we moved into singing and fingerplays for our four year old and ended with a story from Juniper Tree Puppets’ Old Gnome Through The Year book.  I had wet on wet watercolor painted a very large background with a pond and frog puppets on sticks that move within the painting and had needle felted a gnome for the telling of this story.  The older girls then grabbed their folders of independent work (fourth grader reviewing coinage in math and seventh grader reviewing United States geography) and the little guy and I went downstairs.  He worked on tying his apron in the front, measuring ingredients,  and stirring with one and then both hands to make a big batch of yellow, lemon essential oil scented salt dough.  After we cleaned up, I took him outside (still in his heavy apron) to hunt for beautiful sticks and presented him with a very small pocketknife. (If you would like to know more about this, please see the writings on the Forest Kindergartens in Germany and Europe, and also the woodworking book for 3-5 year olds by  Master Waldorf teacher Marsha Johnson.) I demonstrated and modeled the use and care of the knife and how to whittle and  he very carefully whittled the bark off the end of a small stick to be a fishing pole for the Old Gnome puppet in our story under supervision.  Once the whittling was complete for the day, I put the knife away in a very safe place. Our seventh grader then took over the supervision of her brother  whilst I worked with our fourth grader.

Our fourth grader began with Continue reading

Creating Your Own Forest or Farm Homeschool Kindergarten Experience

 

I have written about my  fascination with the forest kindergarten/farm school movement in back posts with detailed links.  I recently found this link interviewing Erin Kenny, founder of Cedarsong  Forest Kindergarten.  You can read that interview here:  http://www.safbaby.com/forest-kindergarten-a-better-way-to-teach-our-young-children.

I think the models we have for this  movement within Waldorf Education are places such as Nokken with Helle Heckmann (please see back posts on Nokken on this blog and also this link regarding  farm-based educator inspired by Waldorf Education:   https://www.biodynamics.com/farm-based-educators).

 

The major benefits of Forest School, as listed in the book, “Forest School and Outdoor Learning in the Early Years” by Sara Knight are increased confidence and self-belief; social skills with increased awareness of the consequence of their actions on other people, peers and adults and the ability to work cooperatively; more sophisticated written and spoken language; increased motivation and concentration; improved stamina and gross and fine motor skills; increased respect for the environment and increased observational skills; ability to have new perspectives and form positive relationships with others; a ripple effect to the family.

 

I have been thinking lately Continue reading