“I Have a Four Year Old and A 20 Month Old and I Just Found Waldorf….Now What Do I Do?”

This question, or a variation of this, comes up on all the Waldorf Facebook groups frequently. It is a not a bad question, of course,  but also a challenging one for a “sound byte” medium such as Facebook because it deserves a full answer as to what the essence of Waldorf homeschooling is really about.  Waldorf homeschooling is really about much more than the outer aspects of Waldorf that are touted on some of these groups, because it is the “inner” Waldorf life that really creates Waldorf homeschooling.

So, I am writing today to give some direction to those with small children who have just discovered Waldorf Education and are not sure where to go beyond the outer trappings of “stuff”.

I think the first aspect is to realize that Waldorf Education in the home first and foremost deals with a basis of attachment between parent and child.  This is the basis of homeschooling in general, and Waldorf homeschooling is no exception.  Therefore, you will need to be able to sort through literature about Waldorf Education and look at it through the lens of the home and family.  I suggest beginning by reading some of the articles from the Gateways Journal through the Waldorf Library.  The Gateways Journal deals with the Early Years child, mainly within a school setting, but much of it is also about development of the Early Years child in general and is therefore very valuable to the homeschooling parent.

Secondly, Waldorf Education is about developmental and holistic education based upon Rudolf Steiner’s pedagogical view of the child.  It would serve one well to delve deeper into this area so one knows whether Waldorf Education matches up to what one really believes. The first seven years are about a Continue reading

Wrap Up Of Weeks Fourteen and Fifteen of 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 week thirteen  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.

Rhythm:  We completed week fourteen before our Winter Break, and this week was week fifteen of school.  I made a very simple schedule with times on it for school in January, knowing that we might need to ease back into school.  I am so glad I did since we all ended up with the flu, and I have been the sickest out of everyone.  I didn’t get the cleaning and planning (ie, hunt for images ahead of time for our seventh grader’s block), but I am also so happy I plan all blocks over the spring and summer.  It really saves you when you fall sick over the winter break.  I highly encourage you to start thinking about the grade you will start in the fall and compiling your resources.  I am ready to start ordering things soon.

Kindergarten:  Continue reading

Hunting For Solutions in Waldorf Homeschooling?

This is the time of year, homeschooling mamas!  I am back on some of the Waldorf Facebook groups and the questions about new beginnings are flowing in on those boards.  These tend to be many of the same questions people have over and over from year to year.  And that is okay, because the people who are searching for answers are often new and this is the cycle of things in homeschooling in general.

Waldorf homeschooling in peace and joy requires that one lets go of creating a school environment in the home – you are a busy mother; you are not an entire paid faculty.  At the same time, Waldorf homeschooling also asks you to rise up and try.  Try to paint, draw, memorize, look for poetry.  Try.  Try and bring as much as you can as you strive.  That is joyful Waldorf homeschooling.  You have to be able to let go of guilt and enjoy the benefits of homeschooling – which is to be together as a family and to meet the child in front  of you.  Let go of your guilt and perfectionism and enjoy!

Here are a few of my tips for the specific common questions, which generally seem to involve rhythm and the early grades – Continue reading

Wrap Up of Week Thirteen of 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 week twelve  here 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:  We took the week of Thanksgiving off, and I used a little bit of time during that week to play with the idea of a schedule with activities for each child in a time slot.  I have not been a real “time” person before, but what I have found with having three children doing school this year, our five-year-old wanting more structure and needing more physical activity, both our older children tackling things that are demanding for them and needing me, and me needing some time for self-care, it seemed a schedule with times might be helpful.  How many hours are realistically available to us in a day anyway?  Could all of this even happen in a day?   How long do all these activities and things take anyway?   These were the questions I had when I started out.  I found, yes, there are enough hours in the day and that assigning times and figuring out what each child was doing when and with whom and for how long actually was a helpful process to go through.  I don’t feel like the timed schedule is a noose around my neck at all, and I feel comfortable jumping in if we are running late or things come up, but the older children have surprisingly embraced having a more “time exact”  written down schedule and we are actually getting to extra foreign language, handwork , knitting for me and other things much more this week than before when we had a loose rhythm.  So, time will tell if it holds!

Kindergarten:  One of the days over Thanksgiving break, our five year old walked two miles to play at a nearby park in the morning and then we also hiked in the afternoon.  This is the amount of activity he really needs to be happy.  Our older children definitely had this and more when they were his age, but the trick has been trying to do this for our youngest whilst our older children need different things.  So, having a schedule as mentioned above has helped.   One morning I also have Continue reading

Homeschooling Middle School: Socialization and the Future

Several mothers of middle schooled homeschooled children whom I have spoken to recently (with children ranging from almost 13 to 14 and a half), have said that their children have asked for either classes with a peer group or expressed an interest in someday attending school.  My own older daughter recently told me she would like a Latin class in a group of peers, which I thought was interesting timing on the heels of some of the conversation between myself and other parents.

This question  has also given many of us  as parents a small wondering pause.  Many of the parents who have planned to homeschool through high school are wondering if the pull towards peers is going to become stronger and stronger and will our teens be happy homeschooling high school or will they want to do something different?  And then there is always that delicate balance of how much does a child get to decide for themselves what course their education is going to take during the teen years?  Much like many children do not have a choice whether or not to attend school, many homeschoolers feel a traditional academic school is not a good fit for their family, even in high school.  These are the delicate issues that must be grappled with.

And I think this wanting to be  in a peer group for classes and learning also points to a different piece – being with peers socially.  My daughter told me the other day that she loves homeschooling and wouldn’t change a thing about it, but she does wish she could see her friends more during the week.

Because there is a big change that happens in middle school homeschooling, I think.  Continue reading

A Special Guest Post For Developmental Friday: The Fourteen- Year- Old Boy

I am so honored to have author Lea Page, a longtime homeschooling mother and veteran parent, here with us today.  Lea raised and homeschooled her two children in rural Montana. She now lives and writes in New Hampshire.  Her new book, “Parenting in the Here and Now”, promises to be an amazing read for all parents.  Her book has a page on the Floris book website here.  This book is scheduled for publication in the UK on April 16th, and will be available from Steiner Books and other bookstores in the US a few weeks later.  It is available now for pre-order on Amazon.  Enjoy Lea’s beautiful post about Advent, waiting, and the fourteen year old boy.  I am so pleased she is here with us!

The 14 Year Old Boy—or—Waiting for Him to Emerge from the Cave

Advent is the perfect time to consider the fourteen-year-old boy. Think of the classic gesture: he withdraws into his room, which he now prefers to be unlit and untouched by any human hand, most especially yours. When he responds to you—IF he responds—it may be monosyllabic.

For parents, this time can be challenging and frustrating. We want him to come out and… do something! Say something! Reassure us that he is…. what? who? The delightful thirteen-year-old that he used to be? He can’t.

This withdrawal is how—in his messy, unmade bed way—your fourteen-year-old walks into the mystery of deep reflection and infinite possibility. The whole year is a transition. It will be, for him, a journey into and out of the Advent spiral. He walks into darkness alone, in search of that single flame at the center. And then he tips his candle to that light and kindles his own. If you have watched a child walk an Advent spiral, you know that they emerge lit from within.

Advent is a time of waiting and of faith. And so it is with our fourteen-year-old boys. We must wait, and we must have faith. And more than that: we must hold them in our hearts with reverence, even when the smell of their socks is staggering.

The fourteen-year-old still sees the world as black or white, either/or, good or bad. He is beginning a journey where he will discover that most of the world operates in the grey area and that there is a positive and negative aspect to everything, depending on the circumstances. It’s all relative. Continue reading

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