The Broader Essence of Waldorf Homeschooling

Waldorf homeschooling involves feeling general themes that span several grades, as opposed to “looking in the curriculum for what is for that year”.

What Waldorf homeschooling can bring you, if you let it, is healing but also BALANCE.  If you are interested in Waldorf homeschooling but lean more toward structure and skills and knowing what your child “can do”, Waldorf homeschooling can help you slow down and realize, for example, that an oral report in fifth grade could lay the basis for a discussion of literature in sixth grade.  Waldorf education can put the academic skills children need for life on a timetable that is realistic for development and can place them at a point where these skills will not be like pulling teeth, but will be vigorous and full of vitality.

If you are more unschooling led, Waldorf Education can provide a beauty in form and also help with healthy development as to what nourishes each broad developmental phase through these broad themes.  You have more leeway, I think than just “X story in X grade.”  Waldorf Education leaves time and space for what the child brings, leaves time and space for “a-ha” moments, but this comes after careful preparation by the teacher within these broad themes and meditating on the child in question.  If you are more unschooling led and you don’t feel comfortable taking the lead in teaching your child anything that the child might enjoy and find nourishing but didn’t think of it themselves first, then Waldorf Education might not be a good fit for your family.  And that is okay!

Kindergarten through Grade 2 (grades one through two is ages almost seven through eight or so):  A general theme of Continue reading

Guest Post: A Homeschooling Manifesto

One of my best friends wrote these words, and was gracious enough to let me share these words with the world.  I can see this being printed out and put on refrigerators everywhere for a dose of encouragement.

Thank you to my dearest friend, Andrea Hartman!  These are her fine words:

I remember back to when we were homeschooling, on those really hard days when the house was a mess, and I was a mess, and the kids were a mess, and I would be having the passing thought  that I should send them to school.  School would be better for them than this.

We had to do public school this year.  We might have to again.  You might have to one day.  It’s not the end of the world, but now I see the public school experience not from my own experience, but from the experience of my children.  I feel like I am really blessed with the knowledge of ‘both sides of the coin’ here.  We are planning to go back to homeschooling this coming fall, so I have written a Homeschooling Manifesto. I didn’t write my little manifesto to discuss the negatives of school, but to reconnect myself with the essence of homeschool.  I’d love for you to read it, file it away, and on those crazy days, you can pull it out and remind yourself of what you are really doing.  I promise you, I will be reading it next year, many times.  ;-)  I hope you enjoy it!

 

Today, in New England, it was a beautiful day. Sunny, breezy, low 60’s. Perhaps to my Florida family, this is a chilly day, made for long sleeves and snuggles. But to my northeastern friends, this was a day for opening windows, climbing trees, and running through the grass barefooted.

As I gratefully cracked open my own window over the kitchen sink this afternoon and felt the cool breeze on my face, I realized that these three aforementioned activities are so very symbolic of the choice our family has returned to- homeschooling.

For a variety of reasons, our family tried public school this year. I must say, that of all the public schools out there, this is one of the best. Not because of test scores or academic standards, but because it is old and has character, it is small and cozy, and the principal is there every day, accessible and available to chat with a smile on her face. One cannot say this of many public schools. Continue reading

More Musings On Grade Six

Something has happened to me on my way to planning grade six:

I grew a little.

I don’t mean literally of course, but what I mean is in seeing the essence in the curriculum as we enter into these upper grades.  I am seeing the holiness in the curriculum and how that relates to my children, to me, and to our interconnectedness to the world.

In the Waldorf curriculum, the sixth grader is usually twelve or close to twelve.  And many things begin happening at this time:  turbulence.  A passionate acceptance or rejection of things.

And I was thinking what I had to possibly offer.  Do I have anything?  Sometimes, like many mothers, I don’t feel like I have reserves.  I certainly have not felt like I had much to give this year.  And, this thought is tinged by this being that time of year where almost all homeschoolers I know feel as if the year has been stale or flat.  So we have to sort through how we feel to whether or not within our feelings  lies any truth.

The big picture of sixth grade, to me and from my end as a homeschooling parent includes: Continue reading

What Are We Doing??

I got a unique chance to hear Rainbow Rosenbloom of Live Education (http://www.live-education.com/) speak this weekend.  He almost never comes to the Southeast, so I am filled with gratitude that he accepted our homeschooling group’s invitation to come for our annual Conference/Curriculum Fair.

I think one of the most interesting and provocative things he said was (in going through all the ages from the Early Years through Grade 8 in one day, on Saturday) was how he saw the subjects as the vehicle for teaching the bigger picture of character development, for training soul faculties, and how this corresponded to a child’s developmental age.  This is something that many veteran Waldorf home educators know, but it is always nice to be reminded about this again and again with different stories of children, different terms and vocabulary that reflect a broader picture, and what that  all really means.

For example, in much simpler terms than the four hours or so we sat in lecture about this subject (!), he broke the developmental stages of childhood down into: Continue reading

“Working Material for the Class Teacher Forming The Lessons of Grades One Through Four”

 

This is a little gem,  a document put into a bound book along with the few pages of the working document I mentioned in my last post (“Examining the Waldorf Curriculum from an American Viewpoint”).  On page 18 of this manuscript, there are several “golden rules” for teaching from a Waldorf perspective and I thought I would highlight a few for you.

 

1.  Thinking, feeling, willing – you hear this a lot in the world of homeschooling blogs and literature but the point is to always bring the subject at hand back to the child.  How does this have to do with your child, how does this concern your child? This takes careful child observation and in this, we can tailor our homeschooling to the child.  It always goes back to the human being.

2.  Doing then understanding, whole and then parts.  This is opposite of how many adults function (ie, first we as adults have to understand in order to “do”), so this can take some getting used to.

3.  The world is beautiful!  I love this one, because it sums up my philosophy of life.  Here is a direct quote:    “For the teacher there is the stumbling-block that he sees what is NOT beautiful in the world.  His task and his exercise will be to see the beautiful in everything and point it out.”  Bring everything into a picture. This is why individual biography is so important in fourth grade and up (after the nine year change). 

4.  Rhythm.  Rhythm is still important – movement and resting, listening and speaking, group activity versus individual activity.  How do we work with this in the home environment?  This is an important question.

5.  Practical life.  Waldorf homeschooling is first and foremost an education of beauty, and of beauty in the practical life.

 

One last quote:  “Of course we must take care take care today that the child does not become precocious, that he is not made “old” too quickly, which is that the times and the overall environment want to achieve with force, and so we must develop willing, imagination and warmth of heart as strongly as the intellect.”

 

Lovely thoughts to ponder today,

Carrie

The American Impulse In Waldorf Homeschooling

I think in Waldorf homeschooling, we have a unique chance to take the indications and pedagogy built by the indications of Rudolf Steiner and the Waldorf Schools and build off of them toward our own culture or our own religious impulses.

The American impulse in Waldorf homeschooling is something I really want to discuss today.  I alluded to it in one of my last posts where I referred to the Neoclassical period of American history here: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2013/03/17/pondering-portals-part-three-media/

I have been deeply disappointed as to the depth and breadth of the American spirit as covered within the Waldorf Curriculum as according to the AWNSA chart, which otherwise I love and use for planning my year. There are a few nods to American literature and Continue reading

Top Ten Ways to Make Waldorf Homeschooling Work For Your Family

I see many families who start along the path of Waldorf homeschooling.  Some embrace it fully, some families weave in and out of it for quite some time.  Some families choose to go a different path, some go a different path and then steer back towards Waldorf homeschooling around the time their children go through the development shifts of ages nine and ten.  And yes, some become absolute haters of Waldorf education, which I frankly feel many times is not due to Waldorf education in and of itself, but how that family approached it all.  Are there ways to avoid pitfalls in Waldorf homeschooling?

I don’t know for sure, but I do have a few ideas.  So here are my Top Ten Ways to make Waldorf homeschooling work for you!

1.  Do not get so hung up on the “right and perfect way” to do Waldorf education or the “right and perfect curriculum” that will be the “magic” for your home.  YOU are the magic.    In the home environment, there are few guideposts and roadmaps.  The main thing is to know development, observe your child and strive yourself, have joy and keep things vibrant.  If you are trying for “perfect” it is all drudgery and you will soon abandon Waldorf Education.

2.  In the Early Years, be  wary and careful of doing way too much way too soon.  Far better to live within the rhythms of the year, the seasons, the liturgical year, your own home and develop those things fully than to spend hours creating perfect handwork projects and charming things for your children (unless creating perfect handwork projects is part of what nourishing YOU).  Do not stress over every little thing trying to make it “Waldorf perfect.”

3.  Remember the  wisdom of the forest kindergarten movement.  I really feel this is where a child birth through aged five or so should be centered more than anything, in nature and in that movement, in the musicality of creation. Around that shift of five and a quarter, five and a half I think is where you can really observe your child and see what skills they still need to develop in order to be successful in the early grades.  You can search “Nokken” in the search engine on this blog and learn more.

4.  Look ahead.  Yes, there are differences between a Continue reading

Planning: Homeschooling Grade Six

It is hard to believe I will have a sixth grader in the fall!  I have started gathering some Waldorf resources to use for grade six.

First of all, here are a few things that I know my local Waldorf School covers in Grade Six and a few notes with what I plan to do at home:

Main Lesson Blocks:

  • Roman empire, medieval society and history  (at home, I plan on covering Rome this year and will save medieval for seventh grade.  In Eighth Grade we will do the Renaissance and voyages of discovery, and then move into Asian and American history probably more in Ninth Grade.  I just feel this is a more realistic timetable for home, and since we plan to homeschool in high school, I feel I can stretch the middle school subjects a bit.)  Resources: Christopherus Roman History and Charles Kovacs’ Ancient Rome, Dorothy Harrer’s book)
  • Compositions, book reports, research projects, speech work, oral presentations, discussion, debate (see Eric Fairman’s Path of Discovery Grade Six for some neat project ideas)  — I am putting in our year a two week block of literature.  I have not yet decided what book look at in-depth during this time. I also intend to take our daughter to see some plays during this time.
  • Percents and business math, metric system,   (Probably will use a mix of Making Math Meaningful, and The Key To Series….Also may pull from more standard sources for practice problems)
  • Physics, geology, astronomy, botany  Continue reading

What I Want You To Know About Waldorf Homeschooling

It is not just about Main Lesson Books.  And in fact, in homeschooling, we have much more leeway for how we approach subjects than probably even in a Waldorf School.

Many times people want to compare a Waldorf School and Waldorf homeschooling.   I don’t think it is that simple.  In fact, it is a bit like comparing apples and oranges, as the saying goes…or perhaps it is more  like comparing grapefruit and oranges.  You know, we are related a little, we are all in the same fruit basket, but there are very different things about grapefruits and oranges!

Here is some of the “Very DIfferent”:

Waldorf homeschoolers are first and foremost homeschoolers.  We homeschool to put family first, and if we have multiple children, we might have to bend the way schools do things.  Rejoice in that!  Embrace that and live!  That is part of health!  I was thinking the other day about astronomy in sixth grade and how this is a “block” and there is this main lesson work…and how at home it might be more like camping out under the stars in the backyard, it might be watching the sunrise with a cup of tea, it might be about doing this over the summer too, it might be about going on field trips to museums or the local astronomy club in town, and it would certainly include telling some great fables about the sky and  the stars.  I guess what I am trying to say is that Waldorf at home sometimes is a bit more loose, it may not fit into a Main Lesson Book.  And that is okay!

When we Waldorf homeschool, we put our family culture first and foremost because homeschooling is about family. So whether you are Jewish or Christian, roaming travelers or love to be home, musicians or gardeners or bakers..your homeschool has the unique flavor and culture of you!  I guess this may not be much different than a teacher who imprints themselves and who they are on a class, but it is different in terms that we are building a family culture through homeschooling.  Continue reading