Planning, Planning, Get Your Planning Here! Part Two

Hello!  We are back today with Part Two regarding planning.  In our last post, we talked about planning the year out (and if you are in the early years, your work stops here after you plan a weekly and daily rhythm).  If you are in the grades, the seasonal changes of the year where you live is and your family culture are the foundation for your homeschooling, but now you add blocks of subjects in another layer.  As you are thinking about blocks, think about if you have multiple children of different ages in the grades.  My argument is that as a homeschooling family, the blocks from first through third grade (nine year change) could be done together, the blocks from ages 9 to 12 (sixth grade) could also be fluid, and then blocks for children after age 12 to age 16 could be combined in ways.

After laying out blocks in a flow for the year, including knowing how many blocks for each subject, estimate how long you think each block will take.  Then you can  start gathering resources for each subject.  There are some tried and true Waldorf resources available through Waldorf booksellers.  Be on the lookout for other resources, and ideas for music, art, movement, gardening and cooking.    Many mothers keep lists on Amazon, in a notebook, and on Pinterest for these types of resources.    There are many places, including Abe Books and Book Depository, to order resources from.  You may choose to order a curriculum, which you will need to sit down and read from start to finish.  Once you have read your resources, start compiling a general flow to your block.  How long is it working out to be? Is it like your original estimate?  You can go back and adjust your calendar.

When laying out blocks, I used to always hand write everything. Now I  usually hand write notes from a particular book or resource, and then use a computer  because what I need to present regarding history or science, for example, can be long and I can type faster than I can write.  I also need to compile not just a general flow but more of a presentation on a particular subject for middle school grades and that is often a separate file.  However,   for grades five and under I think you can plan things just by writing things on paper or index cards just fine.   Some mothers devise manila folders for each block or just a binder with plans in it.  If you plan on your computer, at some point, you need to print it out and memorize it, especially for the early grades!

When you are planning a block, it is important to remember that  parts of a block are review from the day before, but also PRACTICE.  How will you practice?  Do you have games, movement, songs, kinesthetic experiences?  The other piece is ARTISTIC.  You can gather  ideas and resources for art – drawing, painting, modeling – and try it yourself.  Try to create something yourself as well – don’t let everything be a canned image from Pinterest!  Leave  your samples in a folder.  You may have to sit down and draw or paint step by step with your child, but you will thank yourself that you tried it first!  Depending upon your grade, you may also think about things such as what read-aloud goes with a block, or songs, or handwork.  Will you put handwork, music, foreign language in with your block or before you start main lesson (Gasp!  Some homeschoolers don’t follow the head-heart- hands that the schools follow.  Some homeschoolers do not bring a foreign language at all either.  This is up to you.  Do NOT kill yourself trying to do it all.  Better to have the main lesson and a few essential areas  and a happy home life rather than trying to re-create a Waldorf School at home!)


Blessings on your homeschooling,


Planning, Planning, Get Your Planning Here! Part One

This is a post for my homeschooling mothers today…

Welcome to Planning!  Now is a great time to start thinking about your planning for fall if you are in the Northern Hemisphere.

Here are the steps:

Know your laws of your state and your country – at what age do you need to start reporting?  I see a lot of mothers of small children completely stressed out about “homeschooling” their five year old and their state reporting laws says they don’t have to report until the child is 8 years of age.  Know your laws!  How many days do you have to homeschool, how many hours a day, what subjects, is there testing or a portfolio?  If you are Waldorf homeschooling, you still need to have the sense of the bigger picture of homeschooling in your area.  You are a HOMESCHOOLER.

Take out a calendar.  What are your start and end dates?  Your vacation times?  How many days a week will you be homeschooling and how many weeks of the year?  Most homeschooling mothers plan anywhere from 32 to 36 weeks total.

While you are looking at that calendar, get out a big piece of paper and divide it so you have six squares on one side and six squares on the other.  Write one month of the year in each square.  What does each month bring up for you?  What is going on seasonally? If you are religious, what is going on in your religion each month?  Write it all down. Any favorite traditions, songs, verses, crafts, activities by month?  If you are looking for resources for some of these things, I recommend A Child’s Seasonal Treasury, Earthways, the Wynstones books by season, and any number of the seasonal books such as All Year Round, Celebrating Irish Festivals, etc.

When thinking about the year, also think about yourself.  What will you do to learn this year and further your knowledge?  When will this happen?  When will you take care of yourself – when are the dentist and doctor appointments, time to exercise, time to plan without the children – start thinking about these areas and use this little planted seed as you look at the year, the week and the day.  Self-care is not selfish! 

LOOK at the child in front of you.  Where are they developmentally?  Are they at a transition point?  Are they in their body?  What sort of life skills are they able to do and assist you with in the home?  Have they had prior school experience that they need to come off of?  How and what in the curriculum and in Steiner’s indications would BEST meet your child?  During the first few early grades this may actually be difficult to discern, but it gets easier the more experience you have in teaching.

If you are teaching the grades, what blocks are you teaching?  If you are teaching upper grades, how far and where did you leave off in history (grades 6-8)?  If you are teaching the early grades, do you know what blocks you are teaching?  You can try sources such as the AWNSA chart or curriculums, but know that you need to adapt things for your seasons, your geographic area and YOUR CHILD.   Jot down what blocks you think you will do and how many of that block.  For example, in first grade how many language arts blocks, how many math blocks, how many form drawing and math blocks? In the upper grades, how many blocks of history or physics?  Do the blocks “make sense’’” for you, what you can do, your home environment?  This is especially important in the upper grades to think about.  This step may really take some time and thought and you may have several (or more) revisions.  I think I have switched around what blocks I am going to do in eighth grade and their order about twenty-five times right now, but I think I finally have it!

And a quick paradoxical note on the Waldorf World – it is always said to look at your child, your geographic location and adjust the curriculum for your circumstances. However, if you go too far off course, people will argue it is “not Waldorf”.  Conversely, if  you just follow along the pages of a curriculum, then some will deem that “not Waldorf”.  I have seen homeschoolers do really weird things and deem it “Waldorf” when it absolutely is not related to Waldorf education at all!.  I have seen homeschoolers really need to adapt things for their child or family and are afraid to do so.  Again, I think this is an area you get much more comfortable with over time and with experience.   Not everyone has the opportunity to do a Foundation Studies course or teacher training or even workshops, but those can help.  Reading Steiner is a must.  You have to understand why, developmentally,  why you are doing what you are doing and then you can choose to tweak it with that understanding! If you are inexperienced and need direction, you can talk to a Waldorf consultant.  Please just make sure it is a someone who has experience in Waldorf education!  Hopefully that someone has also had teacher training or at least Foundation Studies and subsequent workshops, and has had experience in actually not only homeschooling but also in  teaching groups of children that are not their own children for a length of time!

Tomorrow we will talk about what to do once you have decided what blocks you are teaching.

Many blessings,

“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

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,

Using Mainstream Math Resources for the Grades in the Waldorf Homeschooling Family


There has been some discussion within the Waldorf homeschooling community about when (or if)  to add in a mainstream math program  as supplementary practice for the Waldorf homeschooled child.  Homeschooling mothers often worry about daily practice in areas like math, especially if you live in a state where taking standardized tests or the possibility of your child attending public or private school is in the near future.   Here are a few of my thoughts and experiences about the mainstream programs folks are using and a few thoughts as to *how* to use some of these resources.  Mathematics in Waldorf Education has a developmental approach and often mainstream math programs do not share this same view so I think it behooves discussion and consideration in regards to how to add practice of math into the homeschool day.  I have included Making Math Meaningful and Math By Hand in this discussion, as I think they could be used no matter how one homeschools and these guides, while based in Waldorf Education, also seem to have an understanding of what is going in math education in all realms.


Grades One and Two:  I have seen Waldorf homeschooling parents use a mainstream math program in these grades, particularly if they were afraid they were going to have to put their child into public school at some point, or if they held allegiance to a particular math program (usually I see this in families who feel very loyal to Singapore or sometimes RightStart math from other homeschooling experiences).  However, I honestly don’t think you need a supplemental math program for these early grades where number sense is being developed.  Daily practice that you make up, along with the math blocks, should really be enough at this stage in my opinion so long as you are diligent with practice.  If you need a guide to this, please let me recommend Jamie York’s “Making Math Meaningful” for grades one through five (blue cover) and also the book “Games For Math” by Peggy Kaye. If you really feel as if you need “something else” in this stage, Math By Hand is a Waldorf-compatible resource that has some lovely hands-on kits to help you bring math in a visual way with certain activities and stories. Math By Hand runs first through fourth grades.  Continue reading

July: Time to Plan


Here in the Deep South, many homeschoolers will be starting school again in a few weeks.  I love this time of anticipation of fall, and am looking forward to heading back into some more rhythm.  The children seem ready as well, so we will continue to enjoy nature and all her summertime glory (and fall glory too, with camping and trips to the beach in the fall), but I am feeling more ready to get going!


I wanted to share with you some of my favorite resources for planning: 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:

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:


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