From Reading To Action: “Waldorf Education in Practice”

Chapter XI talks about how “image” is the heart of Waldorf Education in practice. For the seven to fourteen year old child IMAGE is the most powerful and important tool for education.  We use images to help children grow towards a fruitful and responsible adulthood, and it all begins with images.

A good image brings forth the senses; doing this search for an image and a story to go with that image is great and important work for the teacher.  We must learn to listen to our sense impressions.  We must learn how to pick images and use them.  We often do this through the idea of polarities.  The author gives the example of choosing plants that are polar opposites – rose and lily, holly and ivy, and see what arises in doing exercises with those images.

In the seven to fourteen year old we are looking to develop Continue reading

Making Peace With Developmental “Spurts”

In infants, we often talk about “growth spurts”.  These usually occur, in infants, at the age of 3-10 days, between 3-6 weeks, between 2-4 months, and at 6 and 9 months of age.  The exact timetable is up to the infant.  During these periods, the infant may wake more for reassurance, may stool and urinate more frequently, may grow in size/length/developmental ability, may need very frequent feeding and the infant has a higher need to be cuddled and loved.

We often talk about this in connection with babies.  What our society talks about less frequently is developmental “spurts” in older children.  The Gesell Institute talks about periods of equilibrium and disequilibrium that continue from infancy into adulthood.  Every year in your parenting, there will be stages of equilibrium and disequilibrium.

Often the “symptoms” look the same – the need to eat and sleep more, possibly with more waking in children younger than 10, the growth and change in developmental ability (often AFTER the growth is complete…many children are more “clumsy” when they have had a sudden spurt in growth), and the child may need more emotional connection and nurturing.

It is a complete fallacy of our society, a fall-out of children becoming miniature adults in our society, that we tend to view four and five year olds almost as adults with adult regulation skills.  We often forget children are Continue reading

Wrap Up of Weeks Sixteen and Seventeen 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 weeks fourteen and fifteen 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.

Kindergarten:  We have been doing a wonderful morning circle journey about King Winter (which turned a little ironic this week when we had two 65 degree days!).  Our story is still Suzanne Down’s January story about “Old Gnome and Jack Frost” which is always a delight to our five year old.  There has been quite a bit of painting, making snowflakes and cutting and pasting, playing and baking and tissue paper kinds of crafts.  “Earthways” has great detailed instructions if you are looking for something like that for your little one.

Fourth Grade:  Continue reading

Waldorf Homeschooling: An Independent Daughter Movement?

If the platform of  Steiner’s spiritual  work is seen as the “Mother” and the  “daughter” movements are such practical outreach movements as biodynamic agriculture, curative education, anthroposophic medicine, and Waldorf Education in the Waldorf Schools, I think the explosive growth of Waldorf homeschooling has left some of us wondering if Waldorf homeschooling is an independent daughter movement in its own right, not just something  “under” the Waldorf School?

As homeschoolers, we  often hear how the Waldorf School cannot be replicated in the home environment, but yet the Waldorf Schools give us the ideas of curriculum and implementation.  Unfortunately, first time Waldorf homeschoolers are often concerned about following the curriculum created for the school environment as closely as possible and often drive themselves crazy trying to do this as a parent with no teacher training and no specialized staff – and in the process ignore the way the curriculum could be implemented in the home for the benefit of the development of the child and family..  Steiner was the first to believe that a classroom should be adapted to the place and time in which one lived; therefore a classroom in Germany in one region would look different than a classroom in southeastern America.  Why do we act as if the homeschool environment should be  the same as a generic “model” classroom when this is not what Steiner even wanted for the school environment?

I recently found a link about the differences between the Waldorf School and the Montessori method and was struck by something Continue reading

“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

Peace In An Ordered Home

There are many sayings to the effect of you can have happy children or a clean home but not both.  I think there is some truth in that in a small way.  Right now, I have gymnastics mats that have been made into a large track circling my kitchen counter and the children run “P.E classes” all day on and off complete with laps and push ups and sit ups.  Eventually the mats will have to be cleaned up so I can mop my floor, but I can live with it for a few days.  There is a 2000 piece puzzle on my dining room table that most likely will sit there for some days.  However, the rest of the house is clean and tidy.  The laundry is done and folded and put away.  We have food in the refrigerator and I know what we are going to make for our meals.

This is for me.  An ordered home that reflects beauty and peace mirrors how I feel inside.  I am a very visual person, and therefore I find that for me, it is easier on me to keep my home clean and orderly for my own mental health.  When everything is strewn everywhere and dirty, I cannot focus on anything else.  I live here all day, and it has to reflect a certain something of myself and what we value as a family.  We value love, and one way we love and nourish each other is to have a home that is livable, where food and clean clothes and cleanliness is apparent.

There has been some studies that suggest cluttered homes actually equate with depression and that clutter in and of itself can make us feel more anxious.

I have come to the conclusion after many years of homemaking, that the foundation of parenting (and homeschooling) is homemaking.  It may be tiresome to Continue reading

From Reading To Action: “Waldorf Education in Practice” and Our Next Book!

We are up to Chapter 9, “Math”.  This chapter gives great ideas for practice during the first number block of first grade.  The author recommends counting a long a number line and seeing a number as an entity by itself as the beginning, fundamental capacity of math.  Else Gottgens talks about the importance of speaking and moving, standing still and speaking and finally writing from memory, and then reading back aloud what has been written.  She gives many ideas for counting and working with individual numbers and working from whole to parts and parts to whole.  She also addresses estimation, and how to “structure” a number, the decimal system, and the times tables.  Learning times tables in grade 2 is a major undertaking, and then being able to recite the time tables out of order, randomly, is a task for grade 3.  There is also a wonderful table of math capacities that need to be developed from grade 1 onward, along with typical challenges for these capacities.

Chapter 10 discusses “Play-Acting”.  Putting on a play with a group is important for developing clear speech, meaningful gesture, enhancing spatial orientation and hearing what the other actor is speaking and reacting to it.  Drama also assists children in having more self-confidence, communicating better socially, gaining help in thinking more clearly, and helping children become better spellers.  It is also an excellent way to strengthen the will as the children work with a play for an extended period of time.  Continue reading