The Need to Know

(I was going to wait until after the Holy Nights were over to publish this post, but then it occurred to me that some of you may be meditating on this very subject during this time.  I hope this helps someone out there……Here goes!)

How much do our under  age 7 children need to know about things going on in the family and life?  This can be such a delicate subject because it gets at the heart of how parents talk to and relate to their children, but I believe it to be an important one.  Please do take what works within this post for you and your family and what resonates inside of you from this writing.  You know your family and children best, but I thought some of you may be curious to how Waldorf views this subject.

According to Steiner’s views of  the seven year cycles, a child under the age of 7 should be in their bodies, and in a rather dreamy state.  You would not want to do things in this period that would call the child’s attention to himself or to promote having a child think in a grown-up way.  The child should be immersed in feelings of warmth and delight by the parent, but not so many words.

How much we tell a child, how much we explain to a child,  and how we answer things can be part of what leads to premature intellectualization, premature analytical ability, and essentially putting the cart before the horse as we use discipline tools that are beyond the child’s developmental maturity level.  A three or four year old cannot reason, and they cannot put themselves in someone else’s shoes.  They need to have gentle discipline methods that reflect this reality.  They can certainly learn all the words that you say, and how to answer back “correctly” and play a very verbal game with you,  but this is NOT the same as truly being able to internalize and rationalize. The ability to do this really does not come in until the child is of age 14 or so, according to Steiner.    If you have a child who you think can do this at such any early age, I would argue that this child is 1. very verbal, but perhaps is not as advanced as you think and cannot understand the ramifications of things the way an adult does and 2. if the child is trying to do all this verbally with you, the child has been intellectualized too early and it is your job as the parent to bring this child back into balance.  More on that in just a moment.

Why do we get ourselves into this difficulty in the first place?  This is just a hard shift for many attached parents, especially with the first child.  After all, many attached children are just “always there, always around”, (and if you are co-sleeping they are even there at night!)    There is not much time without the child to work on or talk about grown-up things.  Furthermore, many attached parents have had to work so hard to surrender themselves to being an attached parent, to learning how to read an infant’s cues and how to breastfeed according to these cues, that they have difficulty not carrying this surrender over into other areas.  Breastfeeding and co-sleeping with a small child under the age of 3 is a wonderful, opening experience in which the mother and child almost seem as one.  The mother grows to feel her child is an extension and a part of her.  According to Waldorf, all small children under the age of 7 are under an extension of their mother’s etheric “Madonna Cloak” – in essence, sharing their mother’s energy and life forces, for lack of a better description.   Donna Simmons has more information about this notion here:

However, as a child heads past the age of  three, more boundaries need to be in place.  The child, at least according to Waldorf tradition, does not need to be privy to adult conversation and adult topics.  The child under the age of 7 does not need to know everything going on with you and your life.  The child under the age of 7 does not need to see how the adult decision-making process works.  They do not need all the answers to their questions in adult terms, even simple adult terms, and they certainly do not need your adult views and baggage. Let them dream and come up with their own fantastical answers!This comes up all the time within Waldorf – but children simply do not view things through the adult veil and experiences in which you view them.  Things in life can co-exist in many improbable ways for the small child that would be impossible for the adult.  This is developmentally normal, and please do not try to rush your child into adult logical thinking. Enjoy this stage with the wonder that your child has for life! 

If you have a child who has been intellectualized early, it will make integration into the Waldorf curriculum harder.  The child will have a tendency to take the fairy tales, the heart of the Waldorf kindergarten and first grade, very literally and with great difficulty.  The child will have difficulty accepting less explanation and will have difficulty coming up with their own explanation – they will be looking for the “right” answer, instead of being able to be an out of the box problem solver and imaginative person.  This will become an impeding factor in science and later for such subjects as creative writing.  But most of all, you are setting yourself up for very rocky teenaged years if you cannot let your child be a child when they are under the age of seven!

If this is what has happened to your child and you would like to change this, (and it is not too late, even for a child that is seven or eight!)  here are some suggestions:

  • Get rid of all media exposure for awhile. 
  • Do not discuss world events and household affairs in front of this child. Do not discuss the happenings of your child’s friends and their families with your child unless it is a small, happy, warm event that can be described in a sentence or two.   Your child should be in a dreamy state.  There will be plenty of time to know about these things, and about people and events.  The child should know that the world and the people in it are good.  Do your own inner work if you cannot believe this, because this is YOUR baggage, not your child’s thing to carry around.
  • Stop any back and forth bantering you do with your child.  Just. Stop. It.  These verbal games are not appropriate to play with a small child.
  • A child under the age of 7 can be told things pretty much right before they are going to happen, or you can use your daily, weekly rhythm to carry what events are going to happen.
  • This child does not need a myriad of choices when recovering from early intellectualization; they don’t need to think all the time – this is your job.
  • They do not need to have all their “why’s” answered – hum, a warm smile, a hug, a very simple statement is all that is needed – and to move on to practical work and involve them in that.  Don’t you ever remember being told when you were little, “We will talk about that when you are older?”  We vowed as parents to never do that to our children, but guess what, there was common sense in that for some situations!  Let your child tell you their own explanation for something – answer their why with “Hmm, I wonder about that too. ”  Guaranteed they will come up with something creative and wonderful and free of adult baggage and gray-ness.  They live in a world of black and white, and a world of fantasy where things co-exist; this is normal developmentally.  They should not live in gray-ness, in the land of seeing all the exceptions to the rule.
  • Use your songs and verses to announce what is going on next.
  • If your child is asking for “something to do”, get something out and start playing with it – without words!
  • This child needs to be outside in nature for hours a day without you explaining everything to the child about nature and why the leaves turn yellow and brown.  Let them be!  Let them come up with their own names of animals, and their own explanations! Joseph Cornell, in his wonderful book “Sharing Nature With Children” (and yes, this one absolutely should be on your bookshelf!) says this:

Don’t feel badly about not knowing names.  The names of plants and animals are only superficial labels for what those things really are.  Just as your own essence isn’t captured by your name, or even by your physical and personality traits, there is also much more to an oak tree, for example, than a name and a list of facts about it.  You can gain a deeper appreciation of an oak tree by watching how the tree’s mood shifts with changes in lighting at different times of day.  Observe the tree from unusual perspectives. Feel and smell its bark and leaves.  Quietly sit on or under its branches, and be aware of all the forms of life that live in and around the tree and depend on it.

This, my friends, is the heart of not only nature education at its best, but of Waldorf education and the way to relate to small children under the age of 7 who are one with everything in the world.

  • Think about the concept of warmth with this child – warm foods, warm foot baths, warm beds, candlelight, warm thoughts.
  • Provide liberal doses of oral storytelling and simple made up stories.
  • Provide lots of experiences with baking, gardening, wet on wet watercolor painting, and imaginative play all through story and song, not verbally oriented instructions.
  • If your child is doing something that you do not like, if it is at all possible, involve the child in practical work.  If it involves an item, gently take the item away without words and then  immediately involve the child in practical work!  This does not mean to IGNORE the behavior, but to have the child make restitution later with their hands or their bodies (but do not intellectualize it for them).  A simple sentence is all that is needed!
  • If your child balks at the new rhythm, the new way of doing things, so be it for right now.  This is important, and you have to be the one to carry this one.  Your child will quickly adapt and be better for it –  a better problem solver, a better imaginative thinker down the road, a more reverent and observant person, a better listener.  You do not have to explain why you  are not explaining anymore, LOL!
  • The work for you in this period is to stop talking to your child so much about everything!  Get some time with other adults for you, and stop putting your child into the adult role.  Do your own inner work and see how you can bring the joy, humor, fun and warmth back to this little being.  The other work for you is to find out about normal childhood development.  Many parents are amazed when they read books such as the Gesell Institute books ‘Your Three Year Old”, “Your Four Year Old”, how children really do typically view things such as pregnancy, death.  They realize their totally verbal child actually understands much less than they originally thought!

I know this is so hard, but if you have ever wondered why your child speaks to you like they are a grown up, if you have ever wondered why your child asks why constantly, if you have every wondered why your child takes every single story so literally, try this plan for eight weeks and see what happens.  You may have a different child on your hands at the end of eight weeks!

And lest you be worried this will somehow stunt their maturity or developmental growth, let me assure you you will only be putting them back on track, back into where they should be….And when they are seven, or even nine and closer to the age of separation of themselves from the world, the parents and the plants and animals, then you start answering all the questions.  There is a time to answer questions!  There is a time to move forward!

However, protection is developmentally appropriate and normal and right for a under 7 aged child.  They are not miniature adults with less experience. Honor that within this first seven year cycle.  If you are interested in Waldorf, you most likely are not the type of parent to let them watch 15 hours of TV straight, or eat chocolate all day long (um, except for holiday cookies? ha ha), or stay up all night.  Just as you would safeguard against those physical things, you as the parent are now learning how to safeguard their imagination, their innocence, their problem-solving ability and their future adult physical health.

Please consider trying this plan, and do let me know how it goes.  And again, please take what works for you from this post.  You may agree, you may disagree but thanks for reading!  You can leave a comment below.

Just a few thoughts from my little corner of the world.

A Happy New Year’s Wish

May love and laughter light your days,
and warm your heart and home.
May good and faithful friends be yours,
wherever you may roam.
May peace and plenty bless your world
with joy that long endures.
May all life’s passing seasons
bring the best to you and yours.

From an Old Irish Blessing, author unknown.

Happy New Year to you and your family!

Just a few thoughts from my little corner of the world.

For Parents of the Five to Seven Year Old

Melisa Nielsen over at A Little Garden Flower wrote a great response with some practical ideas to those of you starting to deal with the six and seven year old transformation (and there is a nice link to this blog in that post!  Thanks Melisa!)

Read and enjoy, I will have more to say about this important stage of childhood development after The Holy Nights are over.

Just a few thoughts from my little corner of the world.

The Holy Nights

Happy Holidays to everyone!  I wanted to take this opportunity to address the time fast approaching us,  that time between Christmas Day and Epiphany, referred to by many as the Twelve Days of Christmas or The Holy Nights.  This is a very introspective and meditative time for me.  You can read Rudolf Steiner’s views of The Holy Nights  here:

The Holy Nights is a time when I dream and plan for the coming year.  It is a time where I really look at how homeschooling is going, and what things we still need to accomplish in the rest of our year (We school September through June, with July and and August off for my oldest – my youngest most likely will run January through June and then September through December for her school year once she is at the age to do grades).

Do you have plans for your homeschool for the coming year?  Some of the things I am thinking and meditating on is bringing more puppetry into our homeschool, and also how many days a week I should be bringing in handwork.  I also look at my own personal goals in regards to homeschool  – what do I need to learn for the grade that is upcoming?  What areas do I need to work on and refine my skills in?

I also use this time to look at my own personal goals for the coming year.  Many of you know from previous posts that I have worked with the mantra of being easy with myself and others for several years now.  I will continue to do that but now I am also looking at the concept of “letting go.”  I will use the Holy Nights to look at my inner work and how that is progressing.  How I communicate with others is also of great importance, so I hope to have a little extra time each day of The Holy Nights in order to check out NVC Academy (there is a post about that on this blog you can see to access the link).

Do you have personal goals or things you would like to work on this year?  Another website someone passed on to me that I have not had a chance to get out is this one regarding Radical Forgiveness: .  Whatever the thing you would like to work on this year, the Holy Nights is a wonderful time to ponder how you will put this desire into action in the coming year.

The other thing I would like to accomplish during these days is a bit more reading of Steiner’s lectures, which are always inspiring to me.

The above encapsulates the kind of work I will be doing during this time.  The kids will be working on a play for Epiphany, and of course we will be clearing all the greenery out of our house, and changing the Nature Table to include King Winter. (although our straw Christmas star will stay suspended over the table until Candlemas on February 2nd).  And of course we are all looking forward to the little cake with a crown and a bean baked inside for Epiphany!  I am also planning on making puppets for the tale “The Snow Maiden” from the little book “Plays for Puppets” for our January puppet show.  For my first grader, we will then be starting with a week of form drawing and then a block on the four seasons, the four elements and the twelve months of the year for the rest of January before diving back into language arts through the fairy tales and the four math processes.  My kindergartner will be working on a circle related to Winter and on a few stories related to animals in Winter.

So, dear reader, you may not see as many posts here until after Epiphany is over (January 6).  But please do be assured I have lots of ideas for wonderful posts regarding Waldorf homeschooling, gentle discipline and whatever topics you would like me to address!  Please do let me know what you would like to talk about on this blog in the comment section. 

I appreciate the fast readership this blog has gained in such a short amount of time.  Thank you for passing my posts and this site on to your family and friends.  I hope you and your family are having a wonderful holiday season and I wish you the happiest of New Year’s.

See you in 2009!

Just a few thoughts from my little corner of the world.

New Math Book for Grades Kindergarten-5

Have you all heard that Melisa Nielsen of A Little Garden Flower ( has come out with a brand-new math book called “A Journey Through Waldorf Math” and it actually covers Kindergarten through Grade 5.  The price for math for all this is only $38.50 for the hard printed copy and $25 for the ebook version.  This is a steal!!  To order, see her store at and to see a review please the blog LoveyLand.  There is a detailed review you can access at this link:  Be forewarned, though, you will be completely intrigued by the Waldorf approach to math, you will want to look at the samples on Melisa’s site and you will want to watch the math video she has up on her site and then  you will want this book!

Don’t say I didn’t warn you!!

Just a few thoughts from my little corner of the world.

How to Handle Potty Talk In Small Children

I have had several moms ask me lately how to handle potty talk and/or repeated belching  that sometimes accompanies rough playing or just takes over any creative playing. This post is specifically addressed for both a child under 7 and a child over 7.  So, without further ado, here are a few thoughts in no particular order.  Please take what resonates with you and your family.  These thoughts come from a Waldorf perspective, but would also fit in well with parents who are practicing gentle discipline.

1. Penis talk and potty talk belongs in the bathroom, so when it starts just calmly take the children by the hand and walk them to the bathroom and tell them this is the room where those words belong and to come out when they are done.  The same really goes for the repeated belching that some children think is funny.

2.   When penis and potty talk abounds, another tactic might be to just  the change the scene – start singing a song, get out a book and start reading aloud, start building a block tower and they will run to join you.  Then at bedtime, address this with your child who is over seven year that those actions belong in the bathroom and he is a model for his younger sibling.  Don’t over-talk it, over-explain it, guilt your child.  You can just say, “I know your mouth forgot what it was doing, but those words belong in the bathroom.”  

3. If the belching and penis talk is just because the children are ramped up and running around with all kinds of energy, bring them their shoes and coats and tell them to go outside or take them from a walk.  Also, I think it is easy to stay in more now that the weather is a bit colder and we forget these are the same children that are running around or swimming for five hours a day in the summer.  That physical energy is still there!  A mini-trampoline for inside can be a lifesaver as can building forts out of cushions and pillows.

4. Keep surrounding them with peaceful energy, but do address the behavior calmly and guide it.

5. The other thought is how does your husband feel this should be addressed?  Does he address it if the children do it when he is around?  It may mean more coming from him, an adult male,  as well to talk about this and manners in front of other people, especially Mommies that we need to show respect for.  Everyone in the family should be treated with respect and dignity.

I also would look to things and activities that would involve a strong, nice male authority if you can find that in your community.

6.  This is kind of a technique from my pediatric physical therapy days, but sometimes just walking up to them in the  height of this kind of talk or play and placing your hand on their shoulder seems to ground them and shift the energy.

8. Sometimes you can just say, “You  may find something else to do.”   Take the little one with you into the kitchen to peel something and before you know it, the energy has shifted and off they go to some kind of meaningful play.

9. My last thought was maybe they need you to go through their toys and re-arrange or rotate out toys and put ones out they have not seen in awhile.  Sometimes that alone is enough to get them out of a rut where they do not know what to play and end up with penis talk, belching, etc.

10. If this is occurring around the holidays and you feel they are just really over-stimulated and having a hard time figuring out what to do without escalating out of control, really try to stick to some kind of rhythm and really involve them in your work while they recover.

11. Consider warmth – warming foods, candle light, soups and stews and teas with honey, warm baths, foot baths….warmth is so calming when you feel like spiraling out of control.

Part of living in a family means setting loving boundaries that everyone can live with and feel comfortable with.

Four and six years old can definitely be a height of bathroom humor, etc.  If you have a younger child, is the younger child  typically the one starting it?  I guess if this was being started  by the younger child, I would have some kind of rhythmical activity at the ready.  “I need your help to card all this wool.” (Wind this ball of yarn, grate this carrot, sift this flour, knead this bread, whatever). 

With repeated belching, imitation is also important so perhaps the first time the child  belched I might say, “Oh, excuse you.” And if he did it repeatedly  then I would just take him by the hand to the bathroom or I would get him involved in something right next to me.   The good thing about a four year old is hopefully the child  is distractible with fantasy and movement so even just saying to the child, “Wow, that was a big burp horsie” and involving him in  a big story/play about being a horse from that point may move the child onto other things. 

If this sort of play or talk  is happening during the time the children are supposed to be free  playing, I would take it as a sign they need help and guidance in finding something to do, and would either set up a play scene before they are to play,  or work on setting one up the night before so they can find it when they wake up, or seriously go toward taking them outside.

Just a few thoughts from my little corner of the world.

The Seven to Fourteen Year Old

There is a time to treat children one way in Waldorf, and there is a time to adjust how you treat your children as they grow older.  This is part of the Waldorf way and view of childhood development.  The hallmarks of the early years are repetition, reverence, imitation and modeling, less words, protection of the child. 

Now I would like you to read what Steiner said about the seven to fourteen year old in the lectures compiled in “The Education of the Child”:  “The development of the ether body occurs in the period from the seventh year until the sixteenth year in boys, and until the fourteenth year in girls.  It is important for the rest of a person’s life that feeling of respect and veneration are fostered  during this period…..People around the children, with whom they have contact, must be their ideals; children must also choose such ideals from history and literature……This is the age when memory, habit and character must be established, and this is achieved through authority.  If the foundation of these traits is not laid during this period, it will result in behavioral shortcomings later. “

Steiner goes on to talk about what things influence the ether body – he discusses things that “promotes feelings of health and vigor” – he cites gymnastics (not the typical gymnastics, these gymnastics were a series of specially created exercises), art – especially vocal and instrumental music,  and “most important of all is religious instruction.  Images of things supersensible are deeply imprinted in the ether body.”

Steiner said, “The task to fulfill between the ages of seven and fourteen is to create a basic set of habits and to stimulate memory development…..We form a strong memory, not by explaining all the “whys” and “wherefores”, but through authority.”    He  page 151 of the lectures compiled in “Soul Economy”:  “This sense for authority in children between the change of teeth and puberty must be respected and nurtured, because it represents an inborn need at this age.  Before one can use freedom appropriately  in later life, one must have experienced shy reverence and a feeling for adult authority between the change of teeth and puberty.”

He also goes on to say that while imitation and example are the hallmark of the early years, the years of 7 to 14 are for discipleship and authority.  Note Steiner does not say this is the age for reasoning either, because logical thought does not come in until around the age of 14 years or older.

As part of your Holy Nights meditation, meditate and ponder on this: Am I using the right tools for my child, based upon their age?  Should their world be still completely closed or should it be opening up a bit? Am I putting the cart before the horse by using more grown-up tools with my four year old?  Am I instilling reverence and authority in my ten year old?  How am I doing, and what do I  need to do to feed my child’s soul?

Just a few thoughts from my little corner of the world.

Why Waldorf Makes Sense – In Kids’ Own Words

On m daughter’s birthday,  I opened up the newspaper and there was an editorial entitled, “Why teens don’t read:  English teachers ruin it”  ( I think it was a little gift to me, little signs along the path that confirm things for me, LOL).

And part of this article really caught my eye and I want to share it with you all.

(The fast background to the writing below is the statement in the editorial that says,  “The percentage of 17 year olds who read nothing at all for pleasure has doubled in the past 20 years).  So glad our educational system is encouraging strong readers who love to read. 

This editorial, written by a high school AP English teacher, states:

“Every June, when I asked my students at a previous school to write about a favorite book of the year, they mostly gushed over two: J.D. Salinger’s “Catcher in the Rye” and F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby.” For years, “Catcher” was my successful icebreaker for my juniors. 

      So imagine my dismay when “Catcher” was demoted to the eighth or ninth grade.  Apparently it wasn’t sophisticated enough for 11th-graders.  That many 17-year-olds identify powerfully with Salinger’s 17-year-old protagonist was a fact cast by the wayside.

      But here’s what a former student wrote about this book, “To my 12-year-old self, the book didn’t seem to move anywhere.  I didn’t understand why Holden couldn’t just try a little harder at school.  By tenth grade, I had been drunk for the first time.  I knew rebellion against my parents, the fakeness of social interaction.  As a reader in the eleventh grade, I grew close to Holden; he was a friend who understood me.”

       In adults’ determination to create sophisticated teen readers, we sever them from potential fictional soul mates.”

While I don’t necessarily agree with the adult experiences this tenth grader was having (!), I do understand the thought that books that come along after you have experienced life can make more sense.  Why we are trying to shove sophisticated literature down a child’s throat when they have had no experiences to even relate to it, they are not close to the age of the protagonist, is just beyond me and I feel is a symptom of our education process in which doing everything early is better.

To me, this was really a supportive editorial for Waldorf education, as Waldorf  looks at everything in relation to soul development of the child and what the child will be like as an adult.  A six year old is still a kindergartener.  A third grader going through the nine year change needs to build houses, a home for himself on Earth, and learn about the Old Testament laws as an example of authority relationships.  A fifth grader in symmetry needs to look at the symmetry in nature of plants and the Greeks…..It goes on and on.

I don’t understand why Waldorf education is not much more prevalent when it makes so much sense.

Just a few thoughts from my little corner of the world.

The Healing Art of Puppetry

Puppetry is one of the things that Steiner felt was so healing for children (and I think it is healing for  adults as well, look how entranced we all become when we go to the Waldorf holiday faires and see those beautiful archetypal images in the puppet shows?).  Puppetry, to me,  is something that is so over-looked most of the time, and can have such a dramatic impact on your storytelling for your children.

The first resource I think of regarding Waldorf puppetry is the wonderful Suzanne Down’s website at  She has a wonderful newsletter that comes out with a seasonal story and a puppetry idea.  She has three books out: Autumn Tales, Spring Tales and a puppetry around the world kind of book.  I have all of them and love them.  These gentle seasonal tales are just right for children under the age of 7, especially for the children who love nature.    You can get these books through Suzanne, and also  through the Rudolf Steiner College Bookstore.  Suzanne also has wonderful wool roving and puppetry kits that are worth ordering from her and waiting for!  It is my dream to do some longer puppetry workshops with her.  I did take a workshop with her the last time she was here in town and it was so wonderful!

There are two other resources I really like for puppetry – one is the little booklet “Plays for Puppets” , which is a little book of typical Waldorf puppet plays and the other is  Christel Dhom’s “Making Magical Fairy-Tale Puppets.”  Also, the book “Toymaking with Children” has extensive instructions for making simple silk marionettes and simple marionettes for children to use.

You can use a silk on your lap for a  simple puppetry stage like Suzanne Down and many Waldorf Kindergarten teachers do, but honestly I would eventually like to have a small platform stage built with some mountains cut out of plywood attached to the back (that way I could throw silks over them or they could be mountains) for my own home puppet shows.   ( Uh, doesn’t every Waldorf household want one of these? LOL).

I also think a very indispensible part of puppetry is music, and I love the little book “Plays for Puppets” because most of those plays do feature music that comes into the story.  The music, along with the veils of color  the silks provide, is very important in its work for the child’s soul.

As you head into the contemplation that The Holy Nights gives us all as a gift, consider how you might bring more puppetry into your circle times, your verses and songs and your stories.  The feeding of your child’s soul is well worth this effort.

Perhaps you can come along with me and what I am doing in the New Year.  I am going to work toward making the puppets for “The Snow Maiden” from “Plays for Puppets” to put on at  the end of January.  Many of you probably know this Russian tale of the older childless couple who receives a snow daughter for a bit of time, a wonderful tale perfect for these long days of winter.

Just a few thoughts from my little corner of the world.

Planning For Your Waldorf Homeschooling Adventure

This post is for people who are planning for adventures in Waldorf Grades One through Eight with their children, children who are aged seven and older. If your child is under the age of seven, please do hit “rhythm” and those sorts of tags in the tag box on the right hand side of this page and start there.  There are also some separate posts on Waldorf Kindergarten on this blog that may be of interest to you.

Onward to the parents of grade-school children… Mel  over at  and I were talking about the necessity of planning when you are a Waldorf homeschooling mother.  The Waldorf curriculum is very multi-layered, and very hands-on with skills that you will need to master ahead of time so you can show your child.  It seems that many people within the Waldorf community these days want a pre-planned, pre-done curriculum – you know, the open and go kind of thing.   I too, adore an open and go kind of thing!  The only thing I can share, however, is that my open and go curriculum is created by myself.  I believe this is a great privilege of homeschooling that I can create and use stories that will speak specifically to my child’s strengths and weaknesses and to our family’s values.   I do have many  different books, websites and Steiner’s lectures to draw on, and I start planning early so I have time to read everything I want and digest it and meditate on it and then create my own product.  In order to do this, I have to start early…I am reading second grade material now in order to be ready with a finished second grade curriculum by September 2009.

I first take a calendar and look at the 180 days we need in our state to fulfill homeschooling law.  I mark in when our vacations may be if I know that, and I also take note of each festival and count back anywhere from 1 to 3 weeks in order to start mapping out festival preparations.  I have a separate binder for festivals that has many recipes, plays, verses and craft ideas I have collected and have ordered by festival and date of the year.  This gives me a good jumping off point so I can plan what we will do each day leading up to a festival day.

Then I take a moment to dream, to really look at the big picture for the grade and what that grade means to me.  I go back to Steiner’s lectures and read about what he says for each grade and some of the indications he gives for teaching different subjects and try to get to the heart of the matterThis is very important as many mothers who would like to homeschool using Waldorf methods have never actually read a lecture by Steiner. Please do, it will add such dimension and clarity to your understanding of the grades and your teaching.    I think about and create goals for my children based not only on all academic areas, but also in areas such as social, character development, religious/spiritual goals, practical life, music, handwork, art,  and foreign languages.  I write those down, and  I also create goals for myself of things I want to learn and work on, and write those down.

Then  I plan out the sequence of blocks and how that might flow best throughout the year – for example, I like to start with a month of form drawing so I usually start there but then I need to map out how many math blocks, how many language arts blocks, how many science blocks.  I decide on the blocks and on what main things I would like to bring to my child.  Remember, Steiner said in one of his lectures in the book “Soul Economy”, that “The aim of Waldorf education is to arrange all of the teaching so that within the shortest possible time the maximum amount of material can be presented to students by the simplest means possible.”  This means that you are choosing things for each block to light your child’s imagination and interest, you are choosing the events that best represent a historical time period, you are choosing the most important and wonderful things your child needs to know about this subject and presenting them in an active, no textbook kind of manner.

Then I take each individual block and start writing lesson plans for each day around our daily rhythm and the notion of Head, Heart, and Hands.  Head is  Circle and Main Lesson Work.  Heart is typically outside time, hiking, wet on wet watercolor painting, music, drawing, or when our tutors come for foreign language teaching.  Hands is typically our practical everyday work (baking, gardening, etc) and handwork.  I especially look for what is the ACTIVE part of each lesson, what is the piece I can pull out to really inspire my child and make her just be enthralled with this subject? 

I also look at the three day rhythm where Waldorf education uses the aid of sleep to really learn.  For example, if I tell a story in Grade One about one of the math gnomes, then we may sleep on it after the introduction.  The next day we will re-visit the story and then  paint, draw or model something from the story and play math games in a physical manner about whatever math process the story was about.  The third day we re-visit the same story again, and provide more practice with math and then draw problems in our main lesson book and a picture of the math sign (plus,  minus, times, division sign) – this is the academic piece that is always brought in on the third day.  You can fit in another three day rhythm for the week if you introduce a story after this work is done on the third day.

So I keep all that in mind and just write day by day until the month is done.

Once the yearly plan is in my computer by month, it is easy enough to adjust it if something comes up and we need to miss a day.  I try to schedule a reasonable amount of work for each day so there is plenty of time for play, dreaming and so if we do miss a day we can easily make it up.  I am still in the early grades and consider this to be very important that these early grades are the bridge to greater academic work and excellence later on..  I know this will shift about third grade or so.

At the start of every block during the school year, I review the plans and make sure I have all the materials I need and make sure it all still will speak to my child.  I have time to be able to tweak it as needed because I did it ahead of time.

I would love to hear how other folks plan, how far ahead you plan, what works best for you.

Just a few thoughts from my little corner of the world.