Where Do I Go Now?

What do you do when you realize your method of homeschooling has been more detrimental  than the goodness you thought it was bringing to your child? Or that your child just has tremendous imbalances between their body, their head, their social and emotional skills?   I am talking about parents of very,very bright children who were reading at age three fluently, the very smart child who is so incredibly “gifted”, the children who are so ahead of themselves and so logical…..

Until the parent begins to notice that this very bright child can relate to no one of his own age at all.  That the child has poor gross motor skills.  That the child is only drawn to books and textbooks and such.  That this child has very little creative ability, is very serious, has difficulty playing.  That the child seems very in their head, worried about adult things, in fact seems more like an adult than not…..

In my experience many of these children do  feel isolated, depressed, anxious – and they are still children and whether they can verbalize it or not, they are looking to you to take the lead, to make it better.  They are still small, they still need your protection.

And the parent is thinking now this child is 7,8 or 9, what to do, what to do?  Can Waldorf education help this child?

My first recommendation is this:  Call one of the national Waldorf consultants for a consultation.  This is important, because  sometimes you are dealing with an out of the ordinary situation, not just where the child is coming in late to Waldorf, which also may have its own challenges, but there may be therapeutic issues to be dealt with.   Here is the link with all the names of consultants I know:  https://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/01/03/waldorf-consultants/

My second recommendation is to look at yourself!  This will take hard work, change, motivation, being matter of fact and peaceful with your child as things change and they complain about the change!  Can you:

1. Stop talking and putting adult decision making on them?   Do not ask them if they want to “do Waldorf homeschooling.”  It is not their choice at this point.  They should have completely limited choices at this point on life issues.  They already have had enough pressure and the decision making process has worked on their psyche to the point where they are no longer children.  Help them reclaim their childhood by being the Authentic Leader in your home. You set the tone right now.

2.  Can you read some of Steiner and really penetrate what teaching first, second or third grade is  about?  What level these children are normally at in these grades in Waldorf? And there is more than academics at stake here – where are they gross motor wise, emotionally, socially, artistically, fine motor wise?     It is probably going to be very different than what you are used to.    Can you be okay with that while you take a year to heal and to shift toward balance?

3.  Can you be okay with balancing the child without the use of textbooks in these early grades, with the use of outside time, hiking, gardening, being in nature without identifying trees and bushes to death?  Woodworking, knitting, dyeing things, having an aquarium without all the plant and fish identification, having an art farm or worm farm, looking at the stars with the naked eye with Native American legends and stories as the backdrop would all be healing.  Apple picking, berry picking, making jelly, going to the zoo and aquarium (without writing reports or taking one of the those damned nature journals around with them to draw and identify everything by the latin name? just looking and being and seeing how those animals move), swimming, singing and jumping rope would all be very healing.

4.  Can you show them how to play by setting up stations for playing in your home?  Most eight year old girls still like to play with dolls.  Maybe your child has forgotten how to play!  Copious outside time will help.  Can you set up a woodworking bench, a knitting area, a sewing area, an area for art?  Can you work on some handwork yourself for an hour in the afternoons and set up that model, that expectation for your son or daughter?

5.  Think about warmth – less words, stop explaining, can you show your delight in your child WITHOUT words at all?  Smiles, hugs, fun!  Can you as a family go and have fun?  Hiking, ice skating, roller skating, picnics, – is this child’s seriousness coming from you?  This child is small and needs to be joyous!

6.  Think about early bedtimes, consistent meal and snack times with warm food.  Lots of fresh air and fresh unprocessed foods.

7.  Bring in stories to heal your child’s soul – fairy tales, legends, nature stories, stories from your childhood and from when your child was very, very small.  Lots of storytelling.  Remember, the academics in Waldorf can be adjusted to where your child is, but the stories for each grade is designed for the child’s soul development.  And while we would want to focus on what a child needs for that age, and not go backward, I see nothing wrong with lighting a candle and telling a fairy tale at night to a third grader!  Adults love fairy tales too!

8.  Can you bring in music?  The joy of having music as a family?  This is so important.

9. Can you make a big deal about preparing for festivals where school does not go on as usual?  Festival preparation is an integral part of life for the Early Grades child.

Your Waldorf consultant will have other suggestions based upon your child’s needs.  Waldorf is a healing method of education, but it takes commitment and a matter of fact peaceful kind of energy.

Peace and may goodness go with you,


9 thoughts on “Where Do I Go Now?

  1. Hi Carrie!!

    I just wanted to tell you how much I so enjoy your thoughts and all that you put into on your blog. I have not began homeschooling using the Waldorf method, but I am really in a season of investigating and taking a serious look into it.
    I am at such a loss as to where to even start… do you have ANY advice? I have a 9 year old girl, a 7 year old boy and a 4 year old girl. My son has special needs and is in a therapy program for them. I am hoping to have him home one day soon soon… but have been homeschooling my 2 girls.

    I am sooo ready for change and to try something completely different. We as a family, practice alot of what Waldorf encourages… lots of play, arts and crafts, music… early bedtimes, fresh meals and snacks… very little tv and media… I think we are heading in the right direction…

    Is there a book that you would suggest for a complete newbie??

    Thanks again for your heart and all that you share!


  2. Hhmm, I am so sorry Amy, I thought I answered you. I think if you have not read any of the foundational early years books such as “You Are Your Child’s First Teacher”, or “Heaven on Earth” that could be a great framework to start. As far as Steiner’s lectures himself, i think “Kingdom of Childhood” is pretty accessible as is “Education of the Child.”
    A 9 -year old would be in third grade according to Waldorf, and going through the nine- year change (a 10 year old would be in fourth grade) and your 4 year old wee one would be in Kindy until she is about six and a half. First grade usually starts at six and a half or seven. I guess I would try to learn about those grades for fall if that is where you are going to be.
    Sounds like you are doing a great job, and hopefully you can come back here with specific questions – I can address them individually or in a blog post.
    Are you on any of the national Waldorf yahoo groups such as Melisa Nielsen’s or Marsha Johnson’s?
    Those may be of service as well!

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  6. My son is eight years and a half years old and has been in a Waldorf school since he was four and a half. He’s currently in Grade 2. Music and mathematics come naturally to him – he can do numbers in his head with ease. He plays the violin and the recorder. About 4 months ago, he started stating that he was absolutely bored in school, that he was the first one to finish the sums and number work and had to wait while the teacher worked with the slower kids. They are not going beyond basic math in 2nd grade – addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, all done with smaller numbers – and he wants to work with bigger numbers and learn more like fractions, decimals, ratios, etc. He is limited to working with the basic 4 processes in class and that too with smaller numbers and this frustrates him immensely. He wants to gallop forward.

    We spoke with his teacher about him feeling not challenged enough and the teacher tried to help him by giving him puzzles and other things to occupy him while he waited for the other kids to finish their work. But that is not enough for my son, who is now strongly insisting he wants to join a mainstream school and learn as much as he wants, as fast as he wants. We want to respect and allow the child to make his own choices and choose the direction he wants to head in…but I also know the value of a slow, rich, deep, artistic Waldorf education.

    I’m at a loss…
    I don’t want him to feel “held back” and deny him any learning he seeks.
    But pulling him out of his Waldorf school feels like such a drastic step.

    I know he likes his teachers. No problems there.

    He also seems to be going through a bad patch of alienation from his school friends. They apparently are all into some kind of digging game that they exclude him from, and which he calls “childish” and has no real desire to join. He also has a few mainstream friends and I know he’s fascinated with having exams and tests and homework and being like everyone else he sees outside of his school.

    Could this be the conflicting dynamics of the looming nine year change? I could really use a few pointers to make sense of it all.

    Thanks for reading.

    • Mangala,
      I would love to see you post this on a wider forum of Waldorf School parents and get feedback. I, of course and like you, do think there is merit to the balancing of out a very head-oriented child with artistic pursuits and such, and it is very difficult to think about giving up a Waldorf education because we can see the healing potential of it for the human being within the duration of the curriculum. On the other hand, I have been around long enough to have seen schools and teachers that were not a good fit for some students and the student was much happier in a different setting. So hard and challenging. I think the friend end of it could stand some looking into; feeling alienated and being alienated is huge. It could be part of the nine year change or where he just feels different, but I do think it is fairly common. Many Waldorf schools are looking into and working with social inclusion programs at this point because this exclusion tactic by peers is so common; I would want to observe recess and everything else and see what really goes on…a Waldorf classroom and school is above all about fostering a community for a particular classroom of students, is it not? The wanting to be like everyone else in mainstream school I would probably take with a grain of salt; but I think that comment has more to do with the fact that he doesn’t feel as if he fits in or is wanted or connects with what the children are doing. I would want to know if in the classroom is there an area or opportunity where he is the leader and the children work together? If I were a teacher, I could think of many ways to work with this, and it sounds like you do have an open teacher who is trying. How do things stand now, since you wrote this? I know it must be so heartbreaking to see him in this…and so hard to make decisions.
      Feel free to email me at admin@theparentingpassageway.com if you want to talk more in private.. Blessings –

  7. Dear Carrie,
    Thanks so much for your thoughtful and empathic response. I did post my question on the mdc forum here

    He’s downright refusing to go back to his Waldorf school now. They have a 2 hour main lesson every morning, and apparently it’s torturous for him to just sit there doing baby stuff that the rest of the class is working on. He finishes early, and has to occupy himself with some puzzle he doesn’t want to do, and he seems to have had enough. He says, “Why do I go to school? To sit there and waste time and not learn anything? I want to learn intensively – one thing after another CONTINUOUSLY. I want to go to a regular school.”

    Summer holidays are currently on in our part of the world, and new grades will begin in June. We are exploring mainstream schools for our son, but none of them bring forth that resonant “yes” from my being. I have my own qualms about loosing him to the tender mercies of a regular school. With their cookie-cutter approach and standardised testing, they seem to make a commodity out of learning and take all the joy out of it.

    Child-led learning without the pressure of testing is where it’s at. We are exploring a Montessori school that might fit the bill but is notoriously hard to get into.

    I’m currently working with him at home to bring him up to speed, and wow, it’s a pleasure doing so. He’s so eager and interested and motivated. Don’t know if that will be nurtured in a regular mainstream school…. We’ll see how it all goes. All up in the air at this point other than the solid comforting fact that we’re working together and learning and it’s lovely 🙂

    Trusting something will come up and by June things will have taken shape. Or not. I don’t know. But I’m fine with it really – whatever happens, I’M there for him, and that’s all that really counts 🙂


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