If there is ONE thing I wish I could tell mothers about Waldorf Education in the Home, especially for those mothers whose OLDEST child is under the age of 9, is to keep it simple! Mothers really, really overwhelm themselves much of the time. I have been speaking with four separate mothers recently who feel completely overwhelmed even with a prepared curriculum that they bought!
You really don’t have to be an expert in every single thing to start with!
If your oldest child is under 9 and you have multiple children, please do relax. And maybe here is where the intersection of Waldorf and Unschooling appears a bit more….I think it is okay if your children are playing well and you don’t stop them and gather them for school right away. I think it is okay to take days on end and cook and bake for Christmas. I think it is okay if your children spend hours playing in the woods. If you have multiple children under the age of 9, hey have energy to burn and need the doing. Yes, they need rhythm as balance, but there is also an energy to the cycles of the year that comes out as well. As they grow older though, hopefully you (and they) will buckle down and get to work, There is something about cultivating perseverance in our children that is especially important in our “instant happiness and success without any work” society.
Use your younger ones’ nap periods to do the more formal stuff. When it gets really crazy with the younger ones, take everyone outside and school outside. Cut back at times when you need to and don’t worry about doing much more than the Gathering Time (be it a Circle Time, Verses and a poem to memorize, active and mental math) and your Main Lesson. Yes, you can paint and cook and bake as part of your Main Lesson as the “doing” part in this holistic educational art, but if you are trying to bring this as a separate Middle Lesson and it is all making yourself feel crazy, why not let it rest for awhile? Bring some handwork in during the afternoons, and get outside.
So before you decide you can’t do Waldorf because you are overwhelmed by it (because in the beginning you want to do it all and do it all right and perfectly), please consider this: you are going to teach Language Arts, Math, Science, Social Studies anyway, so why not bring it through the most “economical” way – Waldorf Education? Why not bring it in through art, music, movement? It is wonderful. That being said though, if there is a season where you need to use something else because you are on bedrest or everything is literally falling apart and you are just hanging on by your fingernails, perhaps consider that you can come back to Waldorf in six months or so, and add in as many things as possible to include holistically educating your whole child in the meanwhile!
You too, decide this relationship: how much Waldorf? A toe in, all in, up to your middle in the Waldorf Pool? To me, if I have to teach, then I am going to teach this way because it makes the most sense to me. Waldorf Education and parenting addresses the whole child throughout all the stages of development.
People do many different things in conjunction with Waldorf, Waldorf homeschooling looks different in different homes. But, as Waldorf homeschoolers, we all share a respect for the protection that childhood deserves, a respect for educating holistically, a respect for teaching through art and movement and music, a respect for nature and our place here and in the Cosmos and a respect for the cycles of life in macro and microcosm.
I love to read Waldorf blogs by homeschooling parents. They really put the most beautiful things on their blogs, their lives look so beautiful (and please know most bloggers do put the most hopeful and wonderful things on their blogs! These mothers are absolutely wonderful, but really are not completely perfect, so please don’t compare and get depressed about it all! That is easy to do! And then you start thinking, wow, if I can’t bring my family THAT then I am not going to do it at all!)
If you are starting out,please don’t think all that will happen when you have four kids under the age of 6! It might, but if it doesn’t, that is okay. Your homeschool will look much more refined when your YOUNGEST is over 7 ( or when your older ones are really, really helpful with the little ones! LOL!)
The most important thing in homeschooling is the joy of the family, the development of the WHOLE three fold and fourfold person. Being together, being outside, being warm with each other. Your beautiful homeschool really is beautiful and may gain some additional structure as the years go by, but the basic joy of family living is always there.
Take Joy in What You Have, Baby Steps,