Rhythm: Part Four

I talk to so many mothers who have children of multiple ages and who are very concerned as to  how to fit in multiple main lessons, or what to do with their children when their ages are spread out between the Early Years and the grades.  It can be daunting, and many veteran Waldorf homeschoolers say that you cannot schedule that many main lessons without going insane….but then how to do it?

Let’s start at the beginning.  If you have a first or second grader, and the rest of your children are under the age of 7, then life should be relatively easy.  You can often think in terms of outside time together, a circle for all, a story geared to the kindergartener, perhaps the main lesson for the first or second grader, nap and quiet time (and perhaps do something else for fifteen to twenty minutes with the first or second grader during quiet time),  the work of the day geared toward the kindergartener but including all, and finish with playing outside.   My friend Sheila has a lovely post about her rhythm with her fourth grader and her Early Years child here:  http://sureastheworld.com/2012/03/18/brass-tacks-my-homeschooling-day/

With two children involved in  main lesson work, I think it is still possible to either put them “together” if they are close in age…ie, a first grader and a second grader could both hear folk tales, but work on slightly different academic levels.  If the two children needing main lessons are further apart in age, then you may want to have separate main lesson times.  Then for other lessons, such as foreign language or handwork, you could combine the children but have them work at their own levels.    I think all of that is possible with only two children needing main lessons, even with younger children in tow.  I think this is the sort of thing you must jump in and try and switch around as needed.  It is daunting when I go to the homes of my homeschooling friends who are not using Waldorf methods and their homeschooling is a lot of workbooks, worksheets, independent reading textbooks, and videos.  Waldorf homeschooling is different, and sometimes only by doing it can we wrap our heads around how it will work for our family and what that will look like!

I will have a fifth grader, a second grader, and a two year old turning three in the fall.  I am planning my essential rhythm to look like this:   Bible reading and prayer with all children, a walk with the dog or carting with the dog with all the children, circle time and story geared toward my little one with the older girls helping along with prayers/singing/poetry, main lesson for my second grader (fifth grader to practice guitar, play with her little brother and start math practice), snack, main lesson for my fifth grader (she can play with her little brother, practice piano), lunch and quiet/nap time, whilst our toddler is sleeping we are going to come back for a “heart” subject (religion two days a week, Spanish one day a week, and form drawing one day a week), read-aloud and snack, and “hand” lessons at the end of the day (handwork two days a week, music one day a week, and painting/drawing one day a week), end verse.  I anticipate it will take us until three o’clock or so to finish everything each day.

What I hear from mothers in the trenches  is that it is  more difficult when you have three or more children needing main lesson work.  I think in this situation you could keep everyone on the same subject, and rotate in a set fashion between children, presenting each one with main lesson work.  I think if you were very organized with chalkboard drawings ready to go ahead of time and the like, and some of the children were old enough to do some things independently, this could work out fine. You could try to combine the children who are close enough in age in main lesson topics, and combine as much as possible for any “heart” and “hand” lessons.  If you want to talk about this further, I would recommend logging on to  A Little Garden Flower’s Yahoo!Group (homeschoolingwaldorf@yahoogroups.com)  because Melissa Nielsen is homeschooling five children, and some of the veteran homeschooling mothers on that list have homeschooled anywhere from three to eight children.  It is all possible, but I think you need to talk to people who have done it and gone before you.    If you have more than three children in the grades, I do hope you leave a comment as to how you are making it work for your family!

Some mothers say by the time they get through the main lesson, it is lunch and things just fall apart after that and they never really get to do those “heart” and “hand” lessons.  It may be that the main lesson work is starting too late to fit everything in,  or that the younger children don’t have a good rhythm as to what to do whilst the older ones are working.  Here are some suggestions for the smallest ones in your family whilst you are doing more of sit-down work with your older children:  you can homeschool outside so the younger ones can run around, you can schedule your fourth grader to play with the younger siblings whilst you work with the first grader, you can have toys that rotate out during the lesson, or you can serve snack to the younger children whilst working with the older children, you can move your rhythm around to include doing some things during  a nap time or on a weekend when a spouse is around too!)

I have written quite a lot in the past about homeschool planning, and here are some of my favorite back posts:




Hope those help, and many blessings upon your homeschooling journey!


8 thoughts on “Rhythm: Part Four

  1. Great post, Carrie! Your rhythm for next year sounds a lot like mine this year with a fourth grader, a six year old in his last kinder year and a newly turned 3 year old. I find that it works great to start with my little guys while my oldest does some work independently (math practice, reading, journaling). By the time I’m done with the kinder activities it is snack time. That’s when we switch and the little guys are happy to play while I work with my 10 year old. The afternoons, however, don’t always feel productive. Usually, we have an activity out of the house, or I’m so tired after lunch/quiet time that the rest of the afternoon ends up being free time! I would love to hear about your plans for fifth grade, since that is what seems to be on my mind most of the time these days 🙂 Hope you are having a great Sunday.
    Many blessings~

    • Crystal,
      Have you posted any fifth grade plans on your blog yet? I would be so happy to link to that when I get ready to write something about fifth!
      Thanks for chiming in , nice to hear from you!

    • Hi Carrie,
      I haven’t posted anything about 5th on my blog yet. So far, I’ve just got a rough outline up to February, based on Melisa’s suggestions in her 5th grade guide. I’ve also been referring quite a bit to my beloved copy of Christopherus’ Overview. Also from Christopherus, I have the Botany book and I really like how Donna suggests multiple short botany lessons throughout the year. I’m wanting to find a way to work that into Melisa’s idea of “gathering” plants in the different regions studied in the Ancient Mythologies via a container story, along with a block on botany in the spring. I still have some resource gathering to do as well
      as I plan to use some Kovacs books, ideas from Christopherus’ Ancient
      Mythologies, library books, and still deciding on Oak Meadow or Christopherus for math. Phew! I’m excited for 5th grade. I think my son is going to love it! 🙂
      Take care,

  2. Hi Carrie, thanks for your thoughtful set of posts on this topic, I have been doing a lot of research recently as I am going to be teaching 1st and 4th grades this September – I am splitting the main lessons up and combining the other lessons, I am not sure how maths and Language Arts will run simultaneously however, as the older child finds it hard to concentrate on her own work when there is anything else going on at the table – but I guess this is just a skill she is going to have to work on.

    Louisa (homeschooling in France)

  3. This is another favorite subject of mine! I teach 3 main lessons 4 days a week. Each child gets their own lesson. The only exceptions are when my big boys 15 & 13 are working on something science related that they can both work on together. I also have a 5yr that we do kindy stories for a circle time through the week. Oh and a toddler, lol. We have a busy house. I never skimp on main lesson content. I work to really have it all planned. The things that I find super helpful as children get older is to allow them to do some reading on their own and then when you come together for the main lesson it goes smoothly – this means you have to read the material too, lol, you can’t have a discussion if you aren’t both on the same page. Just think though, if you have several children, you read it once, make notes and then just review before working with the next child.

    We did a video segment a few years back that might be helpful:

    I love this topic and I am happy to help if I can. Blessings.

  4. Hi Carrie! Thanks for another great post…I am a longtime reader and I think first-time commenter…I am wondering if you have an insight for my family and others like my family…I have two children ages 2 and almost 5…In the past two years we have settled into a nice rhythm by really making an effort to just be home (not easy for social-butterfly me) and I have really enjoyed the peace it has brought our lives. However, my son (2 yrs) was just diagnosed with probable apraxia and life has been turned upside-down. A child with apraxia technically should have therapy 5 days a week and we are currently doing 2 days out of the house, one in the house, and then a music class on Fridays that we have always done (it was our one planned outing a week, besides church on Sunday)…and we might be adding one more therapy day outside of the home…and well! it has really thrown off our family rhythm…I am really struggling with having a nice and consistent rhythm for all of us with all of this coming and going…even though we now have a pattern per se with all the therapy…I feel our home rhythm is really off (because we aren’t home!)…HELP? Thank you so much!!!

  5. Pingback: The January Rhythm Round-Up | The Parenting Passageway

  6. Pingback: Rhythm Renewal! | The Parenting Passageway

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