I hear from many families who are interested in Waldorf homeschooling. I do think the home environment is much different than the Waldorf school environment; it is much like comparing oranges and grapefruit in a way. A Waldorf school and Waldorf homeschooling are related with Waldorf Schools giving us a model of the curriculum for the school environment but homeschooling has a different flavor!
It is also different because it is up to us, as homeschooling parents, to hold things – to really create that form for the day, the month and the year. Parents often become interested in Waldorf homeschooling because it is perceived as gentle, based in nature, the better-late-than-early category. It is those things, but there is more. We often hear how we take Waldorf homeschooling and what resonates about this with us and then it is Waldorf education. However, I think there is more than this.
Actually, I think there are five essential truths that should be worked with regarding Waldorf homeschooling. If you can get through these five things and feel like it resonates with you, then I think Waldorf homeschooling could be a success for you!
1. Self-awareness. If we understand that Waldorf education is based upon childhood development, then I think in order to teach and parent in a way that encompasses this view, first we have to know ourselves. This is a continual and ongoing process as we go through different cycles in life, but looking at our own biography, knowing our own temperament, knowing where we are, is vitally important. And being able to look at ourselves and our own stories with a feeling of steadiness and steadfastness is important for the work we are laying in our own families. This is something that is ongoing.
2. Inner work. Once we have self-awareness, it is important to see what we can do with that. What gifts does our self-awareness give us and give our children? How do we connect into something higher than ourselves in this endeavor? What qualities need developing in ourselves for working with our children for the betterment of our own community and humanity? How do we ask for help from the angelic realms?
3. Child Observation. If you can really observe and think about your child in an unbiased manner (which is very tricky! Can we ever really be unbiased about our own children?) then we can begin to harness the benefits of the Waldorf curriculum for own individual child in our own family culture in our own geographic location in this time. One thing I like to try in child observation is to strike a balance. I know in talking to other mothers that we can often be too harsh regarding our children and the things they do or don’t do, but often we can also stick our heads in the sand and see our children as perfect and not needing to work on developing anything. Both of these approaches demand that we make an further attempt to look at our children without bias and to meditate on a balanced picture of our children. Child observation and meditation also, I think, goes back to inner work and learning to trust our own intuition about our children and what their needs are. That will come as you sit and digest your impressions of the day, the week, the month and the year. If you can be present and with your children, and do your own inner work, the revelations will come as to what your child really needs and is asking for.
4. Child Development. If you are interested in Waldorf homeschooling, then childhood development from the perspective of Rudolf Steiner is a necessity to understand the underpinnings of the curriculum followed in the school and the way you can use your child observations and meditations to bring homeschooling to life at home. It also helps you when you go to read literature about Waldorf homeschooling, because you will understand what you are reading since the educational literature has a language all its own, and it will help you in your inner work to realize that the view of the human being in Waldorf Education is a spiritual one and that we are always developing throughout the life span.
5. Authority. This really can trip up the attachment parenting families interested in Waldorf homeschooling and Waldorf Education! Again, this is about using all of our freedom as homeschoolers to create healthy forms that will result in a healthy adult human being for our children. In Waldorf Education, the child has a different consciousness than the adult and therefore deserves, demands, and needs a stable guide and strong boundaries in this endeavor of growing up. This does not mean that the child is not important (see child observation and child development point above!), nor does it mean that the child has nothing to teach us (on the contrary, the child is the textbook!), nor that we should not leave enough space in our lessons for the inspiration the child brings, but that we can and should actually teach, lead, guide, parent. Waldorf Education really brings the role of the teacher to the forefront, in a gentle and loving and connected to the child kind of way, but also in a way that says, yes, I am the adult here. I can do this if I develop not only a thinking way of accepting these tenets, but also accepting them in my feeling life, and then I have to use my own WILL to follow through.
Thanks again Carrie. I have been reading here for four years now I think, and slowly coming along especially in the realm of being the authority. You were the one voice out there that approached authority in a way that resonated with me and also called me to almost a higher view of myself and my kids and has required much of me. I have walked into this and then fallen back into boundary-less land. But a set of circumstances this summer has unfolded in my life and all things have worked to the good:), to bring my lack of boundaries and authority in my own home to the forefront. I have hosted my four nieces and one nephew ages 8-14 for six weeks and whew, with my own three boys, you just can’t survive in a house with 8 kids and have no boundaries. I have to say the “boot camp” on learning boundaries as my husband likes to call it has not been easy but coming into our last week with the extra family I can really be grateful for some new insights I have had into myself and also some new skills and feelings of empowerment.
I wanted to share that for me, my lack of boundaries and difficulty with authority has it’s deep roots in my own lack of honoring my own desires and needs. I saw this in my mom growing up, and have known on a surface level that I need to grow past that, but it has become clear that in my heart, it is terribly hard for me to honor myself and my wishes at the expense of anyone else (and you know children will always make their wants and desires quite known). I have felt like honoring my own need as an introvert for space and quiet would somehow damage my boys and leave them feeling like I was absent. But ironically, the opposite is true. Only when I have these very basic needs of my own met am I able to be fully present to my boys. So in fact, rather than taking from my boys, I am giving them a real gift by honoring myself. Because what I have also unearthed is this truth that I can only really help them live fully into themselves and honor their God-given desires if I am doing the same. Otherwise, I often find myself minimizing their desires as not important or needing to justify why we would spend money on something they really love or love to do… because THAT IS HOW I TREAT MYSELF. Huge self-revelations here.
I share this in case it might resonate with anyone else, and also because these new insights happened from my own inner work, which yes, is vital. I am keeping my youngest home all day this year, he turns five in Oct. and will not go to kinder until next fall. But this year, my true desire is to build a foundation of rhythm in our home using waldorf principles, something I have been wanting and craving and sort of trying to do with little success. Inner authority has been a real missing key. And I really feel like I have that now. So, I am excited at the work ahead of me this year. And also appreciate the work of “Celebrate the Rhythm” blog which I am looking to for practical help.
For putting yourself and all this out there to the world, Carrie, I thank you. It has been and continues to be a huge influence on my own inner work and your wholistic view of life is a combination that I have not often found. I think it truly is Steiner-influenced, which is why I am going to just sink in and really put my teeth to it this year.
Many many blessings.
This is just so beautiful! I would love it if you would like to turn this into a guest post for this blog…I truly believe that having large families can lead to a healthier dynamic, if the parents rise up to that! What a blessing to have that experience in your life!
Hugs, hugs, hugs!
These are such beautiful insights Amy!
What would you recommend reading to understand children by Rudolf Steiner? This speaks to me. I need to work on all these things. Thank you.
I think Kingdom of Childhood is a great start. Then you could move into works such as Soul Economy and others.
I have been popping in and out here for the past 2 years, and just recently subscribed… I have considered homeschooling, Waldorf homeschooling, and Waldorf schooling for my children. Your words here have been an incredible inspiration and source of encouragement on my parenting journey and I wanted to say thank you. Thank you for being here and thank you for sharing.
Thank you Carrie for this clarity on Waldorf Homeschooling. It definitely resonates with me.
What sort of “work” would you recommend to do, in order to become more self aware? I often think about my temperament type (Melancholic I think). Reading? (suggestions), Meditating (on what? how?), journalliing? (how would you really work with this?)
I guess the same sort of questions come up re the “Inner Work”.
You probably already got a post on this in your blog. I’ll start searching there!!!
Regards, and thanks
Carol – Yes, please look under the header that says “Development” and then look under the tab that says “Adult” under that..lots and lots of posts should appear.
Carrie, this is such a great post about those underlying truths in Waldorf education, what we’re striving for that is so much bigger than which lesson blocks to do, which stories to pick, which skills to tackle each year….What I love about Waldorf is how it is deep through and through, and I think so many of us homeschooling parents are drawn in because WE are on a spiritual journey ourselves!
Yay Carrie! Great distillation! I want to hang your list on my fridge lol. I will be linking to this on my blog.