This is the time of year, homeschooling mamas! I am back on some of the Waldorf Facebook groups and the questions about new beginnings are flowing in on those boards. These tend to be many of the same questions people have over and over from year to year. And that is okay, because the people who are searching for answers are often new and this is the cycle of things in homeschooling in general.
Waldorf homeschooling in peace and joy requires that one lets go of creating a school environment in the home – you are a busy mother; you are not an entire paid faculty. At the same time, Waldorf homeschooling also asks you to rise up and try. Try to paint, draw, memorize, look for poetry. Try. Try and bring as much as you can as you strive. That is joyful Waldorf homeschooling. You have to be able to let go of guilt and enjoy the benefits of homeschooling – which is to be together as a family and to meet the child in front of you. Let go of your guilt and perfectionism and enjoy!
Here are a few of my tips for the specific common questions, which generally seem to involve rhythm and the early grades –
For questions about rhythm with very tiny children – all children under the age of 7 and even children under the age of 9 – I know you don’t realize it right now, but you have the most flexibility you probably will ever have should you choose to homeschool up into high school and the middle grades. Please, please try to enjoy this time. Rhythm doesn’t have to be difficult. Start where you are! The only person who can really make up a rhythm and make it your family’s own is YOU. Write down on a piece of paper for a few days the activities your family does and when and then look at building your rhythm around that. Look at your mealtimes and bedtimes and start there.
For resources about rhythm in general, I recommend all the back articles on this blog under rhythm; the book “Heaven On Earth” I think has more concrete advice than most. The book “Beyond the Rainbow Bridge” has some concrete examples of morning garden in the back of the book and it has a lot of the “why’s” you are really doing this– but remember, rhythm is a PERSONAL thing. It is from you, inherent in your family, and it is a gift and an aid to help keep your family peaceful and to keep your discipline challenges low. If preparation and cleaning up is part of your rhythm to activities, it is just there. It just “is”, like the tide rising and falling. There is no arguing about it. If bedtimes and mealtimes are peacefully set, there is only peace. There is plenty of outdoor time.
First grade jitters? Again, please see first grade as the gift of time that it really is! Such a lovely little grade with work on knitting, drawing, motor skills, crafts, festivals – and yes, learning letters and words and numbers and about the nature around us. But most of all, first grade is still about the development of the body – go hike, go outside, snowshoe and swim, pick berries and apples. All of these things, again, should be personalized to your family and the area in which you live. I am certain Rudolf Steiner would not have wanted a classroom in Alaska in winter to look like my southern classroom in January. Meditate on what you want to bring, and most importantly, observe and really look at the child in front of you. This is teaching – look at the child, not the pages of a curriculum. Bring the curriculum to the child, not the other way around. There is a difference.
Second grade saints and third grade Stories of the Hebrew people come up over and over again. I have many back posts that include these areas and don’t wish to reiterate it all here. Please do hunt by grade under the “Homeschooling” tab.
Most of all, come to Waldorf homeschooling with a sense of peace, joy and moderation. If it really is all so difficult and everything that veteran homeschool mothers say bother and upset you, perhaps this is not the path for your family or perhaps it needs to sit inside of you and germinate awhile. Sometimes it takes several years to grow into ideas that are very foreign – and the way the curriculum is designed around developmental age (not skill level), the way the curriculum teaches through art, the spiritual aspect that permeates all subjects, the proper approach to when harder sciences and such come in – are foreign ideas to many people and can take time to settle in peace as to how that will work in your own family. Rome was not built in a day, as the saying goes, and sometimes we are too impatient. Read and discover for yourself, let it sit, read and discover for yourself, and incorporate what you can.
Many blessings and joy,