Which Waldorf Curriculum Should I Buy?

(Up to date as of 2/4/2017)

This topic comes up over and over again on Facebook groups, Yahoo Groups and in real life.  There is even a Facebook group devoted to sharing information about the different curriculums called “Waldorf Homeschool Curriculum Discussion”.

If you as a homeschooling mother have investigated Waldorf at all, then you probably realize that for the Early Years, under the age of 7, life and being home is the curriculum.  Play, meaningful work, rest, stories and songs and verses and being outside, along with seasonal activities IS the curriculum.   It is living and changing.  You don’t need to buy a curriculum for this, but if you feel you need verses, songs, or seasonal ideas, there are plenty of books, Pinterest boards and the like to demonstrate ideas.  You could also attend an open house if you have a Waldorf School near you and see a puppet show.  This is the time to develop your own skills, learn to be able to set a rhythm in your own home, and be a gentle leader in your own home if you plan to homeschool in the grades.  There is no “homeschooling” a four year or five year old in Waldorf!  You are living a beautiful life!  Life is the curriculum!

If you have investigated the Waldorf curriculum for the grades, you probably have seen there are certain subjects that Rudolf Steiner indicated as part of the development of the holistic human being by age, and there are some things built up in secondary pedagogy over these years as being done in certain grades.  You have to know enough to see how this curriculum can be adapted to your own unique geographical environment  (look at the manuals from the East African Waldorf teacher training curriculum and see how they adapt the curriculum for their country and continent) and most of all, to the unique child standing in front of you.  LOOK at the child right in front of you.  This is homeschooling, and homeschooling with Waldorf means you are a TEACHER.    It is not “child-led” but it is sensitive to the child based upon Rudolf Steiner’s view of development and how you, the teacher, brings it!

So this type of homeschooling takes work.    And that seems to scare many.   I  also feel many parents are interested in Waldorf Education because they perceive it as gentle (it is), child-led (it is not), nature-oriented (it is), easing into life in a more gentle way that is unhurried (it does, but then the other grades become VERY rigorous indeed).  The early years of play silks and wooden toys don’t last forever and wooden toys do not an early Waldorf childhood experience make.  Waldorf Education is about protection of the child, but it is also about bringing things at the right time developmentally and that does mean the world opens up, especially after the age of twelve.

The curriculums currently on the market (and this is just a list; I am not endorsing any particular curriculum since different things work for different families)  include Celebrate the Rhythm of Life Living Curriculum Program,  Live Education, Waldorf Essentials, Earthschooling, individual offerings from Rick and Jennifer Tan at Syrendell and Marsha Johnson at her Yahoo Group waldorfhomeeducators@yahoogroups.com and her on-line store The Magic of Waldorf, and  Christopherus Homeschool Resources, Inc.   I am not really including  Enki and Oak Meadow as they were written by former Waldorf teachers; Enki is closest to Waldorf pedagogy out of the two, but each are there own distinct programs with their own scope and sequence.  So these are more “Waldorf-inspired”. Little Acorn Learning is aligned with Lifeways of North America, and is nature-based.  There are several websites with free information, including Waldorf Inspirations.  Jean Miller’s website Waldorf-Inspired Learning and  Meredith over at A Waldorf Journey have some products available depending upon block/topic. Also, please do not forget the myriad of resources available to Waldorf teachers that are also available to you through booksellers such as Rudolf Steiner College Bookstore or Waldorf Books.  There may be other resources I missed or didn’t include, but I think these represent the majority of the curriculums that are out there that cover grades 1-8 in some capacity.

If you are not piecing together your own curriculum, (which I recommend you try to do, especially in the early grades when it is easier and you can get the hang of it), then you will have to sort through all of these options.  Most mothers I talk to say they would love to have enough money to purchase more than one curriculum because each one has its gems, its loveliness, and they like to combine pieces and resources.  In the upper grades, where there is much less in the way of curriculum to pick from, you will have to do this anyway.

If you want to see my criteria regarding choosing curriculum, I suggest you look at this back post.  You can also look at this post about how to learn more about Waldorf Education and the suggestions there.    Look carefully at the credentials of the people writing the curriculum and how much they have extensively worked with children in real life . If you are writing a “Waldorf” curriculum and using that word – where is your training, Foundation Studies, workshops that helped train you in this method?  I think all of these things combined make a “curriculum” worth looking at.

Blessings,
Carrie

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9 thoughts on “Which Waldorf Curriculum Should I Buy?

  1. Pingback: » Which Waldorf Curriculum Should I Buy?

  2. Thank you for the thoughtful post and links back to older posts. I was reading the comments of one and didn’t realize there is an active forum discussing Waldorf. Honestly, there are too many places online to discuss Waldorf just as there are too many curriculum choices!

  3. I love how grounding your posts are! I frequently use the word curriculum when describing our home life. Often times, for the sake of avoiding too many questions, I also just say that we homeschool. All of my children are under age six! Outside pressure sometimes rushes the parents more than we want to be rushed:) That being said, I have crafted a curriculum for MYSELF for kindergarten…this is largely because Waldorf is new to me and I have to structure my own time and way of thinking differently. I found the endless online and book suggestions to be very helpful. But the curriculum, or calendar, that I’ve sketched out to keep myself on track is also flexible when life pops up and reminds you to slow down. Anyway, thanks for all of your reminders to stay slow with the little ones. It’s definitely different from many other messages that parents receive!

  4. All of your posts about considering Waldorf curriculum for the homeschool have been incredibly helpful to me! I re-read them periodically to remind myself what questions I should be asking.

    This year I have been teaching first grade and 5-year-old kindergarten. I was completely overwhelmed by curriculum choices when I started planning last year! I chose the Christopherus First Grade Syllabus to be my primary guide, but have tweaked it endlessly. I did appreciate it as an informative starting point for a Waldorf newbie. Two of the main lesson blocks I used pretty much as-is, but that’s it. As I’ve learned what rhythm works for my family, and more about how my children learn, etc., I have concluded that for next year it will be most cost-effective and practical to make my own curriculum.

    For instance, Christopherus 1st Grade scheduled 14 blocks for the year, but for us that moved way too fast! Just as we settled in, it was time to transition to a new block. But I also tried a 6-week block, which was way too long for us, and we were all feeling restless before the block ended. So, I’ve learned that a 1 main lesson block per month rhythm is about right for us. But that means almost 1/3 of the Christopherus curriculum wasn’t really utilized at all this year… and it is just too expensive for me to not use so much of it (not to mention the other resources needed to buy to go along with it).

    I also have learned that what works at this age and stage isn’t necessarily what will work always…so I try to plan enough margin into our main lesson schedule that we can be flexible.

    I did take advantage of sales and used curriculum boards to sample some others this year, including Lavender’s Blue, Earthschooling, and Oak Meadow. I do appreciate that Earthschooling grade packages include ALL the stories and crafts that you would need for the year (so no more resources to buy unless you WANT to), and the more multicultural focus it seems to bring. BUT – and this is a big but for me – it is all electronic which requires endless printing out. I really like to hold a book in my hands and turn pages. I do not like planning from electronic files! But that is my own personal preference.. And the same for Lavender’s Blue. It is all electronic. And as such, neither can be resold… so there is no chance of recouping any of that investment for futute years’ purchases.

    Finally, I have the same feeling about all of the curricula I’ve seen, which is that they would be a jumping off point for me, and I would be tweaking a lot. So, why not just make my own?! But, having a guide for the first year while learning all of this has really put me at ease, and was worth it. Good training wheels while I got my Waldorf homeschooling balance figured out. Now, it’s time to take the training wheels off. 🙂

    • Carly,
      I think this is so much part of the homeschooling journey! Figuring out what works for you, and figuring out that you really are the expert on your own family and your own children. It sounds like you have your path charted, and that is totally exciting!
      Much love,
      Carrie

    • I can relate to many of the feelings stated above. I have a four-year-old and a two-year-old, and as I am looking ahead I have a great desire to be able to piece together my own curriculum but I feel I have Nothing to model off of unless I purchased an entire curriculum to start with. I know I should look at my child to decide what they need and offer curriculum based on that, but I feel like I have no starting point. That is why I have also considered the Christopherus first grade, mostly because I know it is complete and I do not know much about the other ones! And is this even the right time to start thinking of these things? I know I probably still have two years of kindergarten with my child, but not thinking ahead makes me Feel like the time will arrive for first grade and I will be unprepared :-). Carrie, can you recommend when I should start planning?

    • Jen – You don’t need to plan first grade now for sure. Start with planning where you are…What is the rhythm to your day? What is the rhythm to your week? Then get a large piece of paper, divide it into twelve squares — what festivals/holidays do you celebrate in those months? what do you associate in your geographic area in these months – write it all down. Then, get some books with verses, crafts, songs, baking…start plugging them into the months and your daily and weekly rhythm. This is kindergarten, plus meaningful work and outdoor play and rest and the preparation and cleaning up that goes with all these activities. This is also the foundation of first grade. The blocks are layered into this – the letters, the numbers – but you have time to plan that!
      Does that help? It really isn’t complicated once you do it…first time around is always hardest…:)

      Blessings,
      Carrie

  5. Thank you Carrie. That really helps. Particularly the thought that the first grade curriculum is layered on top of our seasonal rhythm that we would already have in place. We have a pretty strong weekly rhythm and a mostly successful daily one, but I really need to divide the paper into 12 squaresto plan out our year. Thank you!

  6. Pingback: ‘Tis the Season for Choosing Waldorf Homeschooling Curriculum | The Parenting Passageway

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