This is a big subject as entire books have been devoted to this matter. I recommend that Waldorf homeschooling parents first of all read Steiner’s lectures regarding language arts. The lectures compiled in “Genius of Language”; lectures also found in “Discussions With Teachers” and “Practical Advice to Teachers”.
In the Waldorf homeschooling world, we also books of secondary pedagogy such as “Living Language” from Christopherus Homeschooling Resources, Inc which I think is very helpful for grades one through five if you are putting together your own blocks, the smattering of lessons for grades 2 through 8 such as Dorothy Harrer’s book “An English Manual” (free as an ebook over at Rudolf Steiner Library On-Line) which includes mainly grammar (but not so much writing or progression to writing). Also, brand new this year are little grammar workbooks from a Waldorf perspective for grades four and up here (but I think only grade four is out right now). Unlike “Waldorf math” where a scope and sequence is laid out by such authors as Jarman or York, I have not found a true scope and sequence for language arts (writing, spelling, grammar, punctuation) other than “Living Language” (– especially for the upper grades, since, again, “Living Language” covers grades one through five).
All of this is important because, after all, in Waldorf homeschooling, we have those summaries (I say this partly with my tongue in cheek – read on). You know, the summaries that run through all the grades in trying to summarize information in the upper grades and sentences in the lower grades. We do use what we write to learn to read and to practice our letter and word –finding abilities in the lower grades, and in how we work with grammar and punctuation and spelling. We find this work in our rhythm of practice, in recall, a deepening of the subject using art as the vehicle and yes, writing as an academic piece. (Not that this rhythm of “material-drawing-summary” should be the way to do every thing! Trying to decide what to put in the main lesson book is part of being the teacher, and not everything has to go in the main lesson book – trying to put everything in there is a sure recipe for burn-out on both your part and the student’s part! Is the goal of Waldorf Education writing summaries? Is art the secondary step to get to the summary? NO, I say emphatically!)
I find that writing in and of itself is an activity that involves much thinking, and therefore I believe we really see the maturation of writing when we see the maturation of the human being. Being able to think about a subject and write about it clearly in order to communicate to other people involves the twelve senses – I think especially in the choosing of words, punctuation, grammar, how we phrase things, how we analyze things and can synthesize this on paper – this involves being able to put ourselves in the place of another “I” on so many levels, to be able to communicate with the “other” in our audience and in our clarity. To me, good writing is part of the hallmark and culmination of these senses.
In the homeschooling environment I think this takes place later than in the school setting from what I have seen and heard in working with other homeschooling families. Therefore, I am always a bit baffled by this push for more mature “writing” in composing summaries in the grades four and below – to me, this is more the realm of copying sentences and then copying summaries of a paragraph or two, dictation in perhaps end of fourth and yes in fifth grade, yes, perhaps working together to go over ideas orally first in these grades so the child can get a sense of how to start compiling things….and then composing summaries gradually and gently in middle school with excellent writing towards the end of eighth grade and in high school. That is my own progression in my own homeschooling, but certainly every child is different, and you as a homeschooling teacher will need to figure out what is right for your family.
I hope to write a series talking about language arts in each grade with a few ideas. As I have pointed out, there are many books on these subjects and it is worth your time to think about the progression normally found in Waldorf Education and how your progression will be at home. My vote and inclination is that the things we find in Waldorf Education often, again, happens later in the home environment, especially for the very active boys and girls.
Just my two cents!