Differing Expectations Between Waldorf Curriculums

The last post I wrote about language arts through the Waldorf homeschooling curriculum  brought out some terrific comments by veteran homeschooling mothers regarding finding differing expectations between Waldorf homeschooling curriculums.  One of my long-time readers wrote this brilliant comment:

Thanks again, Carrie, for your thoughts on this. There can be such a discrepancy not just between what’s done at school or home but also in comparing home ed. curriculums. Looking at Live Ed, say, or Path of Discovery, and then comparing it to much of what Christopherus suggests is do-able at a certain age for example. The expectations of the child, not just in language arts but in all areas, are quite different.
I agree with what you say about home educated children – I think they develop to their own individual time-tables, regardless of what experts might say or what other children are doing.
Perhaps being allowed to linger in a stage of development allows them to really complete it in a way that being hurried on to the next thing does not.

Yes! Oh, yes!

So always go back to basics:  read  Steiner’s lectures and  look at your child.  Know the general ideas of artistic and academic goals for each grade and know that if you are using curriculum, they do vary fairly significantly at points.  Most of all, look at the child in front of you because when it comes down to it, that is what you have:  the child in front of you and where they are and you can only build from there!  That is the reality of teaching!

Why is it that  you often hear about children in the homeschooling environment (and not even just Waldorf homeschooling, you  ofen hear this across homeschooling methodologies  unless a child is really being pushed in the academic areas or the child is just naturally brilliant) is  that sometimes a child didn’t read until 12, or they just didn’t get math until all of the sudden when they turned 14, etc. ? I think this may, like my reader suggests above,  have to do with the  time and space that homeschooling affords.  In my experience, it seems that many times the only children that meet many of these  “pre-set milestones”  are the eager beaver first-born girls.  Maybe in a group some of these children would be the little ones sort of ahead of the class in general or who get it easily and help their classmates.  Maybe  it has to do with a more esoteric reason, such the guiding hand of Spirit over  homeschoolers as a group across the land.  I don’t know, other than it just seems to be.

So, be careful with curriculums.  They can be a great guidepost to help brand-new mothers who have never seen a Waldorf classroom nor heard transition verses nor seen main lesson books.  However, I notice many mothers coming up are buying ALL the curriculums. ALL the different curriculums on the market! Are you the type of the mother that can sort through all of this?  Is there one that really matches your family better and where your child is?

At the point you are sorting through all of this, why not buy resources and make your own curriculum since the curriculums are all different anyway?  Yes, each curriculum has its gems, each one has its own voice.  But so do you! You have your own voice, your own style – and this is EXACTLY what happens in a Waldorf classroom with a teacher.  Every teacher is different and brings their own twist to the subject material.   Every teacher will design a block in a different way.

Being a homeschooling parent means being a teacher.  You are learning to be a teacher, and it will come.


7 thoughts on “Differing Expectations Between Waldorf Curriculums

  1. Pingback: » Differing Expectations Between Waldorf Curriculums

  2. Dear Carrie,

    I thank you so much for all of your posts and all the time and effort you have put into and continue to pour into this blog. It is a phenomenal resource and I have been reading and learning here for many years.

    I hope you won’t mind if I come to you with something on my heart about our homeschool. You may remember me from the Waldorf at Home Forum (mountainbugs). I have 3 sons 11, almost 8 and 4.5 years and a baby daughter 7mos. We have always homeschooled and have always used the Waldorf method (mainly following Christopherus for guidance). It has been so, so lovely. I have enjoyed it tremendously. Until this year.

    I now have 3 levels to plan for and teach whereas before this year I had 2 younger sons in kindergarten and one in a grade. The planning went well (I start in April each year). The teaching feels exhausting and rushed. I am becoming exhausted and have already pared down some things. I do full circle time only 2 per week and 1 time a shortened version of just bible memory and hymns. On Fridays we have a homeschool coop and no formal school. Only on Wednesdays do we have outside of the house lessons for the eldest (I don’t drive him). I stay home, I have had a lovely rhythm for so many years for the younger ones. However I need to stay in the bed with the younger 2 during our nap (2 hours) and this has been a blessing (I need the rest as I am up so early and am very active) until this year when I am just so short of time for Grade 4 and even for Grade 1.

    Your weekly posts have been so helpful. I can see that it is doable with three kids but I am really not sure I can do it. And with a fourth. I have been praying about this a lot.

    It is on my heart to change from the Waldorf method but I really cannot do it. I love it and it speaks to me so closely. I am thinking of adapting to a one-room schoolhouse idea so that we can all be doing more of the same things together at the same time. But as I look at Grade 5 and Grade 2 and wonder how I can combine I am at a loss. And then when I think about the future grades and combinations I get overwhelmed.

    Do you have any comments? Suggestions? If not that is okay. Just thought I would ask and see if you could mull this over sometime.

    Warmly, Carrie.

    • Hi MountainBugs Carrie! Happy to see you here!
      One thing I think is to cut down on yes, on warming up, extras…your time is at a premium right now.
      Grades 2 and 5….let’s see Ancient India and Ancient China and bring in Jataka Tales of Asia for your second grader; botany and nature blocks and Native American tales for your second grader together; you could do a block of star tales from the Greek myths for the zodiac for the mythology and Native American tales of the stars; Or North American Indian tales with US Geography. I cannot think where Saints could overlap in Ancient Civilizations, although I think Betty Staley’s book had some suggestions for African ones so if you do Ancient Africa you could overlap there.. I guess I am saying I think you could combine some of the blocks just as you are suggesting.
      Also, make sure that when things are separate the time is 1 and a half hours or so (or even less for your second grader). When things drag on that can be hard.
      I am sorry you are feeling overwhelmed! With multiple children, two in the grades, you probably need to be able to really be just done by nap time. If you can plan things each day in small chunks – go deep rather than wide- it may help you hone and focus in . There are lots of great angles you could take on any given topic in the fifth and second grade curriculums, the point is really to find the overlapping angles for those two grades.
      Hope that helps, hang in there!

    • Thank you so much Carrie. Yes, this does help. Had not thought of Jataka tales and as we did not do those in Grade 2 the first time around that is a really great idea (and more fun for me to do something new). Do you recommend a resource? As for the other suggestions, I am less familiar and will have to really investigate. I don’t think saints overlap either really, for the most part, but maybe heros?… and 5th graders can still be spoken to via stories of great heros (we have been doing bible heros for the past 2 years as we look at the OT via main lessons).

      I do think it will be different next year when the baby is a toddler and walking around – not able to keep her in sling for so many hours will both be easier for me physically but harder in terms of keeping one eye on her and focusing on “school”. I have been reading about the “one room schoolhouse approach” and thinking about how I can do that in a Waldorf way. So it won’t be Waldorf for anybody anymore really as they will be exposed to the learning of each other more than before (I have kept separate main lessons and practice for the most part up to now). I read this article and found it interesting:
      For example we are doing our second zoology block with my eldest right now. I read some nice poems about turtles (mainly for 1st grader), and then we talked about reptiles and amphibians and their similarties and differences for 4th grader, and then we sat down to model a reptile with my 4th grader and the 4 year old took a chunk of clay too and made things which ended up being “rock chunks” and the 1st grader tried modelling his turtle with clay but couldn’t so I encouraged him to go to the beeswax with me and that went better for him. But they all listened in when discussing the more detailed 4th grader subject. And the little ones won’t do the follow up work about it but are still part of the main lesson (and I only really taught one main lesson). Most days are not at all like this and I am literally running back and forth and scrambling to keep them all busy as so much of their work depends on me sitting with them or checking something before they can continue.

      I am going to keep on praying and researching. Thank you so much. I am also going to really go back to basics about why we are homeschooling and what results/goals we are working towards (for our adult children). I want to keep this in perspective of why and how we chose Waldorf homeschooling. This should be the way we plan our homeschool years and I haven’t gone back to that in a couple of years now – just plugging along with what we had already decided was best.

    • Carrie,
      Uh, I think what you described with the turtle is Waldorf homeschooling. I think somewhere along the way you got the idea that it is Waldorf to separate by grade. It is and it isn’t. School environment yes and home to an extent. The idea is that some themes speak more strongly developmentally to children of a certain age, of course, but it is certainly all right for smaller children to be in on lessons and listening and even designing portions of a bigger picture to bring to younger children. The only time you may have to modify this is modern history in eighth grade, and possibly the last bit of the Norse myths. Gilgamesh in fifth has some dicier parts, as well as some of the historical things in sixth and seventh, but I find most of this goes over smaller children’s heads.
      I have seen Norse myth plays with first graders in them as the chorus, but the main parts are fourth graders, for example. I have seen Old Testament tales done with first graders, but the third graders in the group felt the tales most strongly. Does that help> What you are doing is Waldorf, it is what veteran Waldorf homeschoolers do. Maybe you are just now transitioning to veteran! 🙂
      Try this back post: https://theparentingpassageway.com/2015/02/23/peaceful-times-in-homeschooling-a-big-family/
      Hope that helps, feel encouraged. I think there is a way to work this out!

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