January Homeschool Planning

Sometimes I find this quiet, post-Holiday time when the weather is not always as nice a good time to think ahead for the next school year. I have written many back posts about planning, but I will keep writing new ones because I want mothers new to homeschooling or thinking about homeschooling to know that homeschooling is really possible, and that if you want to homeschool using the pedagogy laid forth by Rudolf Steiner, that is possible too.  In the same breath, however, the world is full of possibilities, but it takes work and follow-through to make it come to fruition.  You have to have the will to plan, and also the ability to follow-through on any given day with the plans you have made.  This is what makes homeschooling a successful endeavor.

Despite the bad press that buying “curriculum” gets in the Waldorf homeschooling world (because Waldorf Education is a living, breathing art that flows between a particular teacher and a particular student in a particular time and place), I do believe there can be a place for curriculum, Maybe you are trying to get your feet under you or maybe it is a particularly bad year due to personal  illness or other circumstances.  I don’t think we should feel guilt about that.  Resources in Waldorf homeschooling are important, whatever “resources” might mean to you, and I want mothers to know that you can put your year together yourself.  It is not hard, and if you work at it, it gets easier each year.

One way I like to start for those working from scratch is to look at the year as an entirety – the cycle of festivals – and sketch that out with ideas for celebrating with music,food, crafts or activities.  That is a good place to begin.

Then, I like to look at a calendar and look at when we might start school and end school for the school year 2015-16.  When might our vacations be?  Things change over time as well – when my older two children were smaller we took a lot of time off in December, and now we have more of a break somewhere toward the end of September and we take less time over December.  If you know your state laws and know how many days you have to school, then that will help you figure out how many weeks of school that you need and how many days a week.

Those under the age of 7 are really just in the rhythm of life and the family and that is a constant, nourishing presence.  Know what ages you need to start reporting to your state for “school hours” – many states do not have reporting requirements for those under a certain age.  Grades 1-4 or 5 can probably get school done in 4 days a week, sometimes grade 6 as well, depending upon how long your days are.  Grades 6 and 7 and up often really need all five days.

Then spend some time thinking, really thinking,  about your child or children. What do they really need this upcoming year?  What can you plan out ahead of time or are there areas that are changing so rapidly you cannot predict what this child will need so far ahead?  That is valid too.  What could you do now to lessen your summer planning?  What might be most important for balancing your child, addressing strengths, weaknesses, capacities?  What academic, artistic, and soul content material would you like to develop?

With this in mind and knowing the number of weeks you will have in the school year, you can see what blocks you want to include.  Blocks can run as short as two weeks to six or eight weeks.  Only you and your experience as a teacher, and looking at the child IN FRONT OF YOU, can figure that out.    This is something that absolutely NO curriculum can tell you, and this is part of being a homeschool teacher!  What I advise is to  leave space in the rhythm of the school year – so if you have 36 weeks of school planned, DON’T plan blocks to cover all 36 weeks. Leave some wiggle room in there and plan maybe 33 or 34 weeks of block material.  It probably will take you 36 weeks!

Lastly, start gathering lists of books and supplies. A good place for new Waldorf homeschoolers to start is to look at places such as Rudolf Steiner College Bookstore and Waldorf Library On-Line and see what  things are listed by grade.  More experienced Waldorf homeschoolers seem to gather many books, Waldorf and not Waldorf, by topic,  and can “make it Waldorf”.  That is something that also comes with experience.

Anyway, this is food for thought for this month of new beginnings.  I recently planned the first block of first grade for our third child, and I am planning on writing a post on that so you can see one mother’s experience (mine) of putting a block together.

Many blessings,



5 thoughts on “January Homeschool Planning

  1. Hi Carrie,
    As always, thank you so much for your post – for the encouragement and the wise experienced practical words. Its such a weight off my conscience to hear you mention that “curriculum” is OK.
    I have been doing Waldorf Homeschooling with a curriculum for a few years now, but I still struggle lots in this area (of planning).
    Perhaps in another post could you unpack what you mean by this phrase from your above post:
    “Then spend some time thinking, really thinking, about your child or children. What do they really need this upcoming year? ”

    I am not sure what “thinking” I should be doing and how I would know if its done right?
    Could you give an example? Like if I’m doing Grade 5 , there are blocks that are to be covered, and there would be some flexibilty as to how thats done, and how much writing / bookwork vs outside activities and field trips etc. Is that what you mean? And could you give an example, like what elements of the child, would indicate what type of response? ie Maybe a child who is too melancholic and ordered, should be perhaps encouraged to do more free form type artistic activities and less writing down of the facts, in order to balance? Is that the sort of thing that you mean? – perhaps I am just making too much of this as I think this kind of child -specific flexibility happens naturally for me as I (dare I say..)often “wing-it” through the year…..

    But I want to be more organised this year, and more intentional, so thats why I’m asking.
    Carol (South Africa)

    • Carol – yes, that is what I mean. I typically try to look at body type, general health, gross and fine motor capabilities, visual motor skills, general coordination, temperament balancing and then areas such as social, artistic, academic, and then yes, exactly, how or what in that grade fits my child?
      You may do this naturally, but I often find new homeschoolers are more interested in what is on the curriculum page rather than the child in front of them, and of course it really needs to start with the child or it can be a flop!
      Many blessings,

  2. Thank you once again, Carrie, for your words of organization and inspiration. I am always so glad you are out there in the world, and I gather strength to continue our Waldorf homeschool path from your posts. They are helpful, yes, but what I love most is how they are full of heart and such service to parents and their children. May you receive many blessings from all that you give. Thank you!

  3. Pingback: Celebrating January | The Parenting Passageway

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