When I was part of a Waldorf-specific homeschooling group here in my home state, one thing we did every year (and often several times a year!) was get together to discuss “hot topics” about HOW to homeschool. How do you do it with a new baby and multiple children? With multiple children spread out in ages? How do you do circle time with an only child? How do you learn to paint or draw or knit or sing with an only child, with multiple children, in the spring when everyone has spring fever, when you have four grades to fit in? These are things you really can only learn from other homeschooling mothers who have been through it!
Many very experienced Waldorf homeschooling families are no longer blogging for reasons ranging from having their work stolen and sold as part of a curriculum to their children’s requests for privacy to just the difficulty of talking about how to teach writing an essay for literature versus the much more fun task of talking about festival preparations and fairies. (yes, and by the way, gnomes, fairies and festivals get a lot more blog hits than the academic high points of the older grades!) This is so sad, though, for the newest generation of Waldorf homeschooling parents because these experienced families have so much wisdom and so many stories and kernels of wisdom that could be shared.
If you could sit down with a group of experienced Waldorf homeschooling families, I think what you would hear from them is:
It absolutely is hard work. Incredibly hard work. Over so many, many years.
You can do this.
It will be okay.
Your homeschooling will not be like a Waldorf School. There is only one of you.
Teaching in a Waldorf environment is an art. We have many more things in our heads than we could possibly bring in any one particular lesson, and we look at the children in front of us on that particular day in that particular moment and bring it. It is less of a “how-to” and more of an intuitive art and relationship. So hard for the new Waldorf homeschooling mothers to hear, but so true.
You can let go of some things, and in fact, you may have to. There may be some things that are impossible to bring in the home environment. Conversely, there are advantages to the homeschooling environment that can never be replicated in a school environment.
You can homeschool through high school. Waldorf homeschooling provides a beautiful, rigorous, artistic, practical education that culminates in the twelfth grade.
Be proud of all the hard work you are putting into your children and your family. In this day and age, it is often under-valued and under-appreciated.
But don’t view that investment as a guarantee. Children come with their own things, they go their own ways, they may reject what you brought to them the older they get. This happens irrespective of schooling sometimes.
Never sacrifice yourself, your health, your marriage, for a “perfect” way of homeschooling or a “perfect” curriculum. Far better to have a happy family life, an encouraging, supportive and cooperative environment than to attain perfection alone and broken. Take care of yourself and your relationships, and then your homeschooling. It will all work out.
The housework, driving, cooking, etc needs to be simple and as delegated as possible. The ability to show our children HOW to nourish a home and the people in it, along with the land we are on, is vitally important. Practical work in the home is the cornerstone of Waldorf homeschooling. Don’t take that away from our children by never having them learn, but also go easy on yourself if you have teens and older children where there are activities outside of the home, multiple long grades to teach and you need to have simpler routines and rhythms and meals than in the past.
Remember that Love is the root of all Waldorf homeschooling…. https://theparentingpassageway.com/2015/07/14/the-root-of-waldorf-homeschooling-is-love
Yes. Love is the root! Good reminders here. I know that I have had to let go of some things and let go of the “perfect” homeschooling experience, but I feel like we are happier than ever. thank you for this post… it is giving me encouragement!
Helpful as always.
I didn’t understand, though, why you say housework and cooking should be simple or delegated. I understand there’s a time and energy crunch, but one thing I love about your posts about the early years is the emphasis on deliberate housework, cooking, baking, etc. That all takes time but I think is really important on an emotional and spiritual as well as physical level. Even if it were in the budget I wouldn’t want a house cleaner, for example, and I’m hoping that thru observation, even as they are older, my boys will learn home keeping skills and also to value the hearth. Maybe I misunderstood the term delegate and you meant involve the children as helpers?
Yes, have the children do things independently once they learn and are ready! (I am so far out of the pay for help range it didn’t even cross my mind!LOL…but thank you, I will go back and edit and clarify)..But I want to be also clear, that simplicity as children grow older and you have multiple older grades is or can be important for your own sanity, depending on how much time it takes you to homeschool. We still cook all of our own meals, clean our home, make herbal things, etc but with activities and going into high school land in the fall, this year I felt like I had to simplify how I did things…there was not enough time in the day. Perhaps that is just me and where I am right now, though! Practical work is the cornerstone of Waldorf homeschooling, so I am glad you brought that up so I could clarify.
YES, I want to ask these questions!!! I wish I had a community of Waldorf families, but we live very remotely. I wish I had more time to participate in online support, but we’ve chosen not to participate in Facebook, plus a dicey internet connection and lack of time severely limit any spare moments to even comment on the blogs I dearly love (and for which I am ever grateful).
I wish I could talk with other mothers about how they handled teaching a very eager learner at five and six years old. We remain very neutral in our responses to our daughter’s spontaneous absorption and realizations relating to letters, numbers and math, so that we are neither encouraging nor discouraging her in these realms.
She is five and a half with an August birthday. In planning for next year, I am reviewing “first grade readiness” information and wondering about possibly starting on first grade material during the middle of the school year, once she is six and a half.