(Here is a beautiful post by Robyn Wolfe from Waldorfish. Please do look for a very special offer for Parenting Passageway readers at the end of this post. Those of you new to Waldorf homeschooling will especially be pleased! Thank you to Waldorfish! Here is Robyn…)
We’ve all been there — new to Waldorf education, possibly new to homeschooling as well. Some of us may have arrived more recently than others, but we share at least one thing: wanting something different than whatever wasn’t feeling right for our child at the time. Maybe you first heard about a nearby Waldorf school from a friend, or had a passing conversation about homeschooling at a playgroup event. At some point you made a bold decision, and here you are. Welcome!
I love the enthusiasm that comes with new endeavors.
The dialog, at least in my head, goes something like this. “Ok! Here we go! Let’s DO this!”. I like to picture a few high fives, and maybe some chest bumps too, although I’m not certain how Waldorfy those actually are. In any case, you made the decision, took the leap, and then likely realized …. there were a lot more decisions to make.
Curriculum! Toys! Local classes! Art Supplies! Hurray! So many great options available online these days.
So. Many. Options. Oh boy.
No doubt at one point or another, you have found yourself pondering just HOW one is supposed to weed through all the available information out there? Maybe you spent just a little more time than you meant to looking at all the gorgeous toys for sale online? Maybe you spent just a little more money than you meant to? Or maybe a lot? Does anyone else still have a few things collecting dust from the early homeschooling days that were purchased in a flurry of enthusiasm, but then never actually got used? In my case, a spectacularly expensive, gorgeously handmade wooden puzzle comes to mind.
See? It’s ok. You’re not the only one.
Most of you reading this are probably somewhat familiar with Rudolf Steiner. No doubt you are aware that he had a lot to say about Waldorf education. Like, A LOT, a lot. It seems to me that if you are at the beginning of this journey, there is plenty of time to work your way through his lectures, slowly and thoughtfully. My advice would be to keep good chocolate nearby, and pace yourself. Remember, this is a journey. In the meantime, though, what about the here and now? My inner pragmatist wonders what she can tell you right now that will be immediately useful to you. While pondering this, it occurred to me that although the list of things Steiner said can be dauntingly long, the list of things he never said is, by comparison, quite short.
I am 100% certain that Steiner never said we should go broke giving our children a Waldorf-inspired education and lifestyle. He did say that we should emphasize natural materials, and that teachers should consciously choose open-ended playthings and supplies for the home or classroom that will nourish a young child’s senses. It’s true, sometimes the toys and supplies made from beautiful, natural materials DO cost more, and well, rightfully so. They are often handmade, and they are worth more than their plastic counterparts, plain and simple. This leads me to my next thought.
At no point did Steiner ever say that we must buy all the same things that other Waldorf-inspired families own. Nor did he say that we must teach our children in exactly the same way. In fact, he was pretty clear about that,
“According to each teacher’s individuality, outer forms of teaching may vary enormously in the different classes, and yet the fundamental qualities are retained…in a Waldorf school outer forms do not follow set patterns, so that it is quite possible for one teacher to teach his class of 9 year olds well, while another who takes a completely different line, can be an equally good teacher…and as long as the teacher feels in harmony with the underlying principals, and with the methods employed, he must be given freedom in his work instead of being tied to fixed standards” ~ Rudolf Steiner
A good Waldorf education will not fit in a standard sized box. More importantly, it will not necessarily resemble what our Waldorf friends and neighbors are doing either. A pinecone you find on your daily walk can become a doll, or a loaf of bread, just as easily as it can become a large bear lumbering through the woods in your afternoon story. Before making any purchase, consider asking yourself, “Is this toy (or school supply) helping to nurture a spiritual depth and creative thinking within my child? Do we currently own something that can be used to the same end? Could we make something similar ourselves?”
My husband and I have spent the past couple of years distilling our decade of experiences in Waldorf classrooms down to the most essential components. We’ve been looking at what is really important. Our new online course, Waldorf Art for Beginners, is one product of this distillation process. While planning it, we asked ourselves:
- What art tools and supplies does a family just getting started with Waldorf education really need?
- What’s worth spending money on, and what’s not so important?
- What are the most basic skills they’ll need to move forward with chalk-drawing, watercolor painting, and using block crayons?
Our new course contains the answers to all these questions in one place. There are video tutorials, URL links, and written content galore — all designed to help ease you into this journey, and to help you wade through at least some of the options you will encounter.
Does this sound like the kind of support you’re craving? You can learn more the course here. Also, we’ve created a 15% discount code just for readers of The Parenting Passageway…we’re so excited to have you join us! Use PPDISCOUNT at checkout to make it happen. Registering before 3/5/16 will also get you our e-book, Paint with Watercolor: Pencils & Crayons, for free!
The decision to homeschool in a Waldorf-inspired way is going to take you on a beautiful journey! Our intention is that the work we do and the tutorials we provide will create a sense of ease around this for your family. We aim to provide the support that will keep families encouraged and confident, and allow you to find the JOY!
(Thank you so much to Waldorfish for this generous offer! I know my readers will love this so much)
All About Robyn Wolfe: An early career as a park ranger led Waldorfish.com co-founder Robyn Wolfe, to her love of illustrating and education. Trained as both a public school and Waldorf teacher, she has been involved in art + education for over 20 years, including homeschooling one of her two children. Robyn is currently working as an illustrator and as the manifestor of the creative vision held by the Waldorfish team. Working out of the premise that life is short (but sweet!), she and her husband Brian empower soul-filled teachers & families to (re)find their JOY in teaching and making art. Robyn’s work has been featured in Amulet magazine, The Mother magazine, the children’s book The Journey of Analise, as well as Annapurna Living and the Pence Gallery.