I think there are significant ways that Waldorf homeschooling is different than a school. Here are a few of the ways I think it can be very different:
- I think at home we tend to read aloud more. We may tell stories for the main lesson, but I think in general we also have read-alouds going more frequently and in the upper grades (5th or 6th through 8th) we most likely are getting stacks of books out of the library on different subjects we are studying. I found this especially true this year in eighth grade.
- Your Waldorf homeschool may look differently, but I have talked to so many Waldorf homeschooling families over the years, and have come to the conclusion that because we are the ONLY one teaching, there is essentially the main lesson period (s) and (depending) a handwork period or a foreign language period. With multiple children needing multiple main lesson periods, (even with combining grades), that might be all the time in a day we have. Some mothers seem to hit their max at two separate main lesson periods a day, some can do three separate main lesson periods, but I have not talked to ANY families running more than three separate main lesson times – so if you have three or more children, you may really need to get creative! I think this is also true when you are combining main lesson blocks with academic subjects that need to run all year for homeschooling high school.
- We have to be more creative than a school about combining things, simply because we are working across grade levels and ages. We discover this whether it is main lessons combining children closer together in age or doing some studies that everyone can participate on in some level, or (gasp!) using Old Testament Stories for all the first through third graders and knowing it will speak most strongly to the third grader in the bunch, but that great stories are great stories! Some examples of the above spring to mind: botany and Man and Animal blocks also come to mind as ones that everyone can participate in on some level; we can also combine things of a similar vein such as Ancient Mythologies (5th grade) with fables of 2nd grade, or when homeschooling children only one year apart in school, we can come up with how we place blocks at the beginning or ending of a school year based on the age and developmental needs of the two children in front of us who need to be combined. We can also look deeply at the developmental indications and see what different streams meet these needs. For example, if you covered Roman History in sixth grade as a developmental part of bringing order out of chaos, and you have a fifth grader entering sixth grade in the fall the following year, perhaps you will cover the feudal system of Japan as a similar way of getting at this development soul level. There are many creative ways to approach the developmental needs of the child.
- Some things we just have to let go because we are not in a school setting. For example, in many families I have talked to around the country and world, many students transition from recorder/diatonic flute to some sort of instrument they can play in a community setting after third or fourth grade. Some families have decided that foreign languages are going to have to wait until middle school or later when more community-based classes are available. In the beginning of homeschooling, it is often very hard to think of making such choices and we want our Waldorf homeschooling experience to look like a Waldorf School. However, what happens often when we let some things go is that we discover and place our families’ priorities first, whether this is that we all require and have to have hours of movement a day, or we have a spiritual or religious life that requires daily excursions to a place of worship, or we discover we value traveling. These things all matter and can be explored in the context of homeschooling.
- We homeschool to be out in life, not in a separate building for a school day. We must be home in order to Waldorf homeschool, but days of hiking and field trips and such are things are so very fundamental to the homeschooling experience. As homeschoolers, we may have the ability to participate in these things more frequently than in a school setting, and especially as our children enter the years past the nine year change, we should be able to place our rhythms around some of this.
Tell me how you think Waldorf homeschooling differs from a school setting! I would love to hear from you!