Waldorf Homeschool Planning: Hands, Heart and Head

It is that time of year in the Northern Hemisphere!  School here in the Deep South is ending this week for most of the public schools, and we are coming to a close fairly soon as well.  This year our oldest will be heading into homeschool high school in the fall, and we will also have sixth and first graders starting anew!  These  important transitions are all the more reason to get organized over the summer.  I find myself following essentially the same sorts of rhythms ever year and  it really seems to fall into a hands, heart, and head pattern:

Hands – I start packing up the books for each year into bins and start getting out the books for the upcoming grades ( I have so many books by grade that I essentially only keep the grades we are doing out and the seasonal books and the rest go into the garage).  I organize the bookshelves and the school room supplies and see what we need to purchase in terms of art supplies and science supplies.  I also see what might need to be made for the first grade stories for our littlest member.

Heart – I sit down with my planner and figure out approximate start and end times for the school year and vacations; how many weeks of school I think we will do (which is usually 34-36 to fit things in); and I remember  and remind myself “what” our family’s goals for education are; I go through my Pinterest boards for homeschooling planning and make note of things that stir my soul for this year; I observe where the children really are in all spheres of development.  Over the years, I have made so many of those “divide a piece of paper into 12 blocks” – where you  write down your festival days, in our case Feast Days of Saints, seasonal qualities for where we live – that I don’t really have to do that anymore, but I do go through my seasonal Pinterest boards and see what we might like to make or do or use to celebrate by month and write it down.

Head – This is the most time-consuming part.  This is where the rubber meets the road and I start to lay out blocks – what blocks will I teach, in what order, how long will the blocks be, what resources will I use (which could be a post in and of itself!), what will each block contain and I write it all up day by day.  This part will take me most of the summer, even having been through first grade twice before and sixth grade once before. I include not only the block work itself, but opening verses, poetry and movement and other notes.

I also think hard about the daily rhythm at this point.  How many teaching periods each day or per week can I reasonably handle and not feel crazy?  Where can I combine?  What do I need to let go of and what do we really, really need as a family to be happy together?   I am finding the older my first child becomes, things are shifting in my family.  All the family in the children have very different needs right now, and I have different needs than before as I approach the last half of my fortieth decade of life.

Lastly, I make a schedule for myself for summer planning.  When will I plan exactly?  That part is really important because the follow-through has to be there.

Would love to hear what you are planning for fall!



12 thoughts on “Waldorf Homeschool Planning: Hands, Heart and Head

  1. Wow, impressive. And I feel organized for knowing what’s for breakfast and dinner! I hope you do write more on where you learn what to include and how you choose which resources.
    You’re an inspiration as always! Thank you!

  2. Ps my boys will be 2 and 3 in the fall, so I hadn’t planned on planning at all…but now that I think about it, I wonder if laying out a few sensory bin ideas, crafts, stories and a few seasonal treats might be a good idea just to get some practice with planning? How did you start, with your first?

    • Nah, really it has just derived from years of doing it…you will come up with your own system! 2 and 3 would be “morning garden” aged for a Waldorf School so I would think simple fingerplays, festival activities. There are suggestions for “nursery” in the book “Dancing As You Sing” as far as suggestions for songs and circle time. Love, Carrie

  3. Hi Carrie.
    I have learned a ton from you and have tried to be on top of planning the last couple of weeks. I have my blocks and resources organized, but I am struggling with the daily lesson plans. I am feeling the constraints of trying to teach to a plan that was created a year ago. My son learned to read this last year (kind of all of a sudden) and a lot of our language arts blocks became a little irrelevant because I hadn’t planned on him advancing so fast. How do you allow for the flexibility of homeschooling while being true to the Waldorf blocks and timetable? I think I am at a bit of a crisis of trying to figure out if I really can do Waldorf with 3 kids and the ‘learn as we live’ philosophy is so tempting. 🙂

    • Hi Ruthann
      Glad you wrote in! I typically lay out my movement ideas, opening verse, poetry or songs, and Main Lesson with ideas for art and drama and such, but I don’t always lay out the academic pieces until we are there and I see where our capacities are being developed. Because you are right, many things can change quickly, particularly in the lower grades. That being said, I like to have a good idea of what I am focusing on in that block for academics – it is writing great sentences? Spelling with rules? Grammar? What part of fractions? and then adjust as we get there. Hope that helps, and thanks for writing in. I plan a lot and chuck a lot out in the moment and some great inspiration will meet me when I am with my child..I think that is how it goes. Prepare, and it germinates inside you, and it brings forth something new and wonderful in the moment.

  4. I’ve finished planning grade 4 for my daughter and am now wading through grade 7. The maths is now starting to be a challenge for me and I need to do lots of learning/research in maths and science to be sure I know the why of what we’re doing. We’re going slightly “off Piste” as we’ve spent all of grade 6 on ancient Rome and will spend all of seven on medieval history – but I love history and so does he so we’re being really thorough and slow. For geography we’re doing Africa and the “middle East” next year and I’ve found them fairly challenging to plan in a waldorf way – I need to allow myself some time to let things settle in me before I carry on, I think.

    • HI Lucy,
      That sounds lovely…For Africa, I can recommend the Waldorf resource by Betty Staley, “Hear the Voice of the Griot!” It is supposed to be coming out in a new edition (it might have a new title?), published by Rudolf Steiner College Press. Middle East can make sense in seventh grade, or you could save it and do it in Eighth Grade with modern history as many of the current boundaries were drawn after WWII. And yes, I think especially these deeper subjects they take time to digest.

  5. I am impressed you plan so far ahead. Knowing how long the planning I do do takes then planning for a whole year must a very big job. I tend to plan in several ways in the sense that I have big picture in my head for about three to four months ahead, a more detailed sketch for the coming month and the absolute detail for each day a week ahead. I don’t follow any curriculum but I would say I am Steiner inspired with other bits thrown in the mix too. I do like the idea of sketching in blocks of time for festivals as like you we have several we always observe/celebrate, when I am busy I can forget to include them and then have to hastily throw something together which never feels quite so heartfelt. There is always so much to think about so maybe a little more planning would be a good idea. Definite food for thought, thank you.

    • Hi Sustainablemum,
      I think it works out that way better for us because I don’t have the time during the school year to really sit down and plan out blocks. I can sit down and write a presentation, for example, on the fly but to really have to get a sense for a whole period in history or the entirety of a chemistry block or something like that, I just know I won’t have the time during the school year. I think that is how it evolved…

  6. Pingback: Momma’s Quiet Time | Happy Hedgehog Post

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