I have been thinking the “drop- off points” in Waldorf homeschooling (if families get through the second and third grade then it seems many drop- offs occur between fourth and fifth grade, again around sixth grade, and then again before high school. Lots of drop-off!). I find lack of curriculum and understanding how to develop academic skills a Waldorf way is a reason many parents cite.
I don’t think this should be so; Waldorf Education is supposed to be a rigorous education. However, skill development is often something that seems to be more of a subject of discussion in the “early grades” with Waldorf Education . For example, for the early grades, many of those “How Does Waldorf Education teach children to read?” or “What is the Waldorf approach to learning math?” articles abound. In general, I think we see less regarding academic skill development in the Waldorf community for grades 5 and up, and even less discussion for Waldorf homeschoolers regarding what needs to be done to prepare seventh and eighth graders for high school.
And yes, there are products on the market for some of these areas. However, I do not consider having only ONE product ( or even two!) that may or may not resonate with a Waldorf homeschooling family to be enough! Waldorf homeschooling families would also like to hear a variety of experiences and “how we really did this” for the upper grades especially, because these upper grades can vary considerably in experiences and skill levels. Waldorf homeschooling is not Waldorf School!
What I hear over and over from Waldorf homeschooling mothers regarding what they want in ” subject-specific ” curriculum is:
- Something for spelling by grade and block . Yes, the spelling words should be pulled out of the blocks, but I think homeschooling parents are searching for what spelling rules are taught when, how a spelling word is different than a vocabulary word,. and how spelling can be built upon year after year, block after block in a systematic way.
- Something for grammar by grade and block. This is a constant source of difficulty for most parents.
- Something for math, that includes MANY creative practice problems for daily use . Yes, there are guides, yes, there are Waldorf math books, but I think a few more options on the market to help parents along would be well- appreciated for the upper grades and high school. The amount of topics needing to be reviewed gets intense, and for those parents less well-versed in math, even something like mental math can be difficult to make up on one’s own. (For that matter, even parents with children in the early grades would like some more laid out mental math options. If a homeschooling parent has a child in first through third grade, chances are he or she may also have a kindy aged child and maybe a baby. We are sleep deprived! It is hard to create number journeys about gnomes and fairies for second graders when we are sleep deprived. :))
- Something for developing great writing skills for the middle school years. This is particularly needed for grades seven and eight as students look to transitioning into high school subjects. Between the idea of an “animal report” in fourth grade and a “state report” in fifth grade, and the standard “Wish, Wonder, Surprise” block in seventh grade (which sometimes works well in the home environment and sometimes not!), I think parents are often left wondering what they should be doing step by step in writing instruction, especially if writing is not their forte.
- Along this vein, more ideas for general preparation for high school.
- For the upper grades, more ideas for blocks and how a block can look very different from homeschool to homeschool… More of the “how” to teach these blocks and the academic skills that should be intertwining in these blocks. Many of these subjects in grades 6-8 are foreign to parents. Some parents never had Roman History, for example, in high school or college. It is a lot to put together every block with no background, and it is a lot to learn about every subject from scratch well enough to teach it to your child (plus figuring out HOW to teach your students the academic skills using this subject as vehicle). Parents get frustrated or simply are scared off because they think Waldorf homeschooling is no longer for them because they don’t know much about these subjects, let alone how to teach these vast subjects in a “Waldorf Way”. I personally want Waldorf homeschooling parents to feel very supported in these upper grades and high school so they don’t give up!
- In that vein, we could use more high school products to choose from.
What products would YOU love to see on the Waldorf homeschooling market?
Blessings and love,