Today I submitted our Declaration of Intent to our state to homeschool for another year. Tenth, seventh, and second grade here we come! Eleven years of homeschooling! Eleven years of Waldorf at home!
What really makes a Waldorf home or a Waldorf homeschooling experience? Many families who are interested in Waldorf homeschooling and in creating a Waldorf home post on Facebook groups and in forums about creating a Waldorf environment in the home and seem much more interested in adding wooden toys and silks and such to their homes in an effort to make a Waldorf environment. I have written about this numerous times before on this blog, and I call this the “hands stage” of Waldorf homeschooling. It is the making of things, and the toys, that attract many without understanding much depth about Waldorf Education in general. This is not a bad thing, as this can morph into a greater feeling and thoughtfulness in understand the “why’s” of Waldorf Education in the future.
However, I believe that whilst wooden toys and silks are wonderful and good, it doesn’t take a lot of money to have a Waldorf home focused on simplicity and love. This is especially true as children age and the days of wooden toys and silks, (although still loved, because who doesn’t love beauty?), are gone. The basis of rhythm and some of the fundamentals of the Waldorf home still remain.
Some of the favorite things that I identify with a Waldorf home include:
Connection. If the heart of Waldorf Education in a school is about the social organism that the class becomes, Waldorf homeschooling is about the connection between family members and between family members and the community in which we live. It means developing compassion and kindness for all people; this extends throughout all ages and is a constant source of inner work for adults.
Rhythm. If one plans rhythm from your family values and according to the needs of all family members, rhythm is something that sustains you throughout all the years. Many of us still have baking day with teens in the house that we held when our children were tiny. The rhythm doesn’t have to change too much throughout the years, so long as you keep to…
Simplicity. In terms of time, this means making time for what matters. Simplicity is a key of Waldorf homemaking, so we can say no to things, even good things, and have time for the things that mean the most to us as a family. With the issue of things, it means valuing re-using, recycling, upcycling, and hand making things.
Boundaries. Rhythm and simplicity is also about boundaries, which is an important part of Waldorf Education that many parents overlook. Boundaries help our tiny children grow into self-assured young men and women who are differentiated from us and who can live life purposefully. Boundaries are not arbitrary, but based upon the understanding of the human being.
Low to no media, and I would add for older teens (high school), being able to see a computer or other tech for what it is – a tool. Again, this doesn’t have to change a lot with teens in the house. Tech can still be used and loved but also limited for time or content for the sake of balance, because even adults can have a hard time getting their footing with tech and phones. Again, working with these things requires a knowledge of the development of the human being.
Nature. Whilst many children become more sedentary the older they become, it doesn’t have to be that way. Providing opportunities to be outside many hours a day, working hard and playing hard, is something totally adaptable from tinies up through teenagers.
Work. Waldorf education not only values practicality and hand-making, but an experiential, working approach to life. Instead of just sitting and watching, the Waldorf home is about doing. We all take care of our home, each other, and our animals and plants because we are all connected.
Flexibility and problem-solving, being able to do positive, purposeful things for ourselves and others, clear thinking, creativity, kindness, compassion and connectedness are just a few things that become the foundation of character of children raised in Waldorf homes. This, to me, is the heart of the Waldorf home.
Much love to you all,