A dear friend and I were talking about homeschool planning the other night, and I thought of a few things that veteran homeschoolers often take for granted in the ” pre-planning” stage that I wanted to share. Here are a few things to think about before sitting down to plan:
Do you understand what the essence of each grade is about and why, and how the pieces work together? In Waldorf homeschooling, this is really important, and it is what makes this type of education healing and healthy for the child. For example, why form drawing in this grade and what is the goal, why is math this way in this grade, why knitting what you are knitting in this grade, etc. One way to figure this out is often to look at resources that talk about the curriculum as a whole (Waldorf Curriculum Chart, Rawson’s The Tasks and Content of the Waldorf-Steiner Curriculum, and others). The other way to figure this out is to read what Rudolf Steiner said. “Discussions With Teachers” and “Practical Advice to Teachers” are often helpful to me over the summer before planning a new school year.
Do you understand what a block is and how to make a block plan – for example, how many blocks of math, how many blocks of stories/language arts for the year and also how to spread the new content material over a block?
Do you understand the moving parts of a main lesson and how sleep works with those parts? To me, the parts of the main lesson in the home environment (after the warm up or circle time) include initial review (the hardest part and often most overlooked part to plan), the artistic and/or skill capacity response to the material from the previous day and the new content. The order of these things can be interchanged as you, the teacher, see fit, but these parts are generally there. I think this is the hardest part to grasp, actually. The review is typically glossed over in most Waldorf Curriculums as well. The other part I think that could be better fleshed out in most curriculums is actual progression and development of academic capacities. Take some time to really think about these parts. What do you really want your child to accomplish? What new content do you think is really most important and indicative in a certain block for a certain grade? You can do this!
Do you have resources? In the lower grades, this doesn’t need to be complicated. In fact, it is quite easy to find books of fairy tales (grade 1), folk tales/trickster tales/animal legends/saints tales (grade 2), stories of the Hebrew people (grade 3), etc at your local library. Grades 6-8 take a longer time to piece a narrative together for history, for example, and I often need multiple books on one topic in order to flesh it out. For example, I have a bin of books stored in my garage for each grade, but freely admit for grades 3 and 4, I have two bins and grades 6-8 have three bins of books to choose from in putting together blocks.
Once you have these things in place, then you can start with your yearly plan (what dates your school year will run to and from, vacation dates, how many days a week you will school); your weekly plan (what days will you be out of the house? what rhythmic activity will you do on the same day each week?); and then your daily plan (how will your day be structured?) Remember, your plans will look different from another homeschooler’s plans, because homeschooling is about your particular family.
Then you can start filling in the details – what will you do for circle time or warm up, how you fill out the content across the days of a block, how will you review, what will the artistic or skill development response be?
I hope that helps! One day I would really love to put together a little video and show you all these steps.