Waldorf homeschooling can seem like such a hard thing to penetrate! It has a lot of moving parts so to speak – blocks, practice lessons, plus all the wonderful arts of drawing, painting, handwork, modeling, drama/speech, movement, choral music, instrumental music – it can just plain seem overwhelming!
Most Waldorf homeschooling mothers are some of the hardest-working homeschooling mothers I know. They are devoting HOURS to planning multiple, which is something Waldorf classroom teachers may not totally understand. I encourage everyone to NOT do more than three main lessons a day. Many mothers will combine multiple children into one of the those “three main lesson” slots in order to condense things down to three main lesson slots.
I am in the midst of reading “Roadmap to Literacy” (review to come, but it is 600 pages and it seems I am reading it rather slowly!) and one mention in there is about Waldorf Schools devoting nine main lesson blocks and nine practice blocks of academic skills a year to each grade. I found this interesting, because whilst I believe in practice, I find most homeschooling mothers are really doing well if we can get through two to three main lessons a day plus run our homes, take our children where they need to be, and do some of those other arts that are harder to fit into a main lesson – music lessons for older children come to mind, and social opportunities since we are at home! I have been encouraging mothers to do less main lesson blocks a year for this reason – breathing room!
But the truth is that even with cutting back, many of us are spending a lot of hours planning. And these are hours that many mothers feel like they are missing and not being present for their children. What to do?
Here are a few thoughts:
Homeschooling is a job, and therefore takes time. However, you have flexibility with your time. It can take discipline to start planning earlier in the year so you can plan only an hour or so a day, but it could be worth it for you and your family. Or it might be worth it if your children are older to take a mini retreat – two nights away and get organized and feel super efficient! I think looking at homeschooling supplies around April and ordering, and then planning June – July daily during a downtime for your family (morning if no one are early birds, afternoon nap time, or evening after children go to bed) can be helpful.
In order to be efficient, you have to have resources. There are a few resources for free out now, such as Waldorf Teacher Resources and Waldorf Inspirations, and the wonderful blocks from Marsha Johnson held in her free files over at firstname.lastname@example.org. Pick one or two and then just go with it. You don’t need every resource on the market to create a magical year!
I still am sticking by less overall blocks per year, (go check out my block rotation plans for third and eighth grade on IG @theparentingpassageway and less weeks of school per year. If you plan 32 weeks, I can almost guarantee it will stretch into 36 weeks for most families unless you have a really motivated child that is completing projects and main lesson pages on their own time.
In order to become proficient with skills, you might need to practice yourself. You can do this in as little as ten minutes a day. I used to do form drawing for ten minutes a day; I have set up an ironing board with paints and paper in my bedroom and bounced out of bed and painted for ten minutes a day. Instead of thinking you need hours a day to plan or practice, consider the value of the small chunk of time.
Spend time in nature every day with your children. You will feel like you are holding the space well, and nature bathing is so helpful for everyone!
Plan some weeks to NOT plan. Whether you travel or staycation, we all deserve a break!
Lastly, take care of yourself. If you feel drained, exhausted, scattered and your health is terrible because you aren’t taking care of yourself, it will be hard to plan. It may be you don’t plan or you decide to plan on Sunday nights for the week ahead and only plan one week at a time. If you homeschool long enough, you will have an off year. Sometimes that just happens! The best thing is to take care of yourself – exercise, cook healthy meals, pray and meditate, laugh, plan a night out with your spouse or with friends. These things are important and cannot stop with homeschooling!
Would love to hear your suggestions!
Thanks for posting this! My resources are free too. Waldorfcurriculum.com
This is so timely for me…as most of your posts are! I was just reviewing my block plans last night and thinking how neat and tidy and lovely it all seems at this time of year…and how the reality always unravels and gets messy. Ah, life. Thanks for the reminder to scale back now!
I love the idea of planning fewer blocks. I really appreciate hearing from you that more than 3 main lessons a day really isn’t a reasonable expectation. I’m planning for grades 9, 6,4, 1, and also have a 3 year old and plus I babysit my toddler nephew several days a week. Planning was giving me anxiety since I just couldn’t figure out how to add hours to the day. I’m glad it’s not just me overwhelmed by the thought of 4 main lessons and life:)
Yes, in your case I would put grades 4 and 6 together as much as possible, probably grade 1 separately for at least some blocks, and grade 9 and grade 6 might be able to go together for a few topics depending upon how things go. Four main lessons is just too much I think unless you really have to – some who have 6 or 7 children really do have to do four main lessons and in that case sometimes they will alternate days for children in some way so there is no more than 3 main lessons a day. Hope that helps! Blessings, Carrie
Hi Carrie, This is a great post! I am trying to balance my summer and planning right now, too. I have been doing this for more than 10 years and I still feel like I spend all summer reading and researching and never have a workable day to day plan ready. I have a solid monthly block plan and am starting on weekly topics right now. How many details do you plan over the summer? I would love see some examples of what summer planning looks like for others. Thanks!
Hi Sarah! I would say my practice skills kinds of sessions for math and language arts instruction are pretty planned out; my blocks are planned out with the basic elements of opening activities, review/working with material artistically and academically and new content, but I often don’t know what artistic element I will do until the night before. ❤ Hope that helps! Blessings, Carrie
Thanks for posting this. I am trying to balance my summer and planning right now, too.This is so timely for me. I would like to see more update about it.
Hi Judy! My general update is I am done planning all the blocks for eighth grade, but I used some of the blocks I had already used in the past, so that wasn’t as intensive planning as usual…Third grade I am up to about March and it is taking more time because I have had to carefully think about the academic side of things.. How are you coming along? Blessings, Carrie
Great advice, Carrie! Homeschoolers need this reminder to BE with our children in the midst of all the DOING for our children…we are mother’s first! Thank you for this!