There is so much chatter on the Facebook groups and on IG regarding Waldorf Curriculum and finding a curriculum that matches the family. Usually this means a family wants a more open and go curriculum where they don’t have to spend hours putting things together or adding to a curriculum, or it may mean they are searching for a more multi-cultural approach than what is out there currently.
This is a challenge, because at its heart, Waldorf Education is a way of educating and developing yourself, as the teacher, a way of understanding the development of the human being as a spiritual being and THEN bringing to life the indications that Rudolf Steiner left behind to the specific student in front of you also tailored to the specific place and culture in which you live. On top of that, the indications most developed was in this work was developed by the Waldorf Schools, and as we all know, school is not home. Certain blocks, which may or may not reflect your heritage or culture, are matched to the archtypal developement of the human being, but perhaps don’t resonate with you. What a challenge!
To make things more complex. there are not many choices on the Waldorf homeschooling market compared to homeschooling curricula and products in general. I think there is room for more products to emerge, not less. Each curriculum has a different voice, just as in a Waldorf School each classroom teacher has a different voice and way of doing things. True Waldorf Curriculums are not really open and go as they are supposed to guide a teacher toward creating their own stories, finding the things that really speaks to that teacher/classroom or teacher/student dyad. In this way, it is a lot like parenting and finding your own empowered voice to bring this to life for your children.
However, I understand:
- Being new, never having seen a Waldorf School and trying to Waldorf homeschool
- Living in a place that has ZERO support. There are absolutely no other homeschoolers Waldorf homeschooling!
- Wondering why things are they way they are – why are there Hebrew Stories in Third Grade? Why are there Ancient Mythologies in fifth? Why can’t we find much about America in the curriculum and as an American what can I do with that?
- What can I adjust/change and what do I really need to leave into the curriculum for my homeschooled student?
- Making main lessons work for our family – Waldorf teachers often can’t imagine teaching three main lessons a day or combinbing main lessons, yet Waldorf homeschooling mothers do this EVERY DAY. We rock!
It can feel frustrating! So here are my ideas about curriculum and making it work for you:
- Look at the blocks brought by the schools in your region. You can easily search Waldorf Schools all over the world from your computer. Many blocks are the same across the world, but sometimes there are different ones tailored to place and culture. These give us the glimmers into what can be that also had a solid pedagogical foundation.
- That being said, don’t give up on the traditional blocks completely- find a way to bring in what your family needs. I wouldn’t eliminate a traditional block because there are specific reasons for that block to be there as it relates to childhood development, but I would consider adding a block or adding stories for handwork, painting, modeling, cooking, festivals that reflect our individual place and time within an understanding of the development of the child. I have done back posts tracing what I see as some of the ways to put Latin America and Africa into the blocks here: Extending Africa Through The Curriculum. Extending Indigenous Cultures Throughout The Curriculum Extending Latin America Throughout The Curriculum
- Stick to a curriculum and do your best to make it work. Work with the author(s) of that curriculum in consultations! It is much easier than skipping around in the long run. You will develop a system (and it will be simpler than trying to gather from 20 resources unless you use 20 library books to put a block together, which is what I do a lot). You can see more about choosing a curriculum here: Which Waldorf Curriculum Should I Buy?
- Read Rudolf Steiner’s lectures. Yes, I know for some people they are difficult. Or you don’t agree with everything in them. That’s okay. His work will change you and your view of the human being regardless. I suggest “Discussions With Teachers”, “Practical Advice To Teachers”, “Education for Adolescents” for the grades, and “Kingdom of Childhood” and “A Child’s Changing Consciousness” for those of you with small children.
- Work with art. I used to set up an ironing board in my bedroom with paints mixed, water ready and paper and jump out of bed in the morning and paint for ten minutes when I had tiny children. If you aren’t a little bit hungry and willing to DO something, this form of education may not work for you and your family in the long run. And that’s okay, but if your goal is to make this work for your family, you are going to have to work a little.
- Work with your own biography. The book I used in Foundation Studies, which is the introductory training you must complete before Waldorf teacher training, was “The Human Life: Understanding Your Biography,” by George and Gisela O’Neil. I also have gone chapter by chapter through Betty Staley’s book, ““Tapestries”,” which is another good one.
- Consider community. You may find non-Waldorf people who can knit and help you and your children learn. You may form a study group to read Steiner’s lectures or books related to Waldorf Education or a group to paint together or a group for festivals. All the workshops and study groups I have been in have really helped by journey and even if I stopped doing Waldorf Education tomorrow, I wouldn’t regret that time because it helped me understand myself and the human being better.
- Patience. “Doing Waldorf” isn’t add -water instant. It is a journey and a growth process. Your Waldorf may not look like someone else’s. Capitalize on your strengths and slowly work to bring in the things you are less sure of.
If you need help and would like a consult with me, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I do phone consultations at different points during the year, and will be opening up a few slots in December for a mid-year check in.
Lots of love to you all,