In the book, “Assessment for Learning in Waldorf Classrooms: How Waldorf Teachers Measure Student Progress Toward Lifelong Teaching Goals” by Ciborski and Ireland, the authors point out that: “Waldorf curriculum and pedagogy are flexible. A College of Teachers governs the pedagogy in every Waldorf School, and has the authority to approve changes and innovations to enable the school to meet the needs of its students and families…..Most schools include community service projects in the curriculum. Some schools have changed the foreign languages to reflect offered to reflect the ethnicities of the student body or surrounding community; some have increased time allotted to physical education and competitive sports popular in neighboring schools; most schools have incorporated environmental issues into science, geography, and other subjects. The curriculum is a guideline and is meant to be appropriate to the times and to the place as well as the age of the children.”
So, with this in mind you should feel FREEDOM to work within the curriculum.The curriculum itself is a spiral where if you cover grades 1-12, you will cover subjects and skills in greater and greater depth. Whilst the indications are based upon the indication of Rudolf Steiner and the many Waldorf teachers who have worked in Steiner Schools for 100 years, each teacher is charged with meeting the child in front of them and the needs of child within community.
The constants within this include:
- Seeing the child as a spiritual being that has an individual and community-centered destiny to fulfill – how does the human being relate to the cosmos, the earth, the time we are living in?
- An encouragement of the capactities of each individual child to become healthy, purposeful and one who values all of life; one who does what is right in a situation; one who can think independently, creatively. A well-rounded individual
In developmental stages of 0-7 (doing), 7-14 (feeling but not emotions all over but rather eliciting a connection to the material that draws forth an experience and helps develop compassion and morality), 14 and above in high school (thinking), we generally teach:
- Knitting in the early grades moving into more complex handwork
- Music (singing and playing instruments), games, dancing, festival celebrations are important and included
- The use of the arts to increase cognitive capactities
- Form drawing to increase the neural connections of the brain, practice for writing, moves into geometry
- Math – developing logic and math skills through games, recitation, practical life work, skill progression in all grades;
- The history blocks – myths and legends moving into proper history; all cultures and religious traditions are explored, turning points of history, great contrasts, great biographies, hope in strife
- Science – nature stories moving into phenomenological science involving all branches of all science.
- Language arts – reading, writing, speaking; great poetry and literature; stories from every culture and religion
Subjects are taught in blocks (one subject in a main lesson period of two hours a day for 3-6 weeks being typical) with practice sessions for math and language arts skills depending on the block being covered. This main lesson includes a rhythm of new work on one day, deepening of the material, reviewing practice the second day and the third day involves reinforced learning with collaborations in the classroom setting or writing or illustrations. Outcomes include projects, performances, projects, diagrams, drawings, written assignments, homework, tests, quizzes. The teacher is constantly developing themself through collaboration and nightly reflection.
I have heavily focused our homeschooling experience around service, the different stories of the peoples of the world, social and racial justice, and science, especially focusing on marine science, ecology, biology, sustainability. This is not to say we didn’t do math or sing or do handwork or read wonderful literature or do chemistry. I just think those were more our overarching themes perhaps. Your homeschool will look different! There are not many “Waldorf” curriculums to pick from on the market and honestly almost any material can be “Waldorf.” I use mainly used books and the library and yes pieces of varying curriculums (some Waldorf, some not Waldorf) to create my own experiences that intersect my family’s needs, where we live, and our religious beliefs as Episcopalians. I have used a variety of materials and at this point am rather eclectic within a developmental framework from my studies that makes sense to me. You can do this too! I have over 10 years of posts on this blog covering birth through mainly grade 10, with general posts about grades 11 and 12 and high school overall. We just graduated our first graduate this spring and she is off to a four year out of state university. You can do this!
If you are interested in homeschooling this way and not sure how to adapt it for you and your family, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or to set up a phone consultation.
This is within your reach and grasp! I feel homeschooling will be growing this year due to the uncertainty of #covid19, and now is the perfect time to start planning your year, and what you envision your children will need out of their education as results.
Many blessings and much love,