Which Waldorf Curriculum Should I Buy?

This topic comes up over and over again on Facebook groups, Yahoo Groups and in real life.  There is even a Facebook group devoted to sharing information about the different curriculums called “Waldorf Homeschool Curriculum Discussion”.

If you as a homeschooling mother have investigated Waldorf at all, then you probably realize that for the Early Years, under the age of 7, life and being home is the curriculum.  Play, meaningful work, rest, stories and songs and verses and being outside, along with seasonal activities IS the curriculum.   It is living and changing.  You don’t need to buy a curriculum for this, but if you feel you need verses, songs, or seasonal ideas, there are plenty of books, Pinterest boards and the like to demonstrate ideas.  You could also attend an open house if you have a Waldorf School near you and see a puppet show.  This is the time to develop your own skills, learn to be able to set a rhythm in your own home, and be a gentle leader in your own home if you plan to homeschool in the grades.  There is no “homeschooling” a four year or five year old in Waldorf!  You are living a beautiful life!  Life is the curriculum!

If you have investigated the Waldorf curriculum for the grades, you probably have seen there are certain subjects that Rudolf Steiner indicated as part of the development of the holistic human being by age, and there are some things built up in secondary pedagogy over these years as being done in certain grades.  You have to know enough to see how this curriculum can be adapted to your own unique geographical environment  (look at the manuals from the East African Waldorf teacher training curriculum and see how they adapt the curriculum for their country and continent) and most of all, to the unique child standing in front of you.  LOOK at the child right in front of you.  This is homeschooling, and homeschooling with Waldorf means you are a TEACHER.    It is not “child-led” but it is sensitive to the child based upon Rudolf Steiner’s view of development and how you, the teacher, brings it!

So this type of homeschooling takes work.    And that seems to scare many.   I  also feel many parents are interested in Waldorf Education because they perceive it as gentle (it is), child-led (it is not), nature-oriented (it is), easing into life in a more gentle way that is unhurried (it does, but then the other grades become VERY rigorous indeed).  The early years of play silks and wooden toys don’t last forever and wooden toys do not an early Waldorf childhood experience make.  Waldorf Education is about protection of the child, but it is also about bringing things at the right time developmentally and that does mean the world opens up, especially after the age of twelve.

The curriculums currently on the market include Celebrate the Rhythm of Life Living Curriculum Program,  Live Education, Waldorf Essentials, Earthschooling, Lavender’s Blue, individual offerings from Rick and Jennifer Tan at Syrendell and Marsha Johnson at her Yahoo Group waldorfhomeeducators@yahoogroups.com and her on-line store The Magic of Waldorf, and  Christopherus Homeschool Resources, Inc.   I am not really including  Enki and Oak Meadow as they were written by former Waldorf teachers; Enki is closest to Waldorf pedagogy our of the two, but each are there own distinct programs with their own scope and sequence.  So these are more “Waldorf-inspired”. Little Acorn Learning is aligned with Lifeways of North America, and is nature-based.  I don’t know of any other curriculum programs than these.   Also, please do not forget the myriad of resources available to Waldorf teachers that are also available to you through booksellers such as Rudolf Steiner College Bookstore or Waldorf Books. 

If you are not piecing together your own curriculum, (which I recommend you try to do, especially in the early grades when it is easier and you can get the hang of it), then you will have to sort through all of these options.  Most mothers I talk to say they would love to have enough money to purchase more than one curriculum because each one has its gems, its loveliness, and they like to combine pieces and resources.  In the upper grades, where there is much less in the way of curriculum to pick from, you will have to do this anyway. 

If you want to see my criteria regarding choosing curriculum, I suggest you look at this back post.  You can also look at this post about how to learn more about Waldorf Education and the suggestions there.    Look carefully at the credentials of the people writing the curriculum and how much they have extensively worked with children in real life . If you are writing a “Waldorf” curriculum and using that word – where is your training, Foundation Studies, workshops that helped train you in this method?  I think all of these things combined make a “curriculum” worth looking at.

Blessings,
Carrie

“I Have a Four Year Old and A 20 Month Old and I Just Found Waldorf….Now What Do I Do?”

This question, or a variation of this, comes up on all the Waldorf Facebook groups frequently. It is a not a bad question, of course,  but also a challenging one for a “sound byte” medium such as Facebook because it deserves a full answer as to what the essence of Waldorf homeschooling is really about.  Waldorf homeschooling is really about much more than the outer aspects of Waldorf that are touted on some of these groups, because it is the “inner” Waldorf life that really creates Waldorf homeschooling.

So, I am writing today to give some direction to those with small children who have just discovered Waldorf Education and are not sure where to go beyond the outer trappings of “stuff”.

I think the first aspect is to realize that Waldorf Education in the home first and foremost deals with a basis of attachment between parent and child.  This is the basis of homeschooling in general, and Waldorf homeschooling is no exception.  Therefore, you will need to be able to sort through literature about Waldorf Education and look at it through the lens of the home and family.  I suggest beginning by reading some of the articles from the Gateways Journal through the Waldorf Library.  The Gateways Journal deals with the Early Years child, mainly within a school setting, but much of it is also about development of the Early Years child in general and is therefore very valuable to the homeschooling parent.

Secondly, Waldorf Education is about developmental and holistic education based upon Rudolf Steiner’s pedagogical view of the child.  It would serve one well to delve deeper into this area so one knows whether Waldorf Education matches up to what one really believes. The first seven years are about a Continue reading

An Introduction to Waldorf Homeschooling

 

To me, there are five main areas which come together to compose a Waldorf homeschool:

The Inner Work and Inner Life of the Teacher – this is of paramount importance, and the basis and foundation of Waldorf homeschooling.  Who you are and where you are on your inner path and spiritual work  is more important than the subject you teach.  Your will, your rhythms, your outlook, your spiritual work, will determine far more for your child than anything else – especially in the world of homeschooling where you are both parent and teacher.

An Understanding of Childhood Developmental Phases – I write about childhood development extensively on this blog.  Suffice it to say the view in Waldorf Education is that the human being is a spiritual being and that we continue to change, develop and grow throughout our lifetime.

Temperament of the grades-aged child (and in the teen years, emotion and personality) – We need to recognize not only the temperaments associated with the various developmental stages, but also the temperament of  our own child and ourselves and how to bring balance to that within our homeschooling experiences.

An Understanding of the Curriculum and How to Adapt it to Your Child and Homeschool:  We can start with such things as Steiner’s lectures and the secondary literature of the pedagogy.  However, the time we live in, the local geography, customs, language, local festivals and cultural events are all points in which the learning experience starts within the child and the child’s world. So, therefore, we must be familiar with not only the curriculum, but also with our own child and our own observations and meditation as to what that child needs, and then how to have the curriculum fulfill the needs of the child.  Dogmatic story-art-summary rhythms are often not helpful in the home environment and there are many ways to bring the rhythms of Waldorf Education to the home.

An Ability to “DO”, rather than just read.  This includes not only the ability to hold a rhythm and be organized, but also the ability to learn new things for oneself both in the area of the arts and in academic subjects.  For example, few of us were taught geometry the way the curriculum is outlined, and one most be willing to take a subject, even a familiar subject and see how  to dig into it and look at it from a spiritual perspective and to view art as a spiritual activity.

Many blessings,
Carrie

Using Mainstream Math Resources for the Grades in the Waldorf Homeschooling Family

 

There has been some discussion within the Waldorf homeschooling community about when (or if)  to add in a mainstream math program  as supplementary practice for the Waldorf homeschooled child.  Homeschooling mothers often worry about daily practice in areas like math, especially if you live in a state where taking standardized tests or the possibility of your child attending public or private school is in the near future.   Here are a few of my thoughts and experiences about the mainstream programs folks are using and a few thoughts as to *how* to use some of these resources.  Mathematics in Waldorf Education has a developmental approach and often mainstream math programs do not share this same view so I think it behooves discussion and consideration in regards to how to add practice of math into the homeschool day.  I have included Making Math Meaningful and Math By Hand in this discussion, as I think they could be used no matter how one homeschools and these guides, while based in Waldorf Education, also seem to have an understanding of what is going in math education in all realms.

 

Grades One and Two:  I have seen Waldorf homeschooling parents use a mainstream math program in these grades, particularly if they were afraid they were going to have to put their child into public school at some point, or if they held allegiance to a particular math program (usually I see this in families who feel very loyal to Singapore or sometimes RightStart math from other homeschooling experiences).  However, I honestly don’t think you need a supplemental math program for these early grades where number sense is being developed.  Daily practice that you make up, along with the math blocks, should really be enough at this stage in my opinion so long as you are diligent with practice.  If you need a guide to this, please let me recommend Jamie York’s “Making Math Meaningful” for grades one through five (blue cover) and also the book “Games For Math” by Peggy Kaye. If you really feel as if you need “something else” in this stage, Math By Hand is a Waldorf-compatible resource that has some lovely hands-on kits to help you bring math in a visual way with certain activities and stories. Math By Hand runs first through fourth grades.  Continue reading

July: Time to Plan

 

Here in the Deep South, many homeschoolers will be starting school again in a few weeks.  I love this time of anticipation of fall, and am looking forward to heading back into some more rhythm.  The children seem ready as well, so we will continue to enjoy nature and all her summertime glory (and fall glory too, with camping and trips to the beach in the fall), but I am feeling more ready to get going!

 

I wanted to share with you some of my favorite resources for planning: Continue reading

Creating Your Own Forest or Farm Homeschool Kindergarten Experience

 

I have written about my  fascination with the forest kindergarten/farm school movement in back posts with detailed links.  I recently found this link interviewing Erin Kenny, founder of Cedarsong  Forest Kindergarten.  You can read that interview here:  http://www.safbaby.com/forest-kindergarten-a-better-way-to-teach-our-young-children.

I think the models we have for this  movement within Waldorf Education are places such as Nokken with Helle Heckmann (please see back posts on Nokken on this blog and also this link regarding  farm-based educator inspired by Waldorf Education:   https://www.biodynamics.com/farm-based-educators).

 

The major benefits of Forest School, as listed in the book, “Forest School and Outdoor Learning in the Early Years” by Sara Knight are increased confidence and self-belief; social skills with increased awareness of the consequence of their actions on other people, peers and adults and the ability to work cooperatively; more sophisticated written and spoken language; increased motivation and concentration; improved stamina and gross and fine motor skills; increased respect for the environment and increased observational skills; ability to have new perspectives and form positive relationships with others; a ripple effect to the family.

 

I have been thinking lately Continue reading

Are We Doing It All Wrong?

 

 

Here are some great links this week to make you stop and think.  Let’s all be the change we wish to see, advocate for our children, and keep the momentum I see happening in so many places at the grass-roots level in different states keep going.  This is how change often happens in the United States.  Be the change!

 

Do American parents have it backward?  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/christine-grossloh/have-american-parents-got-it-all-backwards_b_3202328.html

 

This article is a MUST-READ for all parents of small children.  Children do need rhythm, repetition, time to be outside, time to play in an unstructured manner.  They do not need lessons, or rigid adult-created games.   The adult is there primarily to “un-stick” play and to guide, to provide help for the ideas the children create, to have the environment and the rhythm in place.   Read more about the differences between what the differences between academic and play-based preschools bring here: http://www.janetlansbury.com/2012/06/dont-let-your-preschoolers-forget-how-to-play/ Continue reading