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

Lovely Links

 

Here are some lovely links for the end of May.

 

This one from Sheila over at Sure As The World for second grade:  http://sureastheworld.com/2014/05/20/the-canticle-of-the-sun/

 

Homeschooling children who are adopted:  http://simplehomeschool.net/adopted-child/

 

Kara’s post about the joys of older children:  http://simplekids.net/lets-hear-it-for-the-big-kids/

 

An interesting article here (scroll down) by Dee Coulter about Montessori and Steiner:  http://www.waldorfresearchinstitute.org/research-from-waldorf-education/

 

Please share the blog posts and articles you have been finding inspirational lately in the comment box below.  I would love to hear from you!

Many blessings,
Carrie

Notes for Preschool Planning

 

“I also did not like the word “preschool” since it implies that somehow the learning done before age 5 is not valid.  In my mind, there is no such thing as “pre” school.  In most European countries, there is not even such a word as preschool.  The children attend daycare until age 6 and then start formal education at age 7.  When I attended an international conference, the European participants thought it was quite humorous that I kept referring to our young preschoolers as students.  This showed my cultural bias in that we think of even our youngest children as responsible for measurable learning.

– From “Forest Kindergartens:  The Cedarsong Way” by Erin K. Kenny

 

If you are planning for preschool, (and you can see more about what I think about “preschool” here:   https://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/11/11/waldorf-101-waldorf-preschool/),  focus on a strong component of rhythm to your days being present together at home.  The things that preschoolers are working on – washing themselves, using the bathroom, the gentle rhythm of setting things up for a snack or lunch and then washing dishes and clearing plates – those extraordinary moments of everyday life is what the core curriculum for preschoolers should be. Continue reading

Multicultural Reading Lists

 

 

These are a few of the reading lists I have for multicultural children’s literature for the English speaking reader:

 

Children’s literature by Native American authors – from preschool through high school/adult reading: http://www.slj.com/2013/11/collection-development/focus-on-collection-development/resources-and-kid-lit-about-american-indians-focus-on/#_

 

One of the best sites I have found for African American children’s literature:  http://www.best-childrens-books.com/african-american-childrens-books.html (by grade and also award winners by year).

 

For Asian/Pacific Rim children’s  literature:  http://childrensbooks.about.com/gi/o.htm?zi=1/XJ&zTi=1&sdn=childrensbooks&cdn=parenting&tm=103&f=20&su=p284.13.342.ip_&tt=3&bt=5&bts=75&zu=http%3A//www.nea.org/grants/29506.htm  and here:  http://www.cynthialeitichsmith.com/lit_resources/diversity/asian_am/asian_am.html (if you look on the sidebar there are links to books of Chinese heritage, Japanese heritage and Korean heritage).  There are also literature  awards focused on Asia/Pacific Rim Children’s Literature.  The award winners for 2013 are here:  http://www.apalaweb.org/2013-asianpacific-american-award-for-literature-winners/

 

For children’s literature by Latino authors, by grade level:  http://ccb.lis.illinois.edu/Projects/Additions%20on%209-20-07/CCB/CCB/mhommel2/Booklists.htm

 

For children’s literature regarding the Middle East:  http://www.pragmaticmom.com/2011/08/top-10-arabic-american-childrens-books/  and an extensive list here:  http://bernadettesimpson.com/Childrens-YA-Books-MiddleEast.pdf

 

If you have a list on your blog of your favorite children’s literature as related to your religion or your cultural heritage, please leave a link in the comment box so my readers can find it!

Thank you,

Carrie

May: Time To Plan

 

Usually one of three things happens during the homeschooling year:

Life intervenes and the entire year is rather chaotic.  Yep, that happens.

The school year starts off strong, and then life intervenes and is rather chaotic.  Yep, that happens too.

Everything goes as perfectly planned.  Nope, that really doesn’t happen too often.

 

Homeschooling calls for flexibility, an ability to work with life throws at you, often an ability to juggle different roles of being a parent/spouse/homemaker and to juggle children of a wide spread of ages and stages and temperaments.  All of this really requires an ability to get organized and work with planning as a tool.  This is important especially for Waldorf homeschooling.  Planning is everything in Waldorf homeschooling, and it really can help save you when life intervenes.

 

So, how is it coming with planning?  The last posts in this series were in February and March (you can see March’s post here:  https://theparentingpassageway.com/2014/03/27/march-time-to-plan/)

 

This is where I am so far in planning a five year old kindergarten year, fourth grade and seventh grade:

I planned my start and finish dates and vacation dates based off of the two counties where my children have friends on different school schedules.  I didn’t do that this year and ended up regretting it.

I marked out “teacher time”.  Plans made over the summer often need adjustment, and at any rate, one needs to look things over and live into the material before the block begins.

I went through all the months of this past year and wrote down any details I wanted to remember – which months did life hit us hardest, how I felt inside, how the children seemed to feel, seasonal details about each month or details related to feasts of the church.

I thought very seriously about extra-curricular activities and how many days we can really be out of the home each week – and what time we will finish school each day and really can realistically make it out to something.  The out of the house rhythm I have discussed with my husband, because whereas I am a “yes” kind of girl, “yes, let’s do that!” he is much more practical in terms of looking at how much time we can sustain outside our home.

I made out a sample daily rhythm for all three children.  That, to me, is the hardest part, as I often don’t feel as if there are enough hours in the day to meet everyone’s needs with three separate ages of children – early years, mid grades and late grades.

I created my “wheel” of the year – you can see details about that in the March back post.  I go mainly around the calendar of the Anglican Communion and have to plan in our feast and fast dates and dates where we will be out of the home due to church.  Remember, the cycle of the year is what holds all of your different ages and stages together for your homeschooling adventure!

I sketched out what blocks I think will go where in the year and how long those blocks most likely will be.  Subject to change!

I ordered most of my resources and started gathering various titles to get at the library.

I put together notes for two blocks for my seventh grader by day (but have not done any of the artistic work for those blocks ahead of time yet, which is often that part that takes me the longest after I read the resources and get an idea for the order of what to present when in the flow of a block).

I put together some general ideas about work each day of the week for my kindergartner, and ideas about stories for each month, crafts and handwork for festivals.

 

That is a start, but there is certainly a lot, a lot more to do!  I have to start now to really plan it all and fit it all in.  Most of this work is being created by me from scratch using different resources, as I am certain it is for you as well.

What are you planning?  I would love to hear!

 

Blessings,
Carrie