It has been amazing to see the growing interest in Waldorf or Steiner homeschooling on Facebook over the past year. Parents are out there in droves wondering how to get started, how to implement the philosophies, and which is the best curriculum to use. There are truly so many wonderful resources that it is hard to pick with which ones to spend our time! I started with Waldorf a little over four years ago. I remember the excitement I felt in finding an educational philosophy that honored children as children. I wanted all the information right then, but, as with any skill, you learn and grow and arrive bit by bit. It is with that thought that I offer the following curriculum suggestion, a suggestion that I believe to be at the very root of your home school:
YOU ARE THE CURRICULUM in your Waldorf Homeschool!
And not just Waldorf homeschools, but in any type of homeschooling, or public schooling family; YOU ARE THE CURRICULUM!
Those that have studied early childhood know that children learn by imitation. This is stressed in every single Waldorf early childhood book I have read. Your young child learns by watching you! And not just watching by you, they “feel” you. They pick up on your moods, your stress, and your joy. Then, after they watch and feel you, they begin to play it all out. I’m sure you’ve overheard your child practicing something you’ve said in a tone you’ve used! This is how they learn.
Well, guess what, that doesn’t end when they start in the grades. Your sixth grader is still learning by watching you! Don’t believe me? Just wait until the morning you are in your ratty pajamas, with your make-up smeared on your face because you didn’t wash it the night before, your hair unbrushed and you decide to get mad at your sixth grader because they didn’t hop up and get completely ready for homeschool to begin. You just might hear something muttered under their breath along the lines of “Yeah, like you got ready for school today…” You see, although your child is growing and may be entering the phase of rational thought and truth, they still learn by watching you!
If the truth that YOU ARE THE CURRICULUM feels unsettling, I want to offer this quote found in Beyond the Rainbow Bridge:
The growing and developing in the child listens to the growing and developing in the teacher. Therefore, just as much as the teacher works on himself, so much can he work on his pupils and so he can teach them. Education and self-education are one and the same. This knowledge takes away the sense of inadequacy. The question is not how far I have come and how much I can accomplish, but rather that I must constantly struggle. I can give to the children to the same degree that I work on myself.
Your sense of inadequacy vanishes when you realize that you teach according to your own struggle and developing, NOT according to how far you’ve come and how much you’ve accomplished!
So, allow yourself a deep breath. It really doesn’t matter which Waldorf curriculum you choose (if any!), there is good and bad in every curriculum. It really doesn’t matter how much knowledge or materials you have when you begin. What matters is how YOU are struggling, growing and developing. So just get busy doing with your children because YOU ARE THE CURRICULUM!