Category Archives: Parenting

The Real Curriculum in a Waldorf Homeschool

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!

An Ordinary Day

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I wake without an alarm. I am snuggled up with Wigeon who woke at three and needed her mama. I check my email while laying next to her. I also pop onto Facebook.  At 7:30, we get out of bed and wake Teal and Pintail. I knock on their doors and recite, “Morning has come, night is away. Rise with the sun, and welcome the day.” While they do their morning routine, Wigeon and I go to the kitchen and make Banana Oat Blender Pancakes, such a yummy recipe from the Beauty  That Moves blog.  It needs to sit for a bit, so I get dressed and brush my teeth before returning to cook the pancakes. Mr. Mallard joins us for breakfast. This is a new occurrence, but one that I like.

After breakfast Teal and Pintail take care of the dogs’ needs and then empty the dishwasher.  I do the dishes and we meet back at the kitchen table for prayer, scriptures and journaling. Then Teal goes off to practice the piano while Pintail reads aloud to me. We just started The Cay, I worry that it may be too mature for him, but it’s one of my favorite books and I think he will love it. I knit on his jacket while he reads. After fifteen minutes, we flip-flop and Teal comes to read The Bronze Bow while Pintail practices the piano. They have Federation in a couple of weeks and their songs sound so beautiful after hours and hours of hard work.

When reading and piano are done, Teal and Pintail head back to the kitchen table for math. In January, I changed our schedule to provide dedicated math time each day. I used to do math as part of their main lessons, but it was beginning to make the main lessons too long to juggle with a two-year-old in tow. In Waldorf schools, the upper grades always have dedicated math time anyway. While they begin flashcard or fact practice, I do Wigeon’s “main lesson.” She has taken to calling our time for poems, songs and a story her “main lesson.” It’s just about the cutest thing ever. I return to the kitchen table and help out with any math questions.

After math we go on a walk. It’s such a lovely day, unseasonably warm. We have a snack when we get home. It’s yogurt and crackers because I’m saving the last few slices of homemade bread for lunch.

Teal’s main lesson is first today.  After her opening verse, she works on finishing up a map of Europe. I let her listen to her book on tape while she is coloring and I correct an essay she has written about the bodies of water surrounding the European peninsula. When she is done labeling rivers and mountain ranges, we make sure the country overlay she made on a clear sheet protector lines up with the physical features map. I introduce her next project.  It’s an idea I found on a Waldorf School website to have her prepare a four-part presentation on a European Country. It will require an essay, map, artistic element and presentation. I’m glad to have found the project. She is excited about it.

We have lunch; homemade bread, nut butter and jam. Then the bigs go to their rooms for rest time.  Wigeon stays with me.  Some days she’ll go to her room for rest time and others she hangs around with me. I wish she would go to her room today because I am ordering her birthday present online and I don’t want her to see. I ask Teal to let Wigeon have rest time with her. She obliges after asking how much I’ll pay her…I look at bokashi kits while online and check Facebook again. There are a lot of good discussions on Waldorf Facebook groups, but I don’t have the time today because I decided to blog.

After rest time, it’s Pintail’s main lesson.  We are working on a clothing/fiber block using Marsha Johnson’s free resource from the Waldorf Home Educator’s yahoo group. We are looking at wool today, something Pintail is familiar with, but we get it wet and smell it. We burn a piece of it. We draw the cycle from sheep to cloth. Later this week, we will make a loom and weave some wool cloth. We studied leather on Monday and Pintail made some moccasins from a Boy Scout kit.  He has worn them all week. I love it! During Pintail’s main lesson, Teal is putting books on hold at the library and Wigeon is demanding attention. I put her shoes and coat on her and let her go out into the back yard with Roxanne, our Aussie.

We have been diligent at doing our housekeeping after the last main lesson, but the weather is so nice, I let the big kids go outside. I chop vegetables for dinner. We are trying a new recipe. Teal starts planning her garden bed.  She will garden this year to satisfy an achievement project for church. Pintail will get a bed to garden for school work. I’m expanding my garden into some raised cement planter boxes that used to hold boxwood shrubs.

I drive Teal to an outside class. I pass my dad on the way. He is in his truck driving home from work. I wave excitedly, but he doesn’t see me. I love that he works near enough that sometimes we see each other on the road. Wigeon falls asleep. That means she’ll have trouble going to bed tonight.

While Teal is at class. I return home and work on this post. I finish dinner. Wigeon is awake and she and Pintail are in the back yard playing with friends. I drive back to get Teal.

Dinner is put on the table when Mr. Mallard returns from work. We light a candle, it’s the one Wigeon decorated at a Candlemas gathering we attended, ask a blessing on the food, and eat. We recently started sharing our “Rose and Thorn” during dinner. I got the idea from an online workshop. Wigeon’s “Thorn” is always a rose and it’s so cute that she just shares the good things. Teal asks if we are having cookies after dinner, so I tell her she has to make them. I do the dishes and chat with Mr. Mallard. The kids play for a while.

Bedtime is just as I expected. Wigeon takes more than an hour to fall asleep and the minute I sneak out to join Mr. Mallard for an episode of Alaska: The Last Frontier, she appears at the top of the stairs. I tell Mr. Mallard goodnight, planning to just fall asleep with her. I’m confident that in the future, there won’t be children who need parents at night and we’ll have an abundance of time to unwind in the evening. Before Wigeon was born, we’d already arrived at that point with Teal and Pintail.

It has been a good day. A good, ordinary day.

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