An Oxymoron or To-Do Lists in my Waldorf-Inspired Home School

Cute but unrelated picture by Wigeon.

Cute but unrelated picture by Wigeon.

We started our school year at the end of August with a robust rhythm. Our daily doings were crafted around the main anchors of the day (rising, meals and bedtime) and I had come up with what seemed a beautiful, but very full, unfolding of activities throughout the day. After a few weeks, I noticed that the rhythm I had crafted felt burdensome. There was often down time between main lessons and household activities when I just wished the kids knew what to work on next without my direction. Another problem was that there wasn’t enough time during the two big kids’ main lessons to accomplish everything relating to the main lesson. There also wasn’t enough time during their main lessons to work together on math or grammar (I have been using a non-Waldorf grammar program starting in fourth grade-ish) that needed to be redone because of errors.

After a few more weeks of struggling to stick to our rhythm, I came up with a solution. I woke up one morning and created a little spreadsheet for each child which I filled with work that I wanted them to accomplish that day. This ‘to-do’ list became a way for me to break out some of the tasks that I wanted them to accomplish in regard to the main lesson, but with which I didn’t want to take our daily main lesson time. It also gave them a list of things that they could be working on when I needed to change laundry or do something related to maintaining the household or spending time with my three-year-old.

Here is an examples of a to-do list:

Seventh Grade

  • Read: Shabanu 30 minutes
  • Math: Finish Measurement Sheet #5 (from Jamie York’s Making Math Meaningful)
  • Grammar: Lesson #40
  • Poetry: Copy “When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer” in to Poetry MLB
  • Edit and Copy  ocean currents write-up into MLB
  • Main Lesson: Astronomy with mom (During this time, I present new material do any creative activity associated with it, painting, sculpting, etc.)
  • Fold and put away laundry

Often I’ll put things on like “Paint with mom” or “Review measurement sheet 2 with mom” or “Present poem to mom” when I want to make sure that they do the work WITH me. I’ve told them that whenever it says that are to work with me, it will be when I call them!

This has been working really well for us! Our daily rhythm is still intact, but there is more flexibility for me! What does our day look like now?

  • Rise & Dress, Do Morning Chores
  • Breakfast & Dishes
  • Scripture Reading and Journaling
  • Both kids usually choose to read independently first thing, which gives me time to create their daily lists.
  • Big kids begin working on tasks in any order they choose, while I sing and tell a story to my three-year-old.
  • I do main lesson with first child and work on anything else that requires mom. The second child is working on their tasks.
  • Lunch & Walk
  • I do main lesson with second child, while first child finishes their tasks.
  • Teatime and Tidy
  • Play time and/or outside activities
  • Dinner
  • Freetime
  • Bedtime

When I look at it, our rhythm is pretty much intact, only the details of how it gets done have changed. We also seem to be ending thirty minutes sooner than we used to, which is a bonus for everyone! When you think Waldorf, you don’t generally think to-do lists, but it has really helped in maintaining a healthy feeling in our home.

What are your tricks for getting everything done during the day?


Hitting Reset

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The little Waldorf coop we belong to was scheduled to go to a local Aviary this morning. It would have been fun and we love seeing our friends, but we needed a day out. Really out. In the mountains. We hadn’t seen the golden aspens nestled into the dark pines yet this year, and snow will soon fill up the canyons.

It was also a way for me to hit the reset button. I don’t know if you read Carrie’s post on The Parenting Passageway entitled How Old Are You? I have been feeling the way she described lately – although I love the home school lifestyle, I have been craving more time to myself. It may be the fact that the first block of seventh grade felt very uninspiring. Teal told me that ‘Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc’ by Mark Twain was the worst book I’ve ever made her read! Add to that the fact that I never got past the third chapter myself, and you see, it was just a recipe for disaster. I have also been feeling emotionally drained by activities I’m committed to, the responsibilities of a homemaker, and keeping up with plans my husband has. It feels like a big load to balance sometimes.

Even though we take a walk around our neighborhood every day, sometimes I’m desperate to get into nature; to drink the pine-scented air, to watch the squirrel wrangle a mushroom into the brush, to listen to the chatter of small mountain birds, to simply be with my children.

I found what I needed out there today. I will try not to wait so long next time.

How do you hit reset?