Discovering Waldorf :: Waldorf Homeschool Tips

Welcome to our Discovering Waldorf Series, where everyday families share their Waldorf thoughts and experiences. Sheila is a Waldorf homeschooling mom of two boys, Grade 1 and Grade 5. She shares her wonderfully honest experiences and tips on how to come to Waldorf Homeschooling with an older child… it’s never too late!

 

Waldorf Homeschool Tips

by Sheila

First, I want to say “Thank you!” to Donni for giving me this opportunity to share a little bit of my story about coming to Waldorf with an older child. My hope is that these words will encourage another family who is trying to incorporate Waldorf inspired methods into their homeschooling. We came to Waldorf when my older son was 8 1/2 and my younger son was just 4. It was July and my plan was to begin a Waldorf grade 3 in September. Let’s just say, things didn’t work out as planned . . .


Pretty early on, I learned the outward symbols of Waldorf did not impart any of the intentionality, spirituality and simplicity I wanted in our home. Because, trust me, I tried to just “buy” Waldorf in the beginning. I spent a lot of money – this is not hard! – on art supplies, child-sized German brooms and dust pans, anthroposophical books that were (and still are) beyond my comprehension and a myriad of other wooden, silken and beeswax-covered items. I scattered these things around our home and hoped, like fairy dust, they would work their magic. Surprisingly, this did not happen.

When I first came to Waldorf, I kept coming across the phrase “layer it in.” It was being given as advice to build a solid foundation – don’t do too much at once, and add something new every year. I didn’t find this easy to follow. At the time, I had the mindset that I had to make up for all that we had missed. The clock was ticking and if I didn’t get it together right this very minute, well, all would be lost. This panicked thinking led to absolute overload, with me vacillating between over-functioning (trying to do everything) and under-functioning (doing a whole bunch of nothing). However, with the grace of hindsight, I would like to offer a few bits of advice I wish I could have given myself back then.

1. Slow down. Get a rhythm going.

I felt like I heard this word all the time when I first came to Waldorf: rhythm, rhythm, rhythm. I knew I wanted what it seemed to offer, but I didn’t know how to get it. Carrie over at The Parenting Passageway wrote a post in January of that year that really showed me how to bring rhythm into our day. Taking her advice, I began to write down, on a piece of paper, exactly how I wanted our day to flow. Every morning I would start with a list: breakfast, walk, circle time, main lesson, play, lunch, play, storytime, play, dinner, night routine, bed. Eventually, I could recite this list by heart, and then – slowly but surely – our days began to resemble the list, with one activity following the next. It was not seamless or effortless, but it was a start.


2. Go with your strengths.

There is a lot to learn when it comes to Waldorf: story telling, handwork, drawing with block crayons, wet-on-wet watercolor painting, beeswax modeling, celebrating festivals, baking bread, movement, verses . . . I could go on. This felt absolutely overwhelming and almost impossible. (Honestly, sometimes it still can.) Do you love to knit? Sing? Draw? Do puppet shows? Go with that and build from there! I love to cook and bake, so we began by making bread everyday. We made cheese, jelly and crackers too. We then started grinding wheat and baking with a sourdough starter. We also started something called “Soup Tuesday” where the boys were responsible for making homemade soup and bread for dinner on Tuesdays. This was not what I pictured homeschooling with Waldorf would look like in my home, however, it was one of the best things to come out of that year.


3. Limit internet time.

The truth is, when you homeschool with Waldorf, you are a minority within a minority. And usually the only people you “know” who are doing this also are through online groups and blogs. I was online a lot in the beginning. Melisa Nielsen’s Yahoo Group, Carrie Dendtler’s blog and Donna Ashton’s Global Waldorf Expo were my lifelines back then. Those three women have since become personal friends, and I honestly would not be where I am without them. However, there did come a point – about a year into homeschooling with Waldorf – that I made a conscious decision to drastically cut down my time on the internet. There is no right way to do this, but I consider myself lucky to have found a small online community of friends who bolster my confidence, encourage my efforts and above all make me feel good about what I am trying to do every day.


4. Don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle.

This is an anonymous quotation I discovered recently, and one I wish I had emblazoned somewhere very prominent when we first came to Waldorf. Beginnings are messy. They are not smooth, easy or placid. Coming to Waldorf late is a process that takes time. I may even go out on a limb here and say homeschooling with Waldorf – no matter when you come to it – is a process that takes time. If it speaks to you, if it feeds you, if you can catch glimpses of it changing you, your children and your family for the better, stick with it and give yourself that time. Listen to the whispers that speak to that part of you that resonated with Waldorf in the first place. Focus on that and ignore the rest for now. You will get there.


5. Take the long view.

Waldorf doesn’t happen overnight. It doesn’t happen in a week or a month or even a year. In the beginning, I felt like I was treading water in the deep end of the pool, desperately trying to keep my head above water. I was vulnerable, scared and thought about quitting many times. I can honestly say, homeschooling with Waldorf  has been one of the hardest things I have ever done, yet four years later it continues to expand my understanding, express my deepest desires and exhort my better angels. For me, this path allows me to be more fully engaged in my parenting, my spirituality and my everyday life. If you would like to read more about my journey of homeschooling with Waldorf inspired methods, please visit my blog, Sure As The World.

::

Thanks you Sheila! Great tips and information.

For more information on Waldorf Education, please visit the Discovering Waldorf Page.

If you would like to see an article on a specific Waldorf topic (or would like to write one for me), please contact me with your ideas and thoughts.

Blessings and magic,

Donni

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Print Friendly

Comments

  1. I totally know what you mean about making up for lost time! My girls were in school through 2nd and 4th grades and I felt like I had to make up for lost time…it is only now when I am feeling like we can slow down a bit! Great and interesting post.

    • Hey Theresa,
      I think this is a normal reaction, but it was so hard to get a handle on! I remember thinking that it was “too late” for my older son at 8 1/2. Seeing him now at 11 1/2, I see how young he really was then! Hindsight . . . it’s a gift.

  2. elizabeth says:

    Thanks for the pep talk, Sheila. I really needed that today. Have fun at the beach.

  3. This is such a great article Sheila (and I love your blog as well)! I think we can all get that feeling as mothers from time to time “if only I could start from the beginning again with what I know now….” but really, the entire parenting and homeschooling experience is a spiritual journey, and we do not grow as spiritual beings by being perfect mama ducks with perfect little chicks! :)

  4. Great tips! As a mama who is about to be staring my official Waldorf homeschooling journey this fall, reading articles like this from mamas actually doing the work, is invaluable.
    (Particularly love tip #4 … although it’s difficult sometimes not to compare, this does help give a little comparing perspective!)

    • Hey Becky,
      Tattoo that quotation to your arm!! LOL I still find it hard sometimes to see what other people are doing and what we are not doing. However, I have found so many friends online who share from “the real world” – no one’s day is perfect and blogs only provide a snapshot.
      Good luck with your homeschool journey. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

  5. Oh thank you for these great reminders. I often get overwhelmed and wish I were farther along in our journey. I constantly need the reminder to slow down!!

    • Hey Meaghan,
      I know that feeling well. It is so hard in the beginning. I can tell you, the things I implemented slowly are the ones that “stuck.” I still take a year-by-year view and try to just focus on ONE thing. Last year was afternoon storytime. This year was handwork. I think next year will be quiet/independent reading time. There are still days when I feel overwhelmed, but I try to remember all that we have accomplished and focus on that.
      Good luck.

  6. Another concise, loving and beautiful post from Sheila.

  7. thank you for the tips! As a mama who is about to be staring my official Waldorf homeschooling journey this summer, reading articles like this from mamas actually doing the work, is invaluable. I was really scarry but now i know im not the only one and thank you for let us know there is a virtual community when you can be part, because some times is very important do not feel alone.
    Thank you so much. we keep in touch.

    • Hi Gimena,
      It’s such a beautiful way to do things… I’m delighted to have been of help. Thank you for your kind words of encouragement.
      Blessings and magic,
      Donni

If you liked this post, please leave a comment below

*

CommentLuv badge