How to Make the Waldorf Curriculum More Homeschool Friendly
If you are homeschooling inspired by Waldorf, then you’re in the right place. Let’s talk about how to make the Waldorf curriculum more homeschool friendly.
I’ve developed these ideas over years of homeschooling and mentoring others. And these ideas are not unique to Waldorf homeschooling. These ideas are best practices for any and all homeschoolers.
So let’s talk about how to translate the Waldorf method, or any approach developed for the classroom, to the homeschool setting so that you can create a homeschool life that you love.
The Waldorf Movement
Years ago, when I attended the first Waldorf homeschooling conference, homeschoolers were not widely accepted within the Waldorf education movement.
In fact, this conference started off with the keynote speaker telling the audience of eager homeschooling parents that you can’t “do” Waldorf at home.
The room went silent. Because we were crushed. Some parents even walked out!
But that was then, and this is now.
Almost 30 years later, I can happily say that Waldorf-inspired homeschooling is finally being accepted as a legitimate part of the Waldorf movement as a whole. Finally!
And yet, as homeschoolers, looking at what Waldorf teachers do in a classroom doesn’t always translate directly to the home environment.
Home is not school. And the truth is, Rudolf Steiner, the founder of Waldorf pedagogy, created this method for a school setting.
Steiner was asked to open a school in a specific place and time. It was post-World War I, and Europe was suffering both the economic and social impacts of a devastating war. He was motivated to bring about renewal through education for the children of factory workers in 1919.
And now over 100 years later, most of us can sense the healing quality of this approach. That draws us in.
The question for homeschoolers then becomes ~ how do we take a curriculum created for the classroom, for grades 1-8, and translate that to a homeschool setting in such a way that it brings our homeschools alive and helps our children engage more with the learning and the lessons?
Here you go ~ ideas for how to make the Waldorf curriculum more homeschool friendly.
Think of your homeschooling day in terms of time buckets
Time buckets are containers that hold the space for different activities throughout your day. Some examples of homeschool time buckets might be warm-up time, couch time, table time, skills practice, afternoon activities, and free play time.
For many of us, the morning is best for more structured lessons with the afternoon being available for more open-ended activities and free play. But you get to decide!
Create a rhythm for your days after you determine what your time buckets are going to be.
Here’s an example of a simple table lesson rhythm:
Start with a game to build connection, warmth, and fun. After review, practice, or covering new material, end your lessons with age-appropriate independent work. Starting in about 2nd grade (for some it’s more like grade 4 or 5), homeschool kiddos might enjoy NOT having mom or dad sitting right next to them. They might really like being able to work independently on the chalkboard or in a spiral notebook on a few math problems, copywork, reading, revising or editing.
Source teaching materials from a variety of places
When my family started on our homeschooling journey, there wasn’t Waldorf curriculum available to purchase. Waldorf schools and teacher trainings didn’t really welcome homeschoolers either. Material was hard to come by, but often passed on from one homeschooling parent or homeschool-friendly teacher to another.
These days, there’s the opposite challenge of too many materials! In either case, there are now some great places to find wonderful teaching materials.
First, use library books. I love looking in the children’s section for finding beautifully told stories. Don’t forget to ask your local librarians for suggestions ~ they’re such a great resource! I even use children’s books for teaching history in middle school and high school.
You can find many free resources online from the Waldorf Online Library, Waldorf Teacher Resources, and Waldorf Inspirations.
And there is so much curriculum available to choose from these days. Just remember, all have pros and cons.
A few tips for using a packaged curriculum:
- Know that you’ll never use the whole curriculum as it is written.
- Remember that a packaged curriculum is a comprehensive collection of possibilities. Not a realistic plan. You still have to make key decisions and create your own plan for teaching and learning. (That’s where I can help, by the way. So be sure to check out all that I offer if you’re looking for guidance.)
- The best way to use a curriculum is like reference material for a block or topic or lesson that you’ve already chosen.
Finally, you can find resources that meet your needs and your kids’ needs beyond the realm of Waldorf. Don’t worry about finding strictly Waldorf resources. Look to homeschool mentors, support groups, and veteran homeschoolers to learn about reputable resources.
You can always Waldorf-ize any lessons or materials by adding in more lively and engaging arts, including stories, to the lessons.
Create a simple planning system that works for you
Keep a planning binder with collections of ideas and resources for each block.
Organize notes with ideas for future blocks in your binder or in files for future use.
Plan your blocks by months, choosing one block per month. This is the simple yet impactful planning method that I teach in my popular course called Plan It Out. We do a live run through of this planning intensive every year in the early summer inside the Inspired at Home membership community.
Think of your family as your community and learn together
One of the most frequently-asked questions I get is how to do Waldorf with multiple ages or big families.
I suggest starting with the idea that your family is a community. Rudolf Steiner asked the first Waldorf teachers to aim for creating community in their classrooms. We have an advantage over that at home!
I often say do as much together as a family as you can ~ from warm up time, to skills practice with each child working at their own pace, and even main lessons.
Most homeschoolers find that trying to stack grade-level lessons each day one after the other is not sustainable. So we need to get creative in how we bring the Waldorf curriculum at home.
This is where Waldorf-inspired homeschooling has grown the most in the past 25 years. And where we can use our own creativity and inspiration to bring our children exactly what they need.
Let go of worrying about not getting to everything
We all have to skip lessons or even whole blocks sometimes.
At home, we’re more immersed in the subjects and themes. It’s difficult and often not very wise to push the pace. We have to go at our own pace and with our family’s flow.
Learning at home is not linear. The first child and the last child in each family will have a different experience than the middle children. Main lesson blocks for big families might not follow the linear path of the Waldorf grades as it is laid out. The blocks might meander a bit.
But if we focus on forming the vessel for learning, rather than filling it, we can see that deep and meaningful learning is more important than covering every topic or doing all of the main lessons.
Observation is your best form of assessment
Observe, observe, observe! Keep post-its or index cards near by to jot down notes. Reflect on your teaching and learning day in a journal. And meet your child where he/she is along their educational journey.
If you’re using a packaged curriculum, there’s a good chance that your child’s skill development in math, reading, phonics, spelling, and grammar is not going to line up perfectly with the story material and suggested lessons in your curriculum. And this is perfectly normal!
Again, it’s not a linear path and there is no open and go curriculum. But there are tried-and-true resources available to help you meet your child where he or she is.
Homeschool Help, Right Away!
If you’re ready to experience peace of mind on your homeschooling journey, I have something that can help right now ~ and that is homeschool simplicity. Find it here in the Homeschool Simplicity Bundle.
This collection includes The Homeschool Simplicity eBook, 3 video trainings (including Your Minimum Viable Homeschooling Day), Waldorf-inspired block outlines for planning grade 1 to 8, and a set of beautiful, customizable homeschool planning templates. Get access right away for homeschool simplicity today.
More Recommended Resources for Waldorf Inspired Homeschooling
- Within the Inspired at Home community, you’ll find the masterclass “Teaching and Learning with Games” with four video lectures and three pdf guides for using learning games in your homeschool. Plus a whole library of trainings and a whole lot more!
- I offer one-on-one homeschool coaching with support for homeschooling parents regardless of which curriculum or approach you’re using. Get in touch today if you’re lost in the homeschooling woods. Together we can map out your journey!
Rate & Review the Podcast
If the Art of Homeschooling Podcast has inspired you, I’d LOVE it if you could rate and review the podcast on your favorite podcast player! Reviews can be left on Apple Podcasts (iTunes), Podcast Addict, or Stitcher.
Or simply pop on over to lovethepodcast.com/artofhomeschooling and choose where you want to leave your review.
And if you want to show your appreciation for the Art of Homeschooling Podcast, you can buy me a coffee!