Episode 179

We’re getting back to basics in this episode for an often-requested topic ~ getting started with Waldorf homeschooling.

I see so many homeschooling parents overcomplicating things and getting stressed out. So let’s explore how to keep homeschooling with Waldorf simple, inspiring, doable, and joyful.

We’ll start with some foundational principles so you can grasp the how and why. And, I’ll discuss the three essential aspects of getting started with Waldorf homeschooling ~ child development, rhythm, and the lively arts.

Listen along to this heartening episode and you can grab all the resources and links in the show notes below.

A Quick Introduction to Waldorf Education

No matter how you choose to homeschool, there is so much in the Waldorf approach that can be of benefit to you.

Here is my description of Waldorf education in a nutshell:

Waldorf education is a developmental approach to learning that incorporates rhythm and the lively arts into all subjects.”

Three facts about its beginnings:

  1. The first Waldorf school was founded by Rudolf Steiner in 1919 in Stuttgart Germany.
  2. The incentive for the founding of the school was the devastation of World War I.
  3. Rudolf Steiner wanted an alternative to the lecture and notetaking approach he observed in schools around Europe at the time because he felt it was too abstract and not engaging for the children. 

The long and the short of it is that Waldorf education is holistic. It embraces all aspects of the human being and human development ~ the physical, emotional, intellectual, cultural, and spiritual.

Our highest endeavor must be to develop free human beings who are able of themselves to impart purpose and direction to their lives.”

~ rudolf steiner

Getting Started with Waldorf Homeschooling

Steiner said that the job of the teacher is to “look at the children before you and bring them what they need.”

And what better setting to do this in than a homeschool?

Our job as homeschooling parents is to look at the children before us and help them discover their gifts and share those gifts with the world.

But where do we start?

Here are the three essential elements of Waldorf homeschooling that form the foundation of our planning, our lessons, and our inspiration to show up every day as parents and homeschoolers.

ONE ~ Child Development

The first step to building a strong foundation for Waldorf homeschooling is to understand child development and then observe our kiddos to see where they are so we can help them continue to grow.

Rudolf Steiner never wrote down a curriculum. He genuinely wanted each teacher to observe the children they teach and develop the curriculum and lessons out of their observations and the needs of the children.

What Steiner did leave us with is a deep understanding of how children grow and learn. He created recommendations for each age and grade that nourish the child’s unfolding consciousness and knowledge of the world, following the path of child development. These recommendations take the form of stories, from fairy tales and fables to mythology and biography.

To learn more about the characteristics of each stage of child development and the curriculum indications that help the child grow and learn through each grade, please add Ages & Stages: Waldorf-Inspired Grades at a Glance to your resource library.

Below you’ll find some additional recommendations for you. I’ve used affiliate links in this post which means that at no additional cost to you, I may earn a commission from products you purchase via my referral links. You can read my full disclosure policy here.

Additional resources about child development and Waldorf education include:

TWO ~ Rhythm

In Waldorf homeschooling, we use the idea of rhythm, or a steady, repeated pattern, to help our days go more smoothly. An established rhythm helps one activity flow to the next without so much effort.

Rhythm is so nourishing for children because it builds predictability, helps children feel secure, and forms the foundation for cooperation and connection.

We also use this concept of rhythm when planning homeschool lessons.

Based on the concept of “sleeping on it” which is now recognized by neurologists and educators as helpful for learning, we can present educational concepts one day and then come back to review them the next.

If you feel like rhythm is something you’d like to work on, get the FREE Rhythm Starter Kit: Create Your Daily Rhythm Chart So That You Can Step into the Flow & Release Overwhelm.

THREE ~ The Lively Arts

I think this is my favorite of these essential elements because I’ve seen how the lively arts can really bring learning alive by increasing a child’s interest and engagement.

The idea of the lively arts came about because Steiner wanted to transform the liberal arts into something more experiential and memorable. Something less abstract and more active.

The Lively Arts include these activities:

  • Storytelling
  • Music
  • Movement
  • Drama
  • Poetry
  • Painting
  • Drawing
  • and Modeling

My suggested resource for building a strong foundation in the lively arts is Weaving the Arts into Homeschooling: Doable Ideas for Daily, Weekly, & Monthly Creative Experiences.

Action Steps to Get Started with Waldorf Homeschooling

  • Plan monthly main lesson blocks around a book, a topic, or a project that meet your child along the path of child development. 
  • Choose your resource for the story material and plan out what you’ll read each day from that resource, establishing a steady rhythm and planning time to revisit, review, and record the learning along the way.
  • Choose which of the lively arts you’ll bring each block or month. Remember to try one at a time in the beginning. For example, the first month you could get some beeswax crayons and drawing paper to draw a scene from each story. The second month, you might add a poem or song. The third month, you might get some watercolor supplies and explore wet-on-wet watercolor painting. Remember, there’s no rush!
  • Plan for an hour or two each morning for your main lessons. Then choose a few skills you want to practice with your child in a different subject such as math or language arts for 20 to 30 minutes after the main lesson or later in the day.

Additional Resources

Here’s what I want to leave you with ~ you can learn to customize homeschooling to make it work for you and your family.

As parents, we know what our children need. And when we’re not sure, we can slow down enough to observe and see.

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