Ask Jean Anything

Welcome to episode #93, Ask Jean Anything. Today, I’m going to answer six questions from, dear listeners!

I so often say to homeschooling parents, “There are no silly questions. And if you have a question, chances are good that someone else is wondering that same thing.”

So here we go…

What is the best way to handle negative comments about Waldorf homeschooling?

This is never easy. But I think the more concise and clear we can be about our choice to homeschool, the better. We don’t owe anyone an explanation.

So when people say something negative or question our choice, we can simply say,

  • This is what we’re choosing for now, we’ll see what next year brings.
  • Or maybe say “Our child or children learn best with hands-on engaging activities, so we’re choosing to follow the Waldorf approach.

Sometimes it’s homeschooling our family objects to. And sometimes it’s Waldorf.

But I’ve found over and over again, that if we have a simple response – like one sentence – we can respond politely but with clear boundaries and move on. The less we engage and the less defensive we are the better! If another’s doubts are triggering doubts of you own, I encourage you to work through that or get the support you need so you can feel confident in your choice. 

My kids and I are night owls. Do you think it’s a good idea to sleep longer and do homeschooling later on?

Yes! We want to make homeschooling work for our family. And that includes coming up with a daily rhythm that works for everyone. Working with our natural rhythm is better than fighting it.

For me, I’m an early bird and so are my kids. At least until they became teenagers, then that shifted for a bit. So we wanted to get lessons in before lunch each day.

But if your family does better starting lessons later in the day, that is what you should do.

Even Rudolf Steiner talked about having two shifts in the very first Waldorf school – when asked how they would accommodate more than one class per grade. He said they could start one group early in the morning and the second group mid-day.

So the starting point with daily rhythm is to look at each family member’s natural rhythm and craft from there. For some families, you’ll have some kids who can focus better early in the morning and others who prefer later in the day. And you can adjust your daily lesson rhythm for that. But for sure, find what works for you.

How can dyslexic or learning differentiated students benefit from the Waldorf method?

I love this question. Because I’ve seen over and over again how the Waldorf method really meets the needs of so many different types of learners, not just neurotypical kids. And for sure homeschooling is a great setting for children who learn on a different time-table because we can craft the lessons to meet our children’s needs.

Steiner even said we want to look at the children before us and bring them what they need. This is much more possible in a homeschool setting than in a classroom of 30 kids.

So how does this work with a child with dyslexia or learning differentiated students?

With the Waldorf approach, we can bring the content – the lesson topics recommended for each age and grade – but work on skills development based on our individual child.

Want to have a look at those recommended topics? Check out this Waldorf Block Rotation.

For example, we might have a 2nd grader who is still learning to read. So we bring animal fables as recommended for that age, but we can work on whatever specific skills are needed for the particular child.

Some choose to also get outside help because some children may need that. But finding someone who is supportive of the Waldorf method is key. And all the Waldorfy activities will help – like stories, word play, verse recitation, movement, verbal summaries of stories, music…all the lively arts really. This Waldorf approach benefits everyone really, no matter how their brain develops.

My 6.5 year old doesn’t want to sing or recite with me. Do I keep singing and reciting to her by myself?

Your daughter isn’t alone in this! My boys would often ask me to stop singing! Ha.

I think for a lot of children, such a small group as we have in our homeschools can make them feel too self-conscious.

So yes, I’d keep singing and reciting. Invite her to join in but be OK if she chooses not to.

Also, lots of children need to watch for a long time before joining in.

You might choose to introduce the recorder in a super simple way by learning one song that you already know how to sing. And then one day, you could play that song on recorder and then sing it and see what happens.

Keep the musical experiences going and at some point, I bet your daughter will join in.

How do you maintain the stamina needed for the entire school year? How can I keep going when it feels like the road ahead is long?

Such a good question because homeschooling does take a lot of stamina! But the answer is not just self-care, but inner work…that’s the kind of activity that fills you back up.

Like learning an inspiring poem by heart and reciting it as you make your morning coffee or tea. Writing down three things you’re grateful for every day. Incorporating little moments of prayer and meditation into your day.

And to me, I found having something in mind to tell myself when I felt down was really important.

So when you think, “Ugh this year feels like such a long road, how am I going to keep going?” you might look back at what you’ve done so far and say to yourself, “Wow, we really read some going stories this month.” Small yet powerful changes in what we think, how we talk to ourselves.

Also, think about what fills you back up and find ways to bring more of that into your week. Is it curling up with a good book? Or meeting a friend for coffee? We want to be intentional about renewing our energy in ways that doesn’t feel like more work!

How can we best accept our child and establish boundaries if their behavior is affecting their siblings and the overall home atmosphere?

Ah, the dynamics of sibling relationships! Not always easy, but remember that they’re learning how to navigate the world in the safety of home.

To me, the best way to accept our child and establish boundaries is to be as neutral as possible.

Most of the time, I think what we do is pretend we’re accepting a challenging behavior and then try to deal with it through gritted teeth. And we try to change it. That’s not really acceptance.

When we truly accept, boundaries are much easier to set.

So the first step is to separate the behavior from the boundary. A child gets to behave or respond any way they like. Just like the adults in our lives do! And we as their parents get to set the boundaries.

So for example, if a child is always grabbing something from a sibling, we might first tell ourselves that this is likely to happen tomorrow – accepting the reality and the child. Then decide what we’ll do and say.

Perhaps we might decide to ask the child to let the sibling have the toy first this time. Or if a child is whining or teasing a sibling, we might say that when that happens, we’ll all take a break or head home or whatever you decide.

The key is acceptance first. And then from that place, just choose a simple boundary from a neutral place.

More Ask Jean Anything

If you enjoyed this episode, I want you to know that I answer questions like this all the time in both my 1:1 Mentor Sessions and inside the Inspired at Home community where we have monthly group coaching calls, a super supportive group of parents, and 25+ masterclasses! I’d love to help you with your questions.😊

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