What is the Waldorf curriculum exactly?
Have you ever wondered what homeschooling curriculum to buy? Then spent hours, days, or even months researching and comparing? Only to believe that you’re done thinking about curriculum once you make that final decision?
The truth is that the real curriculum happens when you engage with your children. And no one can tell you exactly how to do that!
Disappointing news, I know! But this concept can bring a sense of freedom, as well.
Let’s start with the question: What is the purpose of curriculum?
The dictionary definition of curriculum is this: a fixed course of study, or all of the courses collectively offered in a school or in a particular subject.
From the get-go here, we need to re-think this curriculum thing!
Rudolf Steiner, the founder of Waldorf education, was determined to have teachers create curriculum that was not fixed.
After observing in classrooms all over Europe back in 1919 (almost 100 years ago), Steiner set out to develop an approach that acknowledged the art of teaching, not just the scientific approach that existed at the time.
I find it helpful to explore these ideas about curriculum as homeschoolers.
How would you describe your family’s curriculum?
Over the years, ours evolved. But I would say it was something like this: songs & verses led to stories we read together. Which led to artistic work and hands-on activities that brought the learning to life. Throw in some handwork projects and lots of time outdoors, along with family life and chores, and that was our curriculum.
The content, or topics of study, was taken directly from Steiner’s suggested topics by grade. If you aren’t familiar with these topics, you can find a list here: Waldorf Block Rotation, Grades 1-8.
For my family, our journey started off with my commitment to preserving childhood for my little ones. Then I was determined to give them the space to read when they were ready. And to bring the learning to life through stories and hands-on activities.
The end result? Three children who enjoy reading as adults. Three children who went on to programs of study after high school that they were excited about. Three children who are engaging and engaged with the world as young adults.
The Waldorf curriculum really does raise children who can find their true selves and make life choices out of that place.
“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
What exactly is the Waldorf curriculum then? It’s what you create for your very own children. What you do each day to bring learning to life. There really is no fixed Waldorf curriculum
Steiner asked his very first Waldorf teachers, those he trained in just two weeks back in 1919 before opening the first Waldorf School, to look at the children before them and bring those children what they need. To craft the curriculum specifically for them.
When it comes to curriculum, nothing is more important than the child. And the most rewarding teaching and learning happens when we create the curriculum ourselves.
Yes, the process of creating is messy. But when we cultivate the willingness to remain flexible, we can embrace the planning and teaching as a creative process. And teaching becomes an art.
You can use a purchased curriculum as a starting point if you wish. But from there, it’s up to you to create the real curriculum.
And that’s not really as hard as it may sound. Start by understanding the basic principles of Waldorf education. Observe your children. Make some plans for main lesson blocks. And let the curriculum unfold.
Want help with this process? Join me for my online group coaching program, Plan It Out, where you can get your planning done in just a few weeks and be part of a wonderfully supportive Waldorf homeschooling community for life.