How We Homeschool-Waldorf Edition
This week, I’m diving into our homeschool methodology. For the past few months, we’ve been following a mostly unschooling philosophy, but through the years, we have dabbled in multiple methods of learning. As we close on 2017 and begin a new year, I’ve been evaluating our daily rhythm and our goals for the year, and have decided that we need to begin leaning towards a more eclectic version of what we’ve done over the years.
As a result, we made a list of the 4 homeschool methods we agree most with: Charlotte Mason, Montessori, Waldorf, and Unschooling. Each of these methods share slight similarities, but if we’re being honest, following one completely renders the others as completely opposite. By making a list of what we love and don’t, we are forming our own version of homeschool, full of the things we love about each method, despite their differences.
If you want to go back and read the first entry of this series, click here.
Today: The Waldorf Method
What we love about Waldorf:
- Atmosphere. Of all the methods we like, I feel like Waldorf lines up most with how we want our home life to feel. We love the comfort of Waldorf…the natural elements, warm colors, and even the smells. There’s just something about Waldorf’s atmosphere that brings us innate joy.
- Rhythm. I’m weird. And I get that. But whenever someone mentions the idea of structured school days and schedules, I cringe inside. But rhythm? That makes a world of difference. And we’ve seen the positive effects of rhythm on our oldest son (who is on the spectrum.) Too much schedule and structure gets him frustrated, but having a natural rhythm gives him peace. To be honest, over the months with all the crazy going on, we’ve deviated a lot from our rhythm. 2018 will be the year we refocus.
- Festivals and seasonal celebrations. This goes hand in hand with rhythm. By celebrating the small, little known to most holidays like Michaelmas and Mayday, we instill an awareness of seasonality and the earth’s rhythm. I feel that paying attention to the coming and going of the seasons is crucial in healthy development and life for any person.
- Natural connection. I love that Waldorf rhythms align to colors for parts of the day. I love that each day has a grain to focus on. And I love that the stories are all connected to the natural world. There is such beauty in childhood play that is connected to nature.
- Early childhood emphasis. I talked about this yesterday in the Montessori post. But I love Waldorf’s approach to early childhood even more. I love that slowness is encouraged. Gentleness is priority. And letting them be children is pivotal.
- The materials. Beeswax modeling wax and coloring blocks. Watercolors. Wool. Wood toys. Waldorf toys and art supplies make me giddy, and we’ve seen the effect they have on our kiddos, as well.
- Main lesson books. There is great pride when a child is directly involved in documenting their learning process. And even more so when they can look back over the years and see their progress.
- Unique approaches to teaching the basics. Waldorf education approaches a lot of the basic parts of education in unique and beautiful ways. From Math Gnomes and stories to teach mathematics, to using stories to teach letters, Waldorf engages the child’s senses.
- The art. Every aspect of Waldorf is immersed in beauty. Even chalkboards are works of art. Explorer Cub adores art, and responds well to this aspect of Waldorf education.
What we’re not so fond of about Waldorf:
- Anthrosophy. After doing a lot of reading on anthrosophy, I know that there are a lot of Waldorf homeschool families, and even some curriculums, that do not incorporate Steiner’s philosophy into their education. And there are a lot of homeschool families that do incorporate this into their education. While I wouldn’t ever try to convince anyone that a certain belief is wrong, I do know that for my family, personally, we can’t adopt anthrosophy. This has always been one of the few things that I have been unsure of in regards to Waldorf education, but I also know that a good quality Waldorf education can be achieved with out it. Anthrosophy is a big topic…and there’s no way I could comfortably explain it here on my blog.
- Discouraged use of electronics. I believe there has to be a moderation here. I also believe that electronics are a pivotal part of the future. And if you’ve read our About page, you know that Explorer Cub loves his video games and has his own YouTube channel. It would be hypocritical to say that we fully adopt Waldorf principles, because we feel for our family that electronics are a part of our modern life, and we embrace that. We know that every family is different, and have even gone a good long time with no electronics in the house ourselves, but we do enjoy a good bit of video game nights as a family and YouTube. 😀 I think moderation is key, here.
Waldorf education is our favorite, hands down. Aside from the two thing we don’t like, we could totally dive ourselves into this method of education exclusively. In fact, I’ve said multiple times to my husband that if I ever sent our boys to school outside the home, I would try very hard to figure out a way to get them into a Waldorf school. (Although cost would definitely be an issue.) We find so much beauty in Waldorf methods…and we love that it truly is a way of life and not just an education.
Please keep in mind that these are only my opinion, and in no way meant to convince you of how to teach your kiddos! As I dive into each method that we feel is part of our homeschooling, I’m learning even more than I knew before. These points are only some aspects of each method…there are even more parts that didn’t make the list. Those things live in the “gray area.” Some of them we use, some of them, we don’t. That’s the beauty of homeschooling…we find exactly what we need to teach of our very unique and exceptional children in the way that helps them learn best. Both of my boys are completely different, and I know that the way I approach schooling with Explorer Cub will be different from the way that Tiny Timber learns!
Do you use Waldorf methods in your homeschooling? What is your family’s favorite part of homeschooling this way? Let me know in the comments!