100 Things To Know About Waldorf Inspired Homeschooling

Ever been curious about what Waldorf inspired homeschooling is or where on earth you should begin? Get a crash course here with these 100 facts about Waldorf-inspired Homeschooling.

Everything You Need To Know About Waldorf Homeschooling

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The Basics of Waldorf Inspired Homeschooling

  1. Waldorf is a holistic education method
  2. It uses the arts, story and movement throughout all subjects
  3. It is based up the teachings of Rudolf Steiner and the traditions of the Waldorf school movement
  4. A lot of people think Waldorf is similar to unschooling but it is actually very structured and has formal lessons in the grades
  5. Sometimes people think it is like Montessori, but Waldorf brings very specific lessons at specific ages, rather than having the child choose the lessons. They are both child-centred but Waldorf is teacher-led where Montessori is not
  6. Because of #4 and #5, Waldorf homeschooling is a parent intensive homeschooling method. Don’t let this put you off!
  7. Waldorf advocates for delayed academics and has no formal lessons before first grade
  8. Just because there are no formal lessons does NOT mean children aren’t learning or that there is no structure
  9. The goal of Waldorf is to develop children into adults who have the freedom to choose their own individual path in life
  10. Rhythm is key to Waldorf inspired homeschooling and when all else fails, go back to establishing a rhythm

The Core Principles of Waldorf

  1. There are an agreed upon set of Core Principles of Waldorf Education which you can find published here
  2. The first principle is that the human being is seen as being more than just a brain in a body. The human is body, soul and spirit. Additionally, body, soul and spirit develop in different ways and at different times
  3. The second principles is that children develop in approximately seven year phases which reflect particular archetypes
  4. Side note: archetypes are a big deal in Waldorf
  5. The curriculum is developmental and is designed to compliment the Waldorf view of child development
  6. In the first seven years children learn and are taught through imitation. In the next seven years they learn through guidance and authority, then through idealism in the last seven years.
  7. Rudolf Steiner wanted teachers to have the freedom to teach in the way they saw fit while working within this understanding of child development and with an understanding of his pedagogical indications. So you do this your way, Mama!
  8. Teaching should be artistic, holistic and bring experiences before concepts
  9. Relationships are key. Nurture them
  10. Teachers (this means you!) are charged with looking after your self, you creative and spiritual self, both for your own good and to make you a better and more creative teacher

Waldorf Before the Grades

  1. Before first grade, children learn through imitation and by participating in the rhythm of the home
  2. Because of this, your attitude and manner is the most important element. You want to make yourself as worthy of imitation as you can because remember, this is how they are learning!
  3. The first three years of life should be devoted solely to learning to walk, talk and think, and to discovering the world around them. The key here is to provide lots of natural experiences to develop the body.
  4. The next few years are focused on imaginative play. Now is a great time to focus on providing natural play materials that encourage this. Think nature finds displayed on shelves, play cloths, tea sets and dolls
  5. Only in the last stages of early childhood are we concerned with more cognitive learning and school readiness. But remember we are aiming for Waldorf school readiness, not public school. Don’t worry about teaching reading and writing just yet.
  6. Early childhood should focus on real experiences. So get out and explore nature, have your children help you cook and clean and work in the garden
  7. Develop strong, daily weekly and yearly rhythms in your home. Some people do this through colours of the day, having a baking day, a painting day, a nature walk day, etc. Now is also a great time to start thinking about including festivals in your year.
  8. Early literacy and numeracy skills are taught through story telling, songs, fingerplays and daily life
  9. Don’t forget to provide lots of opportunities for art! You don’t need to give lessons. Let the child learn from imitating you and from free exploration of the materials.
  10. Formal schooling starts around the child is 7 and traditionally the loss of a child’s first teeth was used as an indication of school readiness.

What Happens in Waldorf First Grade?

  1. First grade usually starts around six and a half to seven years of age, when you believe the child is ready according to Waldorf guidelines. You can find first grade readiness indications here
  2. There is often a ceremony to mark the occasion. Rose ceremonies are popular and you can find an example of one here
  3. The first block taught in first grade is usually form drawing
  4. Form drawing is a technique peculiar to Waldorf. It provides practice for writing skills and for geometry further down the track. The books by Angela Lord are my favourite form drawing resource
  5. Children are taught to read by first learning to write
  6. The alphabet is introduced pictorially. Usually, fairy tales are told to the child. Images from the fairy tale are used to show the letters in a drawing. The child copies the drawing, then just the letter. Usually capitals are taught first but sometimes upper and lower case are taught together
  7. Reading comes from this writing, first by choral recitation of words on the blackboard, then individual recitation from the board. All of the words and verses are familiar and meaningful to the child.
  8. A combination of phonics, sight words and contextual reading srategies are used to help the child move towards independent reading.
  9. Maths is taught whole to parts and all four processes are introduced in first grade
  10. In first grade, the goals for maths are focused around understanding what numbers really are, how to read and write them, an understanding of the four basic processes and memorising basics maths facts

What are Waldorf Main Lessons?

  1. Waldorf doesn’t one subject at a time. Instead, one topic at a time is brought to the child in a block of main lessons
  2. You can see which topics are taught in which grades in this post
  3. Main lessons run for 1-2 hours, usually in the morning
  4. They include many different subject areas linked together by the common topic, however main lessons may also have a particular subject focus. Some blocks focus more on mathematics, some more on language arts skills, etc. Even when there is a subject area focus like this, the block will still incorporate many different subjects
  5. Steiner suggested teaching main lessons in blocks because it is economical both for teacher planning and for student learning. It is much easier to plan for or learn one major topic each day for 4-6 weeks than half a dozen disconnected subjects every day of the school year
  6. Main lessons often start with circle time, particularly in the lower grades. This includes elements of music practice (singing and/or recorder playing are usual), movement, maths games, poetry and other language arts practice such as tongue twisters.
  7. Circle time is widespread in Waldorf, both in schools and homeschools, but it wasn’t actually devised by Steiner, it was a later addition! So you shouldn’t feel like you are doing things wrong if you can’t make circle time work in your home. But you should read this post for help or for alternatives.
  8. Main lessons are used right throughout, even in the high school!
  9. Steiner advised teachers to be creative and artistic in their teaching methods, but don’t be put off by thinking this means you have to be a great artist and turn every lesson into an art lesson. There are lots of ways to be creative in your teaching
  10. For help on planning your first main lesson blocks, check out this post with free planning pages
Online Homeschool Summit 2017
The 2017 AHS now comes with bonus audio downloads and a workshop on getting started with Waldorf Inspired homeschooling from yours truly

Where can I find Waldorf Curriculum to Buy?

  1. A lot, if not most, people like to start out by purchasing a curriculum and there are a few available, each with their pros and cons. The options fall off sharply in the high school years so I recommend getting some experience in planning your own blocks before you get to the point end of homeschooling 😉
  2. Earthschooling is an online curriculum and the most multicultural of the options available
  3. Waldorf Essentials comes as either a PDF download or you can order physical copies. In my opinion it is the most basic but it comes with an amazing level of support to help you make it work in your home
  4. Live Education is widely regarded as being the closest to the way things are done in the schools. It’s also the most expensive and parent intensive to plan. However they do include (and require) a phone consultation when you begin, so you’re not on your own 🙂
  5. Christopherus was written by a Waldorf teacher who homeschooled her own children. There are some changes happening over there at the moment but it’s worth checking out to see what is currently available
  6. Oak Meadow is often recommended but you should know it is only a little Waldorf-Inspired in the early grades, and bares no resemblance in the upper grades. That said, it’s a wonderful curriculum and many people tweak it to make it more ‘Waldorf-y’
  7. Lavenders Blue is the new kid on the block. Written by a homeschool mama, I have heard it is beautifully put together. There are only a few grades available at the moment.
  8. You don’t need a curriculum for kindergarten but there are some helpful resources online that can guide you and help you introduce arts and crafts into your home. But remember, purchasing anything at this age is completely optional
  9. Wee Folk Art and Whole Family Rhythms both have a selection of guides and crafts available that are a wonderful complement to a Waldorf-Inspired kindergarten or preschool year at home
  10. The best way to tailor a creative and holistic education for your child is to DIY your own using online resources and a selection of great books

The 10 Best Waldorf Resources FREE Online

  1. The Parenting Passageway blog by Carrie, a long time Waldorf homeschooling mama
  2. Heidi from Twig and Berry Farm Homeschool on Instagram
  3. Ms Sherman blogs about teaching at a Steiner school  and has lots of helpful gems for block planning
  4. Pepper and Pine on YoutubeThe
  5. The Waldorf curriculum discussion group on Facebook
  6. Grades discussion groups on Facebook. There is a group for every grade level!
  7. Marsha Johnson’s Yahoo group is a goldmine
  8. Steiner ACARA website has the Australian Steiner curriculum framework available as PDF downloads
  9. The East African Teacher Guides are so helpful
  10. This blog! Haha cheeky, I know. But don’t forget to subscribe

Top 10 Books For Waldorf Inspired Homeschoolers

  1. The Tasks and Content of the Steiner-Waldorf Curriculum
  2. Painting and Drawing in Waldorf Schools
  3. Creative Form Drawing
  4. Coloring with Block Crayons
  5. The Jamie York maths guides
  6. The Waldorf Book of Poetry
  7. Rudolf Steiner’s Curriculum for Steiner-Waldorf Schools
  8. The Handbook for Steiner-Waldorf Class Teachers. Now I wouldn’t say this one is essential, but it did clarify some ideas on Main Lessons for me so I’ve included it here
  9. Language Teaching in Steiner-Waldorf Schools is next on my wishlist!
  10. Alan Whitehead is an Australian Steiner teacher who wrote a series of books to help parents create their own Waldorf-Inspired homeschool. It’s not a complete curriculum but it willl help you create one. He’s more on the esoteric side than other resources but has some amazing ideas. His books are worth tracking down if you prefer the DIY approach to curriculum. I’m including the entire Spiritual Syllabus here as my 10th book recommendation

Who Was Rudolf Steiner?

  1. The Waldorf method was developed by Rudolf Steiner in the earlier part of the 20th Century
  2. Steiner was an Austrian born philosopher and social reformer
  3. He studied maths and science at university and then took a job publishing the scientific works of Goethe.
  4. While Steiner never spoke about using his method in a homeschool environment, he did work as a private in-home tutor at one point.
  5. Rudolf Steiner left the path of a traditional scholar to become the General Secretary of the Theosophical Society in Germany but he later broke away to develop his own philosophy
  6. This philosophy is know as anthroposophy and is the base that the Waldorf school method is built upon
  7. Steiner didn’t just start the Waldorf school movement. His philosophy is also the basis for anthroposophical medicine, anthroposophical architecture and biodynamic farming
  8. His wife, Marie, helped him to develop some of the more artistic elements of Waldorf, such as eurythmy.
  9. He continued to work as a lecturer throughout his entire life and opened the first school in 1919
  10. Steiner died in 1925, 6 years after the formation of the first Waldorf school

What is Anthroposophy?

  1. Anthroposophy is the underlying foundation of the Waldorf method, but many homeschoolers and even some Waldorf teachers, are not anthroposophists. You can find out how to reconcile these two seemingly opposing viewpoints here
  2. Anthroposophy is Steiner’s attempt to reconcile science and spirituality
  3. Because of this, it is also known as Spiritual Science
  4. Anthroposphy is meant to guide the teacher, but it is never meant to be taught to the child in school
  5. If you want to find out more about anthroposophy take a look at this website

A few more things to know before you go...

  1. Story is the vehicle through which new information is brought to the child. Get used to telling stories now!
  2. The keys to remember are rhythm and to teach head, heart and hands.
  3. You can do Waldorf without all the fancy and expensive materials. Don’t be put off by thinking it’s too expensive for you. There are Waldorf schools in third world countries and I don’t think they are shelling out for the German brands 😉
  4. Steiner opened the first school after giving 2 weeks of lectures to his new teachers. That’s it. So don’t feel like you need to know everything before you can begin. Just get in there!
  5. Not everyone who chooses Waldorf-Inspired homeschooling stays true to all of the guidelines. No one here is going to tell you you have to. Whatever you choose to do should be meaningful to you. Some people even combine Waldorf and Montessori, Waldorf and Unschooling or Waldorf and Charlotte Mason. I fall firmly into the last camp so if you love Waldorf and Charlotte Mason, stick around!

More 100 Homeschool Thins lists

More helpful lists of ‘100 Things’ on a wide variety of homeschool topics are coming soon!

Click on this picture from November 7th to see other posts from some amazing homeschool bloggers.

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About Kirstee @ This Whole Home

Wife, mama, intentional homemaker.
I blog about suburban homesteading, homeschooling and homemaking at www.thiswholehome.com

2 thoughts on “100 Things To Know About Waldorf Inspired Homeschooling

  1. Thanks so much for this informative list! It looks like the perfect place to start for home educating newbies like myself that are interested in the Waldorf approach. Much appreciated…

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