For those of you who are new to homeschooling, congratulations! You are embarking on a grand adventure which will bring growth to you and your entire family. Homeschooling is exciting and liberating in so many ways, the parent sets the tone, creates the environment, organizes the calender, chooses the curriculum and participates in the learning process. Children are involved in the life of the home and can carry their responsibilities through the day with practical work that supports family and community life. The paradigm of schooling and learning as something that takes place away from home shifts and imbues all of life, learning becomes something that occurs with daily living; it it truly s a live education.
Homeschooling calls on us to look within and find our strengths and our limits and the courage to push ourselves to learn new things like painting and drawing and cooking and singing and music! It also calls on us to identify what energizes and supports us in this work and what drains us and depletes our energy and to use our time wisely with great economy. It can be daunting to consider all this and the coming year, especially if we have more than one child. Here are a few tips to get going on next year.
Keep it simple and practical.
Begin with your pencil and a calender or planner.
- My favorite is this Teachers’ Daily Plan Book , available here. I discovered this one in Micronesia, can you fathom that?
Inside there is plenty of room to plan the day, the week, the year, jot down verses, notes, even stories…it’s worked for the Morning Garden and for homeschooling with the grades….and it makes a valuable resource to return to in reflecting on the year or trying to figure out when the children came down with the Chicken Pox, it serves as a journal as well as a planner.
When will your school year start and end?
- The local school calender
- Family needs
- State requirements
- Will you school five days a week?
Which days for vacation and school breaks?
Mark them on the planner.
- Thanksgiving, Yom Kippur, Rosh Hashanah, Christmas, New Years, Winter Break, Spring Break, Summer vacation?
- Will you school on the Monday holidays? Labor day, Martin Luther King Day, Memorial Day
- What about the month of December? Will your school work focus on the holidays and celebration?
What curriculum material will you use?
- What is your child’s grade? It is fairly easy to put together curriculum material for the early grades once you understand the pedagogy. For the upper grades and for beginners it can be helpful to look to those who have walked this path before us.
- For kindergarten and nursery age children, life is the curriculum, more here
- For the grades, how to choose? fine article here
- What books will you need to supplement the curriculum for yourself? Can you borrow them? Do you need to buy them? Do you know about Waldorf Curriculum Supplies?
How familiar are you with Anthroposophy and child development?
- Is there a Waldorf training center offering workshops and classes and talks? a summer program? a study group? see Resources
- How about a Steiner study group online?
- Read Rudolf Steiner:
An essay: An Introduction to Waldorf Education
- Here’s an example of a Main Lesson
- Sketch out your blocks, will you do 3, 4 or 6 week Main Lesson blocks?
- Main Lesson books: will you make them or use pre-made ones?
- Remember that December can become very busy with household and social activities (we did a Saints block in December in second grade and were able to incorporate celebrations into the main lesson)
Materials for the desk work
- Writing utensils, Lyra Giant Ferbies? When will you introduce the colors? one at a time?
- In kindy and nursery, what colors will you use for coloring and painting and when? how will you introduce new colors? where will you keep them? do you have a coloring pad? here
- Crayons, blocks or sticks and when to use what?
- Form drawing: do you have a large size pad of paper and accompanying pad for that?
- Useful words: do you have a small lesson book for this?
- Painting: paint brush, paints, paper, painting boards, more here
- Chalkboard and chalk, need inspiration? here
- Pentatonic flute, do you have one? Can you play it? How to learn? is there someone in your community who might teach you? Waldorf school teacher? Homeschoolers? Books?
Materials for movement
- Bean bags (make them from old corduroys)
- Jump rope
- Repertoire of clapping games, jump rope songs, string games
Resources for Speech and Song:
- Verses, relevant to season or main lesson content
- Tongue twisters
- Songs to sing, seasonal, transitional and other
- Hand clapping games
- String games
- Jump ropes songs and verse
The local library is often a good resource for speech and song. Find the ones you like, write them out on an index card or a sheet of paper, return the books and memorize the verse and songs. Because I spend so much time in the kitchen, I clip a small index card to a magnet clip and put it on the stove hood or fridge. It helps me memorize the material while I am in motion.
Materials for Planning and Organization
- If you need storage for lots of different papers, notes, post its, scribbles on envelopes, try an accordion folder. They have many file slots and be labelled and hold all the articles, verses, songs, nursery rhymes, finger play, craft patterns, festival ideas that you have gathered over time
- A chunky three or five section notebook with pockets to make notes, sketch out lessons, play with ideas really helps me. I sketch out the yearly, daily and weekly rhythms in here. It can be a good place to store pages and verses for memorizing…
and planning the day…
- A sketch book to draw in, once a week spend half an hour in nature, look around and make drawings, just for yourself, use charcoal, crayon, pastel, pencil, play around and make it fun, this year I noticed that color seems painted on the hosta leaves and have noticed the differences in the way tree branches grow out of the trunk and up towards the sky, this helps hone our observation and our ability to bring the material artistically to our child(ren.)
Sketch out the Weekly Rhythm in the Planner
- If you are in early childhood (kindergarten and nursery age 0-7) what activities will you do each day of the week? More on the Rhythm in the Early Years, here.
- If you are homeschooling the grades, sketch in foreign language, eurhythmy, handwork (handwork curriculum here), music lessons, religious education, activities outside the home here.
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Lisa Boisvert Mackenzie is the Editor and Publisher of The Wonder of Childhood and has spent the past fifteen years with one of her own children in early childhood (under seven years of age.) She was blessed with a wondrous, rhythmic and outdoor childhood on the coast of Maine. Lisa has worked with children and their families for the past twenty two years, initially as a homebirth midwife. Lisa’s home based program The Children’s Garden began twelve years ago on a remote tropical island in the Pacific Ocean. Lisa’s current focus is on supporting parents of very young children and exploring the needs of boys in relationship to the Waldorf curriculum and ways of implementing support for those needs within the Waldorf curriculum. She lives with her family in Vermont. Lisa blogs offers an interactive homeschool curriculum program grounded in rhythm of the home as well as parenting support at Celebrate the Rhythm of Life and hosts a discussion groups for parents of young children here.