Waldorf Homeschool Resources

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Spring Nature Table

After a year of cobbling together my own curriculum…I am done. D. O. N. E. DONE. Scooter is done, mama is done, we are done. Maybe I’ll blog about it later, maybe not. I have a lot I could say that maybe someone somewhere might find helpful, but that will just have to wait for now. I am up to my eyeballs in a complete paradigm shift as we change course radically and implement a Waldorf-inspired packaged curriculum from Oak Meadow. I am excited about it, it is amazing, it is changing our family dynamic and I’d love to share about all of that in great detail – but it will just have to wait!

In the meantime, several of my homeschooling friends are very curious about what we are doing  and have asked me to share a few resources I’ve found helpful. There is a ton of information available, so these are just things I’ve found and loved so far in no particular order.

Websites

Oak Meadow

Waldorf-Inspired Learning

Waldorf Without Walls

The Waldorf Homeschool Connection

Moon Child

The Online Waldorf Library

Waldorf Homeschoolers

Books

The Heart of Learning

Waldorf Education: A Family Guide

Understanding Waldorf Education: Teaching from the Inside out

Seven Times the Sun: Guiding Your Child Through the Rhythms of the Day

Materials

Oak Meadow Bookstore

Waldorf Books

Bella Luna Toys

And, of course, Etsy. Beware. If you search, “Waldorf Toys” you will be on there a long, long, long time and you will spend all your money.

Let me know what you find and love! Happy reading!

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3 Things I Took With Me from Public School

Before I became an accidental homeschooler, I was an on-purpose middle school and high school teacher. I loved it and I hated it, but mostly, I loved it. It was hard, it was fun and sometimes I cried and I (thought) bad words. But, I was actually pretty good at it and I’d like to share three things that worked then that I find are still working now.

1. When I first began teaching, my amazing mentor told me, “You bring the fun – or they will. And you’ll never like the fun they come up with.” If content is uninteresting, delivery is boring and activities are humdrum ho-hum, you can guarantee that your classroom will swiftly devolve into a zoo. When working with beginning teachers who were struggling to manage their classrooms, this was one of the FIRST things I considered. And it is still true in my homeschool, enrollment two. If I don’t tie the content to my children’s interest, or I dish up the same-old same-old every day, or I fail to frequently incorporate the kinds of activities they enjoy, we are going to have a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad school day.

Which brings me to…
2. Learning styles matter. Learning styles refer to the preferred way a person learns. Think about yourself and how you like to learn new things. Do you like to read a book? Would you prefer to watch a movie or video or listen to a recording presenting the material or skill? Or, would you learn best if you actually got up and did the thing alongside a master teacher? Most people have one dominant learning style, with a secondary style as well. Most adults can manage to learn in a number of different ways because we have been conditioned to do so – and it makes it rather convenient since many of us have to listen to presentations, read books or trade journals or watch videos for our jobs. However, forcing children to “learn” in a way that is not their preferred style much of the time is torturous both for the teacher and the child. Teaching in their preferred style helps make sure that at least some of the planned activities are those they enjoy.

But what about the necessary activities they don’t enjoy? (And I realize there is an entire school of thought that says children should only do activities they enjoy. But, I’m just not running that kind of joint.)

For those times when an activity is not interesting or fun, I suggest…

3. “Probably so, but nevertheless…” This was a phrase I learned at a conference my first year teaching and it has served me well. For example, Scooter loathes math fact flashcards. I have chosen this practice method for two reasons. First of all, not everything can be cute and fun – I simply am not going to make up a puppet show or game for everything we do. (I may never make up a puppet show in fact.) Secondly, in the case of math facts, a recent study suggests that cutesy little games and activities aren’t nearly as good as old-fashioned “drill and kill.” In fact, worksheets and flashcards may be the absolute best way to teach math facts. Do we do some games? Sure. Do we do some hands-on activities? Absolutely. But sometimes, we do flashcards. And Scooter hates them. More than he hates broccoli, which is saying something.

But this is where, “Probably so, but nevertheless” really comes in handy.,

Observe.

Scooter: I HATE flashcards!

Me: Probably so, but nevertheless, we are going to do them.

Scooter: They are BORING and STUPID!

Me: Probably so, but nevertheless, it is time for flashcards.

Scooter: I can’t wait for them to be OVER!!!

Me: Probably so, but nevertheless, here we go!

Notice the following things about this handy phrase. “Probably so….” acknowledges the child’s feelings. “Probably so….” allows the child to save face because no disagreement is stated. “Probably so” presents no counter-argument. (Why not? Because in the throes of battle, it is not fruitful for me to argue the benefits of flashcards. Scooter does not give two fat farts about how flash cards affect his brain synapses, or about how they are the building blocks for math and science (his favorite subjects) or about the virtues of obedience or how hard I worked to make them. He just HATES them and he is mad!)

“Probably so” acknowledges all of that, skips the argument and moves right on to, “Nevertheless….” which is firm and assertive – and I keep repeating it until Scooter figures out it’s do the damn cards or hear, “Probably so, but nevertheless” on repeat ad infinitum.

Try this phrase. Really. Everyone who has tried it has grown to love it as much as I do. (My cohort wanted to get tee shirts made, but we never did. Nevertheless, it’s a great phrase.) Then, let me know how it went.

So, in summary, bring the fun, teach to your child’s learning style and remember, “Probably so, but nevertheless…” covers a multitude of wrongs.

And finally, I want to say that public school – and especially public school teachers – have many strengths. I know there are bad apples and bad schools, but most I have ever encountered are well-educated, highly skilled professionals committed to learning more, doing better and giving all they have to their students. This post was inspired by yet another thing I read today slamming public schools and public school teachers – and it made me mad and it hurt my heart. We homeschool because it’s best for our family – but not because public schools or public school teachers are bad. I owe much of my success at home (and in school) to public schools and public school teachers. I am a better human being for the experiences and relationships I had there. So, godspeed, public educators – and thank you.

 

 

Daily Schedule

Every homeschooling methodology book I’ve read (except for Unschooling books) seems to include a section on schedules.

Which I skip. Because, hey – it’s my home and my family and I am going to do what works for us, right?

But, I understand some families considering homeschooling or new to homeschooling would like to know our schedule, so in this post I’ll share ours.

However, you need to know a few things about our family to fully appreciate a) why I felt confident jumping into homeschooling without following someone else’s schedule and b) why we use this particular type of scheduling method.

First, our family needs routine. One of us has Attention Deficit Disorder. Two, possibly three of us, also cope with anxiety. Routines are comforting to us, keep us on track, help us develop a sense of predictability and accomplishment and generally, keep the wheels from falling off. We’ve been refining our home and family routines for quite a while – adding a homeschooling routine/schedule into the mix wasn’t really that big of a deal.

Second, we use this particular type of schedule because it is visual, touchable and flexible. Scooter does not read independently yet, both boys enjoy turning little cards, and it is easily changed each day.

Your family may not need as much detail or need a touchable system. Your family may just roll along happily and without question with one caregiver acting as ringmaster. (If this is your family, lucky, lucky you.)

But, in any case, here is what works for us.

Daily ScheduleI found daily schedule cards at this site. I love them! They are small, have a picture on each one, have lots of variety (boardwalk, anyone?) including two blank cards, and best of all – they are free! I printed them on heavy card stock (grey was what I had on hand) and just cut them out. They fit five-across in my table-top pocket chart by Learning Resources.

Next, I created my own cards for  our actual school work. They are larger, but also have a picture on each one and include blank cards. As soon as I figure out how (which will be after I make dinner, bathe the spawn, and wrestle them to bed), I will link to my file so you can download a copy if you’d like. Update: You can now download my School ScheduleSchool Activity Cards.

Please know that we do not do every subject every day except for Language Arts and Math. Scooter is barely six and I have other things to do – like manage a household, maintain my super-model figure and write blog posts to be read for the masses.

Instead, I often allow him to choose between science and history – though lately we have done both since both of the unit studies we are doing really interest him right now. (The solar system and ancient Egypt, for the curious.)

We do art and music when we make time. The kids usually do some kind of art every day. Just this week, in fact, they did a Jackson Pollock recreation with popcorn, mini marshmallows and Nerds candy on the new family room rug while I was on the phone. But, I digress. As for music, we do that whenever I can stomach the thought of fighting over the instruments or singing another round of “We Are the Dinosaurs.” Most days, we turn on NPR in the car, hope it’s a musical program and call it done. The shoemaker’s children…

Life Skills includes sewing, cleaning, cooking, helping with the chickens and helping with the yard and garden. Basically, anything that needs doing around the homestead that I can do with some “help” from the children with reasonable hope of success. Scooter’s chores include making his bed, sorting laundry, putting clean laundry away, putting his own belongings away, helping me put many of his brother’s belongings away, clearing the table after meals, walking the dog at lunch time (just down the driveway and around the culdesac – don’t freak out!), and setting the table for dinner. He also dusts, uses the hand vacuum around the edges and corners of rooms, cleans glass-topped tables and the front of the china cabinet and sorts clean socks. He feeds his own fish and helps feed the mammals. He tells me this is exhausting.

And, last but not least, German – new this week.

I know, Classical educator friends – no Latin. What about the children? Well, I know this may be quite a shock, but Latin doesn’t give me any warm fuzzies. None. And at this point in my life, I cannot muster up the strength to teach something about which I have no warm fuzzies. Ad infernum cum eo.

So, there it is. Ta da. Now, go do what works for you and ignore this post entirely.