Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Our Little Waldorf Crafts Through the Year

I am in the thick of this upcoming year's home schooling planning. Last year we used Oak Meadow, but we won't be doing it again. I have learned so much from that process and about myself as a mother and teacher. While I think Oak Meadow is great for some, it was not the right fit for us. 

Primarily because as I was going through it I realized, I had already been doing what they were planning for us. None of it was new or innovative for me. I did not gain anything from it. Maybe that's because I am a trained teacher or that I have worked in pre-schools. However it wasn't worth the price, if I could just as easily do it myself. (As a side note, I do recommend Wee Folk Art's free curriculum guides for older preschoolers if you're new to doing school on your own at home. I also have used Little Acorn in the past- you do have to pay- and have liked it. Just don't try to do ALL of it. She packs a lot in there and you can get overwhelmed.)

My other issues was that it wasn't really Waldorf. Honestly I wish I could go back in time and tell myself to just re-read 'You Are Your Child's First Teacher' and saved my money! Now I can see myself when Deirdre is in the upper grades, and not a true Kindergartner, getting some help in the form of curriculum. But it won't be Oak Meadow. (Again this is not an attack on OM, I think they are a lovely company and school and great for some- just not us).

This year, armed with helpful guides, I will not be using a formal curriculum rather I will be making and using my own Waldorf one. I am very excited about it. It is very simple honestly because truly it will be just Jonas and Deirdre. Both of them would be in a Waldorf kindergarten class together (which has ages 3 1/2 to older 5s in them). Daily life is really all the learning they need at this age. We will be having fun, learning stories, rhymes, songs, and doing crafts. We'll be baking more and doing lessons less. For Deirdre as she shows interest we'll be working on reading and some math (Deirdre learned to read this year) but I won't be pushing either since in a true Waldorf school she would not be formally learning either for another year. 

It is more work in a way to make my own, but better in many many ways. Cost is one, confidence is another, as well as being able to really tailor it to what I think works well for us and trying to incorporate more rhythm into our days. We, myself included, could be more well rounded in our lives. In that way I end up wasting less time by re-tailoring it our needs like I was doing with OM. 

So I wanted to share with you some of what we ended up doing last year from January to May (when we gave up on Oak Meadow). These are mainly just kid crafts that I snapped a photo of in the middle of making them. They're not great photos but I was on the run! They also aren't overly Waldorf. We watercolor paint, model beeswax, finger knit weekly and do one big project once a month. The rest of the days we do little bitty fun crafts. Ones that I mostly find from pinterest. Here are a few:

January: Winter, Animals in the Winter (Epiphany)
February: Winter, Clouds (Candlemas/ St. Valentines)
March: Spring, Mushrooms (St. Patrick/ Lent)
April: Spring, Frogs (Lent/Easter)
May: Spring, Butterflies and Flowers (May Day)

What sorts of crafts do you do through the year? If you home school, what do you use and how do you plan it? I'd love to know!

Until next time-

Linking up this week with Frontier DreamsMagic OnionsNatural Suburbia, and Crafty Moms Share and a few others! Please check out my 'where I party' page! 


  1. Testing the new commenting!

  2. Looks good!! You did a lot and I have to say I think more than Hazel did in her nursery class at a Waldorf school. Thank you for sharing at Sharing Saturday!!

  3. Hi Nicole! Found your blog through the Waldorf Support page on Facebook and I love it!! What a beautiful home and spirit you have! I wanted to ask your thoughts on teaching reading, as you seem to be looking to keep your home "authentically" Waldorf for the most part, but you also seem to be following your daughter's lead as far as introducing academics earlier than Waldorf prescribes. This is a constant internal battle I have with myself regarding my son and our homeschooling. He is only 3.5 but is already able to do basic reading (almost all self taught)...at the beginning of the summer I figured since he was already headed in that direction I should take the opportunity (I am Montessori trained so in the mindset of taking advantage of "sensitive periods") to teach him. But because after much thought over the past few months I am really set on making our homeschool Waldorf inspired, I always had this guilt that I was doing something "wrong". But at the same time I feel like it is such a "waste" of everything he already knows, if we do nothing for the next 3 years and he forgets it all and has to start from scratch. Now I am babbling haha. This is just such a dilemma for me. I would love any words of wisdom you can share!! I decided to "take off" the entire month of August to dedicate to planning for next year, and also so I can maybe make some decisions about this academics dilemma!

    1. So happy to have you! I am glad that you found this place :) I love how facebook leads us to new corners of the internet! You've hit on a hard topic that I myself have been wrestling with a bit since learning more about Waldorf and reading more of Steiner's works.

      I try to take a balanced approach. Last year we did Oak Meadow, which had Deirdre learning vowels and some word families. One her own, just through the little things we did around the house, she had already learned her ABCs before 5. Then totally out of order this past January she started reading on her own! I began then to work with her gently as she asked. I got her simple books. I helped her write little stories. Ect. In hindsight I would not have done OM or been overly intentional about teaching vowels and word families. She wanted to learn her ABCs, so as we learned about different seasons and animals, I taught them to her from age 3-5 sporadically. I made sure to not force it on her but rather follow her curiosity.

      I think with my son I will just stick to a more purely Waldorf kindergarten curriculum. With that said, he also might still learn to read on his own, like Deirdre did mostly, at 5. And if he does, I will help him along and stimulate him in that area. If not, I won't begin until 7.

      I think regardless we as mothers do know best. We know when our children are ready. We know if they are resisting a subject or not enjoying it. I think being attuned to that is very important. I firmly believe you will know when your child is ready to read because it will come so naturally and easy to them when they're ready. No drills, no sight words. It's organic and magical.

      I will also say that I find Montessori's sensitive periods intriguing because there is now good research backing that timing. I think the issue is how public schools implement this in a one size fits all manner with all incoming- younger and older- kindergartners, which is unhealthy for them and robs them of their love of learning. Since as home-schoolers it's just us and our children I think we can gauge their readiness much better.

      Lastly, there is a story I've heard several times about Steiner- one time in a guide written by Melisa Nielsen. One night Steiner went out to dinner with some of his pupils to a restaurant. All of his pupils went first and ordered vegetarian dishes since he was staunch vegetarian. When it came to his turn, he ordered a meat dish. His pupils were shocked. He responded that they should not follow him blindly rather take what they had learned from him and apply it critically to their own lives in the ways that they saw fit.

      I try to do the same when it comes to the kids. It doesn't make sense- not does it feel right- at this point to stop and not nurture Deirdre's curiosity. If she in a few months stops wanting to read I won't push her either. I will follow her cues and continue to critically apply Waldorf's tenants in our lives as much as I can- in the way I best see fit :)

      I hope that helps! Please feel free to email me! Thinking of you while you mull over this in the upcoming weeks!

  4. What a wonderful and thoughtful response! Thank you so much! You are absolutely right that the gift of homeschooling (one of many gifts that is!) is that we get to really meet our children's needs, needs which may be constantly changing, using the guidance and wisdom of things like Waldorf or Montessori, but also using our own observations and "mama wisdom" (I hope I have at least a little bit of it haha). I think sometimes I really want to just follow one system or school of thought because it would just be "easier" for me...lazy lazy I know...but I know it is better to use my son as my main guide. All that being said, I still am not sure what I'm going to do about reading. :) I feel like most kids who I hear of learning to read on their own are "whole language" readers...as in they recognize whole words, as opposed to using phonics to sound out. My son, on the other hand, doesn't seem to recognize words too much at all, but has known the letter sounds since before he was 2, and is constantly trying to sound out words...of course, with all of the exceptions in the English language, he is often stumped, and then I get the feeling like I want to help him along. Oh, what to do...I think we will start off the first month without any "academics" and then go from there...Thank you so much again for taking the time to write such a thorough response!


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