I’d like to write a little about what I love about Waldorf and what I would like to bring into our homeschool program. Right now I am loving how much I am learning about things I hadn’t given much thought to before. I have long been a fan of simple living and minimalism. I dislike clutter and hoarding things, but there is some aspect of Waldorf education that is very simple in nature. Limiting toys, media exposure, and even books is encouraged. I didn’t understand why one would ever limit books, but am discovering that too much information is just as detrimental as too many toys. As an adult I can definitely relate to information overload and how it contributes to my overall sense of well-being. What I would like to take from this is not that I have to have all things waldorf in my home, but to really look at how the things we have in our home affect us.
I have had a ‘teaching wall’ up in our house since H was about 3 years old. It started out with pictures he drew and then I added a calendar and map and it eventually progressed into a full-fledged school room bulletin board complete with fun seasonal boarder. He is almost 7 now and I know all the kids are rather fond of the posters of the human body and other charts that I have up, but I think it is time for these things to go. One of the things I am learning more about as I explore Waldorf is the child taking the learning into their being. That is the best way I can describe it right now. It is not just learning the alphabet and math facts and that these letters make these sounds, but actually forming a relationship on a deeper level with learning concepts. For example, each letter of the alphabet is taught with a story and beautiful illustration of the letter and words that start with that letter. So that when they see the letter M, they are not just seeing that letter, but it has become part of them through the story. I’ll admit that I am just beginning to understand this concept and am far from truly knowledgeable, but I can really see the value in this kind of learning. So piece by piece I am removing the ‘meaningless’ letters and numbers and charts from our walls to make space for a deeper learning to take place.
Another thing that I am loving about Waldorf education is the concept of rhythm. I have developed a family rhythm and we have been practicing for about 5 weeks now and it is wonderful. Somehow all on their own the children have almost entirely given up on television since the rhythm doesn’t really have any space for it. That is not to say that they do not have free time, but they have chosen to use their free time for play rather than passive television watching. Though with Halloween and Christmas right around the corner (plus cold weather), I am interested to see how this plays out through the winter. We do love to snuggle up and watch our holiday movies (on repeat). The concept of rhythm is so great (both vast and wonderful) that I will definitely explore it in more detail in the future, but suffice to say it has been life altering and quite meaningful for us.
The biggest struggle I am having with family life right now is struggling with living up to the Waldorf lifestyle. It is so easy to get caught up in the thought that my homeschool needs this or that to be complete, especially when the few little things I have done have produced such great results. It is important for me to remember baby steps and that there is not ONE way to do things. Also important is to realize that Steiner developed his ideas nearly 100 years ago and while many of the aspects of Waldorf education are still valid and valuable, some things may not be as important or applicable as others.