But Is It Waldorf?

Here’s my one week progress report on the journey back home by my younger son, Gabriel. A couple of entries ago (eeecchh – sounds like items on a menu) – er, a couple of blogs ago? – no that’s worse – anyway I recently wrote here about the fact that my 12 year old has returned home from a brief stint at school. Last week was our first week of homeschooling since he went to school in March.
Last week was also the week of teacher/parent meetings at the local Waldorf high school where I teach part time. So it was pretty hairy. I knew that I’d be in and out everyday, what with meetings and a teacher in-service meeting, I’d be all over the place. So what to do with Gabriel?
Having been homeschooled for most of his life (he was only in school for a few months) he’s been well trained. Even when I was around all the time, I have always been busy – in recent years, Christopherus has kept me – or us, rather – on our toes and much of my day has been spent writing. There were many times in the past that I’d look up from a Christopherus book I was writing and see both my sons engrossed in their own short stories or reports – things rarely assigned by me, but rather out of their own initiative.
So Gabriel knew when he came home that homeschooling means 1 part Mama to 3 parts Gabriel. Especially on weeks like this!
So how did we manage? On the Sunday before we started I spent a couple of hours working out what we would acomplish. I looked through resources that we already had. I thought about the 6th grade curriculum and about Gabriel’s needs and interests. And I came up with a plan.
Every morning Gabriel had a Roman History assignment (thankfully I had that useful Roman History unit study written by the nice lady from Christopherus Homeschool Resources to guide me!). I read to him, he’d work on writing a summary of the Aeneid (after he’d read it), copied things into his Main Lesson book and illustrated his writing. He also spent some time memorising a passage from the original Aeneid by Vigil, in Latin and English.
Speaking of Latin, Gabriel decided he wants to learn Latin. So every day he works by himself in his Dad’s Cambridge Latin Course workbook. He is also  studying German and as I don’t speak it nor am able to teach it, he works on a German computer program by Rosetta Stone. He’s also learning to type, so he spends about 15 minutes a day working on that, too.
As he is doing quite a bit of composition in the course of his Roman history studies, I am leaving English a bit, though I have written out some assignments for him to do in Gabriel Arquilevitch’s Writing for 100 Days (which I recommend for students of about 12/13 and up). ( either that or my correspondence course! See the youngwriter’s program on my web site).  Gabriel’s spelling is very poor – so every day we spend about 5 or 10 minutes on a spelling list.
Gabriel has it in his stubborn head that he’s very bad at math – so I have deicided to go easy on math for a while. I have several math workbooks, a combination of drill, word problems and games and he is free to choose from those what he’d like to do – as long as he does about 20 minutes worth of work 4 times a week. My hope is that with a non threatening approach like this, he will regain some of his misplaced confidence.
What else? Piano practice… various art projects (this week he made a plaster mask with me as I needed to perfect this as I will be doing mask making in the Comedy & Tragedy main lesson I am teaching at the Waldorf high school) … long walks with the dog… and his own voracious science reading.
So – is it Waldorf?! I don’t know! I know I work deeply with anthroposophy. I know I understand the Waldorf curriculum, the hows and whys that weave through it. And I have a pretty good working knowledge of who my son is and what he needs. So I put it together and wrap it around with my family’s own circumstances – and is it Waldorf? Sure doesn’t look what he’d be doing if he was at school! But I think that it comes from the same source and I think it is what works for us.
As I always say to people who consult with me – "homeschooling is about family" AND "not school at home". Strive to understand the ideas behind the Waldorf curriculum and how it has been crafted. Meditate deeply on what your particular children need – as well as the family as a whole. And then do what works. It may not look like Waldorf, but if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!

Posted on October 21, 2005 in General Homeschooling, Waldorf Curriculum

  • Deborah Barker says:

    The two articles about your son both had a huge resonance for me. I too have a 6th grader at home who came out of Steiner school in May. She has an older sister in Steiner school, a brother at a local 6th form college( who went right through Steiner Ed) My partner and I are both self employed. We weave in and out of working together in different constellations, on different subjects in the woods, at home, on the beach, in the car, in cafes. Most of the time it is wonderful and occassionaly fraught but I too feel that the impulse out of which we work is the most important and nourishing aspect of our approach to home ed. Much supported and inspired by your books and the main lesson books of my older children we work out a plan of study for the week/month/year. Her nature too is to be easily overstimulated and it has been wonderful to see her blossom and grow with the gift of home ed. I am often asked about the ‘problem of peers’. For the first time since leaving kindergarten she has a rich social life. Our experience was that school left her so fraught and overstimulated that she spent evenings and weekends recovering! Now she does a range of afternoon/early evening activities has a fulfilling social life as well as a style of education that really meets her needs.

  • Karin Nance says:

    I really enjoyed this article and my kids want to learn latin. I started your homeschooling cirriculum this year and wondered if you had a suggestion of a latin study that was more angled at waldorf homeschoolers, i.e. not so heavy on the videos.

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