You know the saying, one size fits all? SO, I was thinking about Waldorf curriculum and changed that saying in my head to one size fits most. Or one size fits some. But really, the truth is, it’s more like one size fits none.
Why do I say that?
For so many reasons!
First of all, Rudolf Steiner said to teach the children before us. To craft the curriculum specifically for them. And so for a long time, there were no Waldorf curriculum packages to buy! Precisely for that reason. Because Steiner wanted every teacher to create the curriculum for their particular situation.
That was the case when my oldest children were in the early elementary grades. No Waldorf homeschooling curriculum existed yet. Back then, everyone was creating their own curriculum – classroom teachers and Waldorf homeschoolers alike.
Now today, we seem to have the opposite challenge! There are so many curriculum packages to choose from, it’s overwhelming. And to me, the real danger is in thinking that once we choose which curriculum to buy and use, we’re done!
So let’s start with why crafting a Waldorf curriculum is so complicated. First of all, there are so many pieces and parts. There are multiple main lesson blocks per grade. I calculated once that if you do on average 7 blocks per year (it’s usually between 6 and 8), that’s 56 main lesson blocks in grades 1-8. Then add in more if you have more than one child! And within each main lesson block, you have these activities to choose and plan: stories & their summaries, drawings and paintings, verses, songs, movement games, handwork, modeling, and other engaging activities.
Wow, that’s a lot of pieces and parts for sure.
No wonder we’re all tempted to search for the just-right “open & go” curriculum, so that we can relax a little and be ready for teaching tomorrow.
Only it just doesn’t exactly work that way.
Have you ever purchased or downloaded a free menu plan? I have. Here is a short list of some of them I’ve collected over the years:
Allergy-Free Menu Planner, Grain Free Meal Plan, Nourishing Foods Menu Planner, 10-Day Detox Diet, and the Autoimmune Paleo Meal Plan.
And have I ever used these plans exactly as they are written? No! In fact, I am sure that I could have just used one and created my own modeled after that. Or just created my own to begin with more easily!
Sometimes it’s trickier to re-fashion someone else’s plan than to start from scratch and create your own.
It’s like the summer that I decided to purchase an Oak Meadow curriculum and turn it into a main lesson block plan. Oak Meadow has some Waldorf influence but it is not laid out in blocks. Instead, the student does a little bit of every subject every day just like in a traditional school setting. (Which by the way, I find incredibly tedious and my kids get bored after about the second week.)
So one summer, given that I had a very busy year coming up and I felt that insecurity of not providing a rigorous enough curriculum for my children, I decided to focus my planning energy more on my high schooler’s studies and the Waldorf group I was leading. And refashion Oak Meadow for my 4th grader’s lessons at home.
I spent every morning for two weeks while my daughter was at tennis lessons outlining, listing, and creating a plan that took the Oak Meadow lessons and grouped them into the more traditional main lesson blocks for fourth grade.
It was a lot of work! I still wasn’t finished after those two weeks, but I had a start with the first two blocks planned out. I had a rough idea of which blocks I’d do when for the year, so at least I knew which block I needed to plan after the first two.
Looking it over, the plan seemed a little complicated and our days looked like they were stuffed full of reading and answering comprehension questions, but I was ready to give it a go.
We only lasted maybe two and a half weeks! It was still tedious and boring and just didn’t fit. It was way too much reading and writing answers to those pesky comprehension questions and not nearly enough hands-on activities like we were used to.
Truthfully, I’ve tried many of the Waldorf curricula out there with my youngest. And each and every one has its strengths and weaknesses. In addition, each is better suited for different personalities of both the facilitator (that’s you!) and the students.
Don’t get me wrong. I appreciate that Waldorf curriculum packages exist these days. It can be a great starting point, especially for new homeschoolers. But there’s a critical caveat to keep in mind. Buying curriculum is a starting point, not the end point. It still takes time and effort to craft that curriculum into a plan for your family.
Really, what we all need to do is create a unique curriculum plan that works for us and for our children. Just as Steiner suggested. And really, it’s not as hard as it seems.
So be sure to give yourself plenty of time to create your own plan. And if you want help, I specialize in strategy and support for Waldorf homeschoolers. My mission is to empower and inspired parents to create their own personalized homeschooling plan that’s just right or their family. A plan that’s practical, do-able and sustainable. So you can DIY it. And customize anything! Whether you are brand new to Waldorf and need a curriculum as a framework to begin, or you have a bit of experience and are ready to start from scratch, I can empower and inspire you to create and customize a plan that’s just right for you and your children.
Check out Mentor Sessions with Jean if you want details on how I can help you one-on-one. Or if you would like to be part of wonderful Waldorf homeschoolers on this journey together, consider joining me for Plan It Out, my online group coaching program.
Want to read more thoughts on curriculum? I suggest the two posts below.