Autumn is now in fourth grade for Waldorf homeschooling. She will be ten on October 10th and she is turning into such a fine young lady. I am so proud of who she is and all that she aspires to be. She is also a beyond amazing big sister to look up to. Kesa adores her and Serafina trusts and loves her completely.
She is a child of great imagination. Such a helpful, warm and loving soul. Caring and compassionate. Sensitive and phlegmatic. Artistic and creative. And ever helpful around the house and with the cooking and baking.
She idolizes her mother very much, which can be intimidating for me sometimes. I know that I am definitely the one that she looks up to and admires. She watches my every action and listens to my every word, learning from me, questioning my authority (as all children begin to do at the 9-10 year change) and wondering to herself, “Who am I to become?”
Here is my rough plan for our homeschooling year this year. I am not one to follow any set curriculum, but have enlightened myself by listening to Rudolf Steiner himself (the founder of Anthroposohpy and Waldorf Education) to gather information as to how to educate my children, as well as read many books and browsed many websites to gather information in order to find what works for our family.
I think Steiner’s Waldorf approach to education (as well as much of his philosophy) has been tainted in many ways to fit some standardized norm and there are many people searching out a specific Waldorf Curriculum, set of beliefs or rules to follow, people to tell them how to educate their children according to a particular method and a real lack of freedom in thought, which is what Steiner really was all about. Steiner always stressed that every human being is a unique individual and that the purpose of Waldorf education is to preserve that unique individual “I” and to allow it to be born and uncovered without too much (if any) interference.
Waldorf education seeks to be a breeding ground for the birth of the individual into life. We are to enrich children with a real sense of self and love for life through our educational practices. Everything we teach them should be to enable them for life.
Steiner, in all of his works and lectures also constantly placed before our souls the importance of freedom. All teachers should be free to build their own curriculum and method of teaching for each individual child, based on their temperament and their individuality. The teacher’s temperament is also of great significance and he always stressed that who we are as a teacher and role mode, is much more important than how and what we teach. Children can see right into our souls and they can tell whether we are alive and enthusiastic about life, learning and what we teach or if we are simply teaching indolently from a textbook. He said how he would be very disappointed to even walk into a classroom and see a teacher dictating lessons from a book. There simply is no life in that. Unconsciously the child says to themselves, “Why should I have to learn this, if my teacher just reads it from a textbook? I could do that when I am older too.”
Children are wise and highly intuitive and psychic. We must be aware at all times that they can see through us. This should not cause us to fall into a fret over our failures and weaknesses, but to recognize and be aware of just what those shortcomings and weaknesses in our character are and to strive to gradually overcome them through self-study and esoteric development. This acknowledgement of our character faults and weaknesses should spark a desire in us to want to learn, grow and evolve throughout our entire lifetime and to be able to provide our children with an enriching, living and real education, as well as a deep inner enthusiasm and sense of gratitude and reverence towards the divine for all of life.
All education should prepare us for life in the world and not estrange us from reality. We should avoid dead, abstract concepts as best as we can and seek to educate our children in living ways that prepare them for life in the world. There are some things we will have to teach that are of course alien to our true nature as a spiritual being, but it must be so because we are apart of this world.
Gratefully, Steiner’s methods of teaching enable us to preserve the living “I” of the child as best as possible, while still teaching any dead, material concepts, so that the child still remains alive and awake in his or her soul life.
The following is my homeschool plan for fourth grade. The timelines are approximate and really, we are very free and relaxed in our method of homeschooling, as we are in life in general. As long as we do some learning daily and get something accomplished, I am satisfied. Autumn does her work after breakfast for an hour or so and then takes a break for lunch before continuing more of her pages (I hate to call it work, but rather like to call it learning).
Everyday we go outside for an hour long walk together, or the kids at least go and play outside together for an hour or so.
Everyday we read a classic book together for at least an hour. This is something I have placed as a priority in my teaching method. My children will be enriched and enlightened by all of the classics, as I believe that reading builds character and morality and strengthens the soul.
The four most basic and important things to me for my children and in our homeschooling environment are:
1) Love. The atmosphere of our home and the attitude of myself my husband toward our children. Keeping the home clean and peaceful. Modelling the example that I want for my children in myself. Working on myself, studying and taking care of myself so that I can be a loving presence and authority, as well as a model of imitation for my children (same for my husband).
2) Getting Outside. Connecting with nature everyday. Getting out in the sun and fresh air. Seeing and tasting the beauty of each new day we are blessed to experience.
3) Gratitude/Reverence. Modeling an example of gratitude in my behaviors, words and actions. Living a life of devotion, reverence and gratitude for all that we have and receive. Saying prayers and meal blessings. Treating our home, possessions and others with respect. Remaining ever-conscious of my thoughts, words and actions and what a powerful influence they have.
3) Reading. Having a piece of literature of some kind going through our heads daily. Reading together and reading on our own. You can never have too many books!
4) Learning Through Life. Cooking, baking, cleaning, reading, walking, all are ways in which we learn something in life. Even if we don’t “do school” for a day, I feel satisfied that we cleaned the house together, prepared a meal together or even just took a walk together. I trust that my children are learning through all of their daily experiences and I seek to provide an environment for them where they can feel safe, secure and loved as well as harbor an attitude of gratitude for each and every day and each and every experience.
My Fourth Grade Waldorf Plan
- September – October 2014 – Geometry – Introduction to geometric terms and freehand drawings. Definitions of geometric terms. Autumn wrote her own stories using the geometric terms as the characters in an imaginative way and used her knowledge of these terms to create artwork and poetry. We worked on freehand geometric drawings, learned the origin of the circle and of the time lemniscates of the year. We go for walks and see geometry in nature and in our surroundings. She learned about symmetry and drew symmetrical drawings of herself and of some fall leaves we found on our walks together. I took some ideas from the book Geometry Lessons In The Waldorf School for grades 4-5 by Ernst Shuberth.
- Long Division – We will work on learning long division together and she will work independently on her own sheets to practice. (Begin in October 2014).
- Fraction practice – Will be done through everyday life, such as in baking and cooking and eating. (October 2014).
- Roman Numerals – Learning, reading and writing the Roman Numerals. (October 2014).
- Time and Money – We learned this last year at age 9. We learn to use money when we go to the store. I frequently ask Autumn the time and we learn about time by studying the clock, asking each other questions. These studies are primarily done through life.
- English/Spelling – Autumn writes her own imaginative stories. I edit them and she rewrites them. This is how she learns her spelling, punctuation and grammar. When we read classic books together and come across big, descriptive or fascinating words, we write them down and she later does word of the day pages, naming the definition of the word, synonyms, antonyms, prefixes and suffixes for the word, as well as including the word in a sentence of her own and making an illustration of the word. (All throughout the year).
- Writing – Autumn also writes letters to cousins and friends. She has pen pals from around the globe made from my friends who I have made from blogging who have children Autumn’s age. (All throughout the year).
- Stories/Reading – Celtic and Norse Myths. Classic stories. Right now we are reading the second part to Little Women, Good Wives and plan to begin Anne Of Green Gables. So far this homeschooling year we have read: Pinnochio, The Secret Garden, Tales From King Arthur, The Little Prince, and Tales From The Arabian Nights. We read for an hour everyday. Autumn draws a picture from the story and takes her favorite quote from the book and writes it out. She also fills out a book report and does some of the suggested activities included in the back of the puffin classic books. (All throughout the year).
- Painting – Freedom in artistic expression through watercolor and acrylic painting. (All throughout the year).
- Handwork – Autumn does finger knitting and Rainbow Loom for handwork. We want to start crocheting, knitting and sewing more often. She sews with Grandma at sleep overs and can sew basic things with the machine as well as hand stitch. (All throughout the year).
- Botany – We studied botany by using the Charles Kovacs book, Botany. We studied the various plant stages and compared them to that of the development of man. We go out waking in nature every day and identify various things in nature, trees, flowers, shrubs, leaves, etc. Autumn has her own books on trees and flowers that are native to Canada, where we live.
- Zoology – We used the book, The Human Being and The Animal World by Charles Kovacs. We did pages on different animals and how they are constituted differently than man. Man is a synopsis of the entire animal kingdom. Man is different than the animal kingdom because he has hands to bless and to give freely. We actually did zoology last winter when Autumn was 9 years old as well. We watched Planet Earth and BBC Life Documentaries as well as videos on youtube. We studied animals native to Canada. This unit was VERY FUN! We drew our own pictures of the different animals and did a craft after learning about each animal, modelling, baking animal bread, etc
- Old Testament Stories – We studied the Old Testament during the winter of 2013-2014. Autumn made pages after we read through all of Jakob Streit’s books. I suggest reading through all of these books. They are great resources and even my husband, younger daughter and I really enjoyed the stories. There are three books on the Old Testament by Jakob Streit, And There Was Light, Journey To The Promised Land and We Will Build A Temple. Children around the 9-10 year change need these stories to help teach them about morality. The telling of these Old Testament stories to the children around this age are wonderful because the fall from paradise is what they are experiencing at this age (9-10 years) when they no longer feel like a child anymore, but are transitioning from their child-like innocence stage, to a stage where they begin to start living more in the realm of feeling and becoming aware of themselves as separate from their mother or father. It is a recapitulation of what happens to a child at age three when they begin to say “I” of themselves, instead of referring to themselves by their first name as everyone around them always did. They start to have more tempting ego-based thoughts and begin questioning the world and people around them, really asking themselves, “Who am I? And what is my place in this world?” They begin to separate themselves from their parents and no longer want to imitate unconsciously, but rather to choose who they want to idolize and admire. They ask, “Where does the true authority of my teacher come from?” We want the children to learn that the true, loving and constant authority that we need to rely on is God and the Old Testament stories depict that without us having to preach to them or tell them anything in our own words. At this age, beginning from age 7, children learn primarily through storytelling and through presenting them with good, moral characters, rather than intellect, (which they learn from beginning more at around age 12) or imitation, (which they have previously learned from since birth). (Winter 2013)
- Geography – We started with Autumn herself and gradually proceeded to her home, her town, her province, her country, her continent and then the planet earth and the universe. This is to show the children how they fit into the world. Autumn drew many maps and wrote about her life and family. We studied the Aboriginal people and took out local books from our local library about the history of our town and about our province. We had an aboriginal party and feast that she hosted based on what she learned. The kids dressed up and we ate corn, berries, and other foods that the tribe she chose ate. She drew flags and wrote poems. We read the book The Birchbark House by Louise Erdrich and we took a trip to The Forks in Winnipeg, Manitoba. This unit was a lot of fun too! (Summer 2013)
- Norse Mythology – We are so excited to start this study! We actually read the Norse Mythology book by Charles Kovacs already (summer 2012), but it is so awesome we will read it again and Autumn will do pages on it. I also have Myths Of The Norsemen, a Puffin Classic by Roger Lancelyn Green. (November 2014)
- Music – We were going to get Autumn into piano, but for now she is just in tap and jazz dance, which is her passion. (Dance runs from September 2014-April 2015)
Other books and resources to help you with your Waldorf homeschool planning.
- Encountering The Self by Hermann Koepke
- Steiner Education In Theory and Practice by Gilbert Childs
- Rhythms of Learning by Roberto Trostli
- The Waldorf Book Of Poetry – by David Kennedy (we all love to read these poems and I get Autumn to wrote out her favorites)
- The Complete Grimm’s Fairy Tales – by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm
- All Year Round – Ann Druit
- Anything By Charles Kovacs (Botany, The Human Being and The Animal World and Norse Mythology are specifically for fourth grade, ages 9-10)
- Stories Of The Saints – by Siegwart Knipenga
- The Education Of The Child – Rudolf Steiner
- Practical Advice to Teachers – Rudolf Steiner
- Human Values In Education – Rudolf Steiner
The Kingdom Of Childhood – Rudolf Steiner
The Child’s Changing Consciousness – Rudolf Steiner
The Essentials Of Education – Rudolf Steiner
Balance In Teaching Rudolf Steiner
Great books with great moral messages and characters to build up young people (especially young girls)
- Little House On The Prairie Series – by Laura Ingalls Wilder (Laura Ingalls)
- Anne Of Green Gables – by L.M. Montgomery (Anne)
- Little Women – by Louisa May Alcott
- Heidi – by Johana Spyri (Heidi)
- Eight Cousins – by Louisa May Alcott (we really enjoyed this one. Rose is the main character)
- The Secret Garden – by
- Black Beauty – by Anna Sewell (such a heartwarming and heartbreaking story)
- Mary Poppins – by P.L. Travers (4 books in the series. These are so much fun and teach deep lessons for all)
And rudolfsteineraudio.com has many of Steiner’s written works and lectures available to download in audio format FOR FREE! Do take advantage of this precious resource and be sure to thank Dale! The audio books are great to put on, especially when you are a busy parent. I love to listen to them on my mp3 player when we go out walking or during yoga in the morning. Such a blessing!
Browse Pinterest boards on Waldorf education for some inspiration and ideas. There is a ton of stuff out there! Here is a link to mine, disorganized as it is.
I really always emphasize to get your knowledge right from the source, Rudolf Steiner himself and to build your own curriculum based on the knowledge of the development of the human being and on the temperament of yourself and child(ren). Find what works for you and your family and don’t spend too much time comparing yourself to other homeschoolers or families. Be free!
I am happy to help answer questions, give advice and share our experiences with this method in hopes of inspiring you to find what works for you.
I plan on sharing some of the actual work that we have got done soon. I am very proud of all that Autumn has accomplished and believe that her and her work can be a real inspiration to others.
If you also feel like sharing some good books or links or your thoughts and plans for your homeschooling, please do so in the comments below! I think it is so awesome to share and to help one another!
Much Love & Light and Happy Homeschooling! 🙂