The Waldorf method of homeschooling was created by an Austrian man named Rudolf Steiner in 1919, when he opened his first school. He believed that education should be inclusive of the whole child: head, heart, and hands, while focusing heavily on the arts, folklore and mythology, and the natural world.
Steiner himself believed in a faith called anthroposophy which has to do with a person’s spirituality and awareness of this spiritual self but attempted to create an education model that wasn’t based in any faith in particular and focuses more on a child’s natural wonder at creation. However, many of the basic roots of his belief systems are integrated into every day learning – such as connecting with the spiritual realm and prayers. As such, the Waldorf method tends to be controversial.
In a Waldorf curriculum, reading is delayed until later in the 2nd grade, instead focusing on oral stories and understanding of letters and writing first. The arts are interweaved with all other subjects to help make them more tangible and beautiful. In a classroom model, especially in the early years, students will often have the same teacher for several years. This is designed to create a family-like atmosphere for learning. There are also some unique features included in their education such as eurythmy – movement with language, the inclusion of handiwork such as knitting, an early introduction to world languages, and a single intentional block of time each day (between 1 – 2 hours) set aside for teaching/learning.
Many of the toys and resources are natural – woods and silks and beeswax crayons and there is a general avoidance of technology and television as the goal is to inspire imagination.
In the early years, an emphasis is placed on imagination, storytelling, and developing an appreciation of the beauty of the arts and world around them. In the older grades, art skills are refined as students turn the things they’ve learned in various subjects into beautiful textbooks. High school is where students are believed to fully grasp more abstract thoughts and learning.
- The combination of academics with the arts makes the learning memorable.
- Encourages looking at things from different approaches, leading to an ability to think outside the box
- It encourages a vivid imagination
- It is a co-operative approach to learning, not competitive
- All areas of learning are considered as equally important as others
- Some people find the religious basis for the program concerning
- Delayed academics can be of concern for some (but this can also be a benefit for others)
- Can be expensive to get quality materials
- A heavy emphasis on the arts might not be a good fit for all children
- Technology favouring families might find the non-tech approach challenging
Examples of Waldorf Homeschool Curriculum
Where to Buy Waldorf Resources in Canada
Waldorf Homeschooling Blog
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