The Most Important Step in Homeschool Planning
The most important step in homeschool planning is to start with the Big Picture! Making the choice to homeschool with Waldorf methods gets you part-way there. Working with an excellent curriculum goes a long way toward setting you up for success. But you still need to know how this will look for your family, because there isn’t one right way to do it!
I want you to get in the habit of looking at your homeschool plans through two different lenses.
The first lens is your child.
Your unique and wonderful child is on his own personal and spiritual journey in this world. How will you best guide him? To educate means “to draw out” – it does not mean “to fill with information!” How will you be an educator in the true sense of the word for your child? When you look through this lens you are using your intuition and the vast amount of “data” that you have about your child since the day he was born or even before.
The second lens is your educational philosophy, methodology, or curriculum.
If you are choosing to homeschool with Waldorf methods it’s because you are drawn to it in some way or feel it will benefit your family. What can you learn from Steiner’s philosophy and the Waldorf school traditions to guide your homeschooling journey? What does the curriculum say about the development of your child in this year, the subjects and skills that should be covered in this grade, and the stories that will meet your child’s soul needs right now? When you look through this lens you are relying on the accumulated wisdom of a tradition as well as your impulse for self-education.
In other words, as a homeschooling parent you are asking yourself two questions when you plan: “What do I feel my child needs?” and “What does the curriculum suggest for my child?”
Start planning your homeschool year by looking at the big picture of what you want for your child and your family. The questions that follow can help you get clear on the big picture.
I recommend keeping a journal or notebook for planning and writing down your thoughts on the questions below.
Where would you like to see growth for your child this year? As a holistic homeschooler you can think about growth in many spheres of development: Social, academic/intellectual, emotional, physical, behavioral/habits, artistic, and spiritual.
Where do you want to see growth for yourself this school year as a teacher and parent?
What do you want your family life to look like this year? How do you want to grow as a family?
What do you want this homeschooling year to feel like?
For more on creating your family vision, see this back post on the blog.
What curriculum support do you need to feel confident and prepared for homeschooling this year? A curriculum guide can save you tons of time and even money over putting together your plans from scratch using several different resources. Each of the curriculum options has its own wonderful strengths, so think about what you’re looking for and go from there.
If you’re looking for a complete curriculum that’s as beautiful, supportive, and inspirational as it is carefully organized, planned out day by day, and easy to use, Lavender’s Blue has you covered! At this time at Lavender’s Blue I offer Kindergarten, First Grade, and Second Grade, with more grades to come!
I am really loving how you have organized this curriculum. I feel like I understand how to actually do this, which I have not had that experience with any other resource. Sara M.
Before you choose a curriculum, make sure you’re familiar with the recommended ages for each grade. Waldorf-inspired homeschoolers often do two years or more of kindergarten and first grade is for children who will be seven for most of that school year (so ages 6.5 and up). So then a second grader would be eight years old, nine years old in third grade, and so on. This post will help you understand when to start kindergarten.
Your Essentials: What matters most to you
During the year things will get off track.
There will be a move or baby or something else that takes more time and attention than you planned for. Your child will have developmental spurts and shifts. You will not be able to predict exactly how quickly you can move through the material that you plan out. There will be weeks of losing focus and energy for homeschooling and times when you need to reset and go back to square one.
And that’s all ok, it really is! Teachers in schools fall behind their plans and so does every homeschooling parent. It’s just life.
But for those times it is super helpful to know what is most essential to you. For your unique family, what defines successful homeschooling? I encourage you to dig deeper than just what lessons you want to cover and think more about the experience of learning together.
Make a poster or card for yourself to hang up near the space where you do your homeschooling lessons or planning. On it list out your homeschooling essentials. It might be laughing together, spending afternoons outside, reading together every day, keeping an atmosphere of love and respect, bringing the artistic into your lessons, or whatever feels most important to you. These are the bare bones qualities or activities of your days or weeks that you can cross off and say: “Yes, we had a successful day. No, we didn’t stick perfectly to the plan I made last summer, but we did what is more important: We covered what is most essential.”
Spend some time on the Big Picture planning, and notice what a difference it makes for peaceful homeschooling all year long!