Why homeschool? There are many reasons why people choose to educate their children at home. Here are a few:
- Because they feel they can offer a superior education to their child.
- Because their child is unhappy (stressed, has needs unmet, falling behind, being bullied) at school.
- Because they value family life and feel it is the best place for children to be raised and don't appreciate the inroads school makes on their family.
- Because they love to learn and are excited about sharing an ongoing learning adventure with their child.
Many parents who want a Waldorf education for their children become homeschoolers for these reasons and also because the financial and time commitments - which are, unfortunately, an unavoidable feature of life as a Waldorf school family - become too much. We have met so many burnt-out, emotionally and financially-drained parents who, in wanting a healthy form of education for their children, have undermined the health of their families.
Of course, a Waldorf school is the ideal place for many children to be. Unfortunately, the financial cost of independent education puts Waldorf school enrollment beyond the reach of many families.
Waldorf-inspired homeschooling is a viable option for many people. We are here to help you explore this possibility. We hope you find our website a helpful resource and urge you to consider the following:
- Find others in your area who are homeschooling with Waldorf
- Ask questions on the Homespun Waldorf forum or other online Waldorf homeschooling groups
- Consider having a conversation with our Christopherus consultant. An hour's conversation with an experienced Waldorf homeschooler could be a really big help!
There are, of course, legal ramifications to the decision to educate your children at home: we look at the legal requirements in the United States, and offer usefull links for those of you in the UK, Canada and Australia on our International Resources Page.
Erik was having a terrible time getting through his days at public school. He had hours of school work every, and I mean EVERY night. I knew something about him was different. The whole family knew that we struggled with him trying to help his reasoning skills. "Make the school earn their money, make them put him in a special class"..."Go to the Love and Logic seminar"..."read this book, read that book"..."do this, don't do that"...All kinds of great suggestions were made from the outside.
I requested in writing to the school that Erik be tested for intelligence, social skills, behavior and any other test they may have.
The night before we were to go to the school to hear Erik's test results, I had a bad dream. I dreamt that Erik stayed in public school, continued to be unreasonable and went straight through the cracks of society. He became a bum in every sense of the word, and violent as well. My angels tapped me on the shoulder and I looked at them. They said I could change that possible future. I awoke feeling shaken and scared.
My husband and I went to the school that morning for the results. Erik had a genius level I.Q. in arts and language, and a below normal I.Q. for reasoning. They offered us nothing, except possibly to ship him to a different school district that had an actual program for the gifted and talented.
We thanked them for testing Erik, packed up his belongings from his desk and he never went back...I was in that class room the day before and witnessed Erik going to each pupil, standing in front of their desk bent over trying to get them to look at him. He was saying "Hey, this might be my last day, I'm gonna be home schooled" Not one of the children would even look up at him. Not one of them would even acknowledge him. I felt good about packing up his stuff.
Then we attended Donna's conference and began our journey.
I immediately contacted someone from a local home school social group. We began to go once a week to the play ground and meet them. Erik fell in with a boy about his age and soon was asking to go over to his home and play. He went over for 2 hours and after picking him up, the mother called. She was so polite and respectful, but let us know Erik's behavior was terrible. He was so mean to her son that the boy locked himself in the bathroom and wouldn't come out until Erik left.
I was mortified. She told me that Erik kept telling her son "Just deal with it". When Erik and I talked later, Erik told me that's what his teacher would say to him when the other children were being mean. I remembered visiting his class one day. Standing in the hall, spying on the situation. I witnessed Erik being made fun of by a large group of kids. I remembered another time standing outside the class, silently observing, unannounced... the teacher was just getting done with a math problem. She put her pointer down and said "Erik, explain this to me"...he looked down "Erik, you don't even have your book out do you?"...he continued looking down and turned red in the face. "You can't follow without your book, right? You're not going to do well if you can't follow directions" she chided him. I walked in just then with his math book in my hand. I so wanted right then to take him out of there.
Come to find out, he had been bullied probably because he was so smart and his reasoning skills were not there. It took us taking him out of that environment and putting him in a new one to find this out.
We kept thinking all summer about what we would do for home schooling. I visited your web site sometimes daily, twice a day, three times a day...reading and thinking. I checked out many Waldorf books from the library. Then, the light bulb went on. I'll just look up what other curriculums there are and come up with our own.
Trying to jump into Waldorf philosophy this late in the game was going to be difficult. But, here's the deal, it's all about heart, hands and head. At 10, Erik was past the 1-7 ages of imitation, so I just had to pick up where his last teacher left off and incorporate love into the whole thing.
I found a book, "What Every Fifth Grader Should Know"...and used it as our base. I found a web site where I could get math and science books. We found a nice big binder to be his main lesson book. I gathered my mother's art supplied from their house and brought them to ours...and we began our journey.
Today, well, right at the moment Erik is eating breakfast. It's lovely weather outside, so some sap gathering for maple syrup is in order. He is a few pages from finishing his math and science books, so that will be after sap collecting. That will take us into the noon hour at which time I will gather the paint and set it out for us to ponder while we eat. We'll take turns reading from "20,000 Leagues Under The Sea" then do our painting. Erik has finished all his Civil War terms and definitions and has the book "Across Five Aprils" which he can take to the tree fort and read later after painting...then it will be time for Karate class. He's testing tonight for his purple belt. The art project is for a contest that a local association is putting on.
His reasoning skills have come leaps and bounds. He no longer talks incessantly, nor does he talk as loud, nor does he interrupt like before. Playing duets on the piano as simple as "Heart and Soul" has caused him to have to LISTEN to the other person and focus. He reads constantly and two days ago made a cake from scratch, that happened to turn out very well.
The other boy in the home school social group took about 6 months to see if he was going to like Erik or not...He decided he did like Erik, and the other day we drove him home from 4-H, Ezra leaned over and hugged Erik on his way out the door. Erik immediately hugged him back. "Thanks for taking me to 4-H, see ya later Erik!!"
I think we'll be fine, now that Erik has a better path, a path at home where he's loved.
Finding out about Homeschooling
A good place to start is the Internet. Ann Zeise’s rather cluttered and frantic website is quite helpful if you don’t allow yourself to get lost on it!
After that, we strongly recommend that you track down and join your state-wide secular homeschooling organization. This is your lifeline for navigating state requirements, meeting flesh and blood homeschooled children, finding out which local museums and such are friendly to homeschoolers… and much more.
The degree of organization and accessibility of such groups varies enormously from state to state. Here in Wisconsin, our group is called the Wisconsin Parents Association and not only publishes a very useful book giving the basics of homeschooling information and outlining the legal requirements in our state, but also acts as a watchdog on all legislation in Madison which could erode our rights as parents and homeschoolers.
Obviously, if you are outside the US, you’ll need to find equivalent groups in your country or area.
Next…. A few books to read. We highly recommend anything written by Raymond and Dorothy Moore, ex-public school teachers turned homeschooling advocates way back in the ‘80s when homeschooling was very new. Now deceased, their wonderful work is carried on by the Moore Foundation which publishes books and also research on the neurological development of children. Their findings point consistently to the “better late than early” approach favored by Waldorf – and even more strongly favored by us here at Christopherus! The Moore’s research points to about 9 as an optimal time to teach writing and reading – our work also confirms that many children, especially boys, are not ready to do much if any writing or reading before this. Interestingly enough, our observations also point to the fact that if pushed early, 9 is about the age when many children (again, especially boys) stop reading and writing with any interest and start to become known as “not interested in reading.”
Caffi Cohen and Mary Griffith have also written a number of interesting homeschooling books from an unschoolers perspective. And of course, everyone needs to read at least one book by that Grandaddy of the unschooling movement, John Holt, if they have any notion to homeschool!
Then, to help you orientate yourself between unschooling and Waldorf (especially if you come from an attachment parenting background), you might like to listen to our audio download on Waldorf and Unschooling which explains the significant philosophical and practical differences between these two approaches.