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:: home’s cool ::

June 28, 2011

The school year is winding down (one more day! I was informed this morning) and as such, I’ve been eyeing up programs and activities to keep Ava occupied during the summer.  I’ve been very interested in the Waldorf philosophy of education for a few years now, incorporating activities here and there throughout the year.  This summer, I decided I wanted to loosely homeschool Ava to help her retain the skills she needs going into Grade 3.

Waldorf education is based on the principles of Rudolf Steiner and is a holistic approach to educating children.  Early education is based upon the senses, exploration and play.  Hand work, crafts and painting become a primary point in the daily routine as do rhymes, songs and stories.  An example of using such rhymes can be found in this quick article for teaching spelling.  Ava has shown a propensity towards creative expression, hands-on learning and painting, all of which are emphasized within the Waldorf curriculum, so I felt that this would be a great match for us.

Now to be clear, we are not pulling her out of the public school system. We are just dabbling in activities over this summer.  Every summer I plan things for the kids to do, but this year I chose to follow a developed curriculum created by Oak Meadow, a leading distance educator and homeschool designer of curricula catered to the Waldorf philosophy. (For teacher-geeks like me, you can check out grade-by-grade objectives here).  We will use the curriculum lessons outlined to focus primarily on Language Arts, Math and Science as well as art and recorder.  Form drawing is the Waldorf preparation for handwriting.  The designs are beautiful and intricate art in their own right.  As handwriting is one of the skills I anticipate will cause Ava anxiety in the coming school year, we will be spending time on the fine motor skill coordination and dexterity necessary for it.

In addition to exploring the world of fairy tales and form drawing, another difference between Waldorf and public education is the concept of the main lesson book.  Rather than a child receiving a textbook or required materials for each class, the child is given an empty book and records the lessons that they learn each day inside of it.  Teaching Handwork is a blog that has examples from students’ main lesson books.  The results are simply stunning.

I hope to be able to post back on the different methods and how they are progressing for us.  I am generally enamoured with the whole concept of Waldorf education and hope that by ‘practicing’ with Ava over the summer I will be able to refine my techniques and find ways to bring these experiences into the classrooms and students I will interact with come fall.

For more information on specific Waldorf practices and ideas, please check out the Waldorf Online Library. I’ve added some links to articles below that I hope you will enjoy 🙂

There’s More to Reading Than Meets the Eye

Reading in Waldorf Schools Begins in Kindergarten and Avoids Clouding the Mind’s Eye

The Vital Role of Play in Childhood

How to Nurture Storytelling

Books to Enjoy:

You Are Your Child’s First Teacher

Living Literacy

Verses and Poems and Stories to Tell

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