I Am New to Waldorf – Where Do I Start?
Entering the Waldorf world can be a little overwhelming! There are so many books, blogs, curricula, art supplies… not to mention the expensive wooden toys… and don’t get me started on knitting, lol!
I have been interested in Waldorf Education for seven years, but I can honestly say that I did not really begin “living it” until three years ago. Before then, I was a Waldorf blog surfer. What I have learned since then is that Waldorf Education is not about blogging, pretty pictures, wooden toys, fairies or play silks- it is the day to day striving, learning and growing that makes us Waldorf Homechoolers. I remember the very tangible shift that happened three years ago- it was the day I threw out the tv, early academics and the self doubt that plagued my parenting every day! Since that time, I have become more self aware, confident, more in touch with the Spirit and Nature, more in love with my husband and children, and more joyful in this long and difficult journey.
These are of our living room and school room in our 900 sq. foot apartment off a very busy street in Salt Lake City, Utah. It is less than glamorous… we do not have a giant yard or chickens, but it is home… and this is where the magic happens 🙂 Do not let excuses keep you from living a Waldorf inspired life- if it is the life you really want- make it happen and start now 🙂
While not an expert, I understand coming from a mainstream childhood and entering this wonderful world of Waldorf and not knowing how to begin. Along my journey, I have been mentored by wonderful women like: Melisa Nielsen, Faith Collins, Suzanne Downs, Barbara Rose and Heidi Cox (as well as countless authors, presenters and teachers who have shared their gifts with me).
So take from this what resonates with YOU!
A Very Useful List of Books, Posts and Articles
Rhythms of Learning by Roberto Trostli- A collection of lectures by Rudolf Steiner, the founder of Waldorf Education. These are presented in a very succinct way with helpful commentaries. This should be your foundation for creating a Waldorf home or school environment.
You Are Your Child’s First Teacher by Rahima Dancy – there are many Waldorf books that focus on Early Childhood, but this one is my very favorite! I return to it every year as a helpful reminder of healthy child development and how to create a nurturing home environment for your children at every age.
Other inspiring books to consider:
Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne- Simple rhythms, clutter free home environment and the importance of quiet, free play and unhurried lives- a wonderfully inspiring resource!
Beyond the Rainbow Bridge– another wonderful early childhood book that includes a helpful Q & A section. This lovely book focuses on creating a nurturing home environment, children’s stages, the importance of warmth, nourishing food and purposeful work.
Mitten Strings for God– by Katrina Kenison- a delicious narrative of a Waldorf mom’s experience through the year with her children
Festivals, Family and Food or A Child’s Seasonal Treasury – these are amazing tomes full of seasonal poetry, circle songs, recipes and activities
Before the Journey by Melisa Nielsen- this charming book follows 4 women through the year as they parent, teach and love their children. This includes stories, recipes and crafts- it is a great way to see how Waldorf looks in the home.
Online Articles and Resources:
I am new to Waldorf- Where do I start?
- Pick a book from the list to really dig into. Try not to use blogs or Pinterest as a way to discover what Waldorf really is. You will most likely become overwhelmed with arts and crafts projects, beautiful country homes and home cooked meals. You will feel like you can never measure up! Just don’t go there, lol! Discover the foundations of Waldorf Education for yourself, see how they resonate with you and incorporate it into where you and your family are NOW.
- Take notes on what you are learning and reading. Try not to ingest too much at once. Pick one chapter or 1-2 articles to focus on for a week. Sleep on them and see what inspirations come to you throughout the week. Keep a Waldorf notebook with articles, ideas and doodles- these will be a great resource to return to as you go along your journey.
- Simplify and Beautify your Home Environment- When I first started my Waldorf Journey, I signaled the change by putting our TV in the closest and decluttering the toys, books and movies that didn’t fit our families’ values. I replaced light up and overtly commercial toys with blocks and natural object, art supplies and play dough. (The nice Waldorf toys came much later!) I still have some plastic toys (it is a process!)
- Read all you can about the importance of Rhythm- write down what a typical week and day look like in your home now. How balanced is it? Think about areas of your life such as: Home, Career, School, Outdoor Time, Creativity, Spirituality, Relationships, etc. I use colored pencils that correspond to each area of my life so I can more clearly see where I am lacking. Plan your meals, create nourishing routines for you and your children to make your days go smoother. Children thrive with consistency!
- Find an encouraging voice that can guide you on your journey! When I was first beginning I enjoyed this free radio series by Melisa Nielsen and Lauri Bolland. http://waldorfessentials.com/chatslauri/ .
In addition Facebook (if you can use self control) can be a wonderful source of community for those who live far away from strong Waldorf schools and homeschool groups.
Waldorf Homeschooling Support Group
The Waldorf Files
Waldorf Early Childhood and Kindergarten
5. If you plan on homeschooling, purchase a curriculum that fits your budget, style and needs. I highly recommend Melisa Nielsen at Waldorf Essentials.com. She is the one who first inspired me and offered unparalleled support as I threw out the TV, simplified our lives and began to change our family life.
Other curriculum providers include: Christpherus, Eartbscbooling and Live Ed. There are a few others that are hybrid programs, inspired by Waldorf. Marsha Johnson has a wonderful Yahoo Group with great resources and discussion. Wonderful ideas for preschoolers and kindergartners can be found through Waldorf Essentials, Lavender Blue Homeschool and Little Acorn Learning.
If you have a baby or toddler, focus on your rhythm and learning handwork skills such as: knitting, needle felting, watercolor painting, baking and gardening (go slow!)
I highly recommend taking Melisa’s Thinking Feeling Willing Course as it covers all of the reading, methodology and handwork that you need to know to begin Kindergarten or First Grade
6. Read through your chosen curriculum. Write down your questions and ideas as you go. Brainstorm your upcoming year- Take a paper and divide it into 12 squares- write down holidays, festivals and trips first, add in birthdays next, then plan your blocks (For grades 1 and up only).
If you are planning for preschool or kindergarten, plan seasonal, gentle stories and activities that allow for plenty of time for free play, baking, outdoor exploration, storytelling, singing and for working alongside you in the home or garden. That is plenty!
I have used this Planning Boot Camp every year and love it! It is practical and motivating!
For more information on Block planning refer to:
- Pray, pray and Pray some more! Remember that the only person who knows your child better than you is God, the Universe, Source or Spirit. Your own spiritual journey and inner work is at the very core of Waldorf Education. The readings, handwork, planning, will building, gardening, singing, etc… create a wonderful environment for your child, but more importantly, they align you with your higher self. All of the blogs, books, toys and fancy Swedish children’s clothing will not get you closer to becoming a better homeschooler or really help you to understand how this method can transform your home and family. Stay connected to what uplifts and motivates you, and steer clear of the “stuff” that one can easily confuse with Waldorf.
8. After you have done these steps, you may carefully start purchasing more books and supplies 😉 This part is really fun, but remember that it is only one part of Waldorf Education.
For someone just starting out, I would recommend:
1 set of Stockmar beeswax stick crayons (for your kids)
1 set of Stockmar primary color watercolor paints
large brushes and a sponge for painting
1 Waldorf cookbook such and “The Waldorf Book of Kindergarten Snacks”
Pinecones, shells, rock and sticks (seriously!)
1 playsilk or cotton scarf (I will plug my etsy shop here: https://www.etsy.com/shop/HearthMagic)
Simple toys such as blocks, a play kitchen or doll
Space to garden with your children
Opportunities for your kids to help you clean and care for your home
3 cups flour
1.5 cups salt
6 tsp. cream of tarter
3 tbsp. oil
3 cups water
Pour all ingredients into a large pot. Stir constantly over medium heat until a dough ball forms by pulling away from the sides. Knead dough until the texture matches play dough (1-2 minutes). Store in plastic container. Should last for at least 3 months.
I know that this education is inspired and changes lives! If want help and support along this journey, feel free to contact me 🙂
Lastly, I would like to share this quote by Lauri Bolland as shared on WaldorfEssentials.com
“So often we stand back waiting for everything to be perfect rather than just doing, walking forward, learning as we go. We can’t get hung up on perfection and should instead be striving.
“Sometimes we can become Perfectionistic Avoiders. In the guise of making everything “perfect” we can end up doing nothing. Imagine for a moment Two Mamas on their way to Waldorf Homeschooling Land. One Mama rolls up her sleeves, plans the trip, and gets going. The other Mama wants everything to be PERFECT first. Imagine Intrepid Mama Hiker slinging her backpack on her back, picking up her walking stick, and starting out on the long homeschooling journey with her little ones in tow. There they go!
Hmmm…Perfectionistic Avoider Mama is standing around on the train platform, smugly waiting for the high speed train to Waldorf Land. She’s scorning the meager 8 miles per day Mama Hiker is gaining (how imperfect!) while waiting for the 300 MPH train that will SURELY catapult her family into Waldorf Homeschooling Land PERFECTION. But guess what? The High Speed Train doesn’t exist. IT ISN’T COMING, MAMA! While Smug Train Mama stands around “perfecting” everything (a noble desire, right? It means lots of talk talk talk and lots of browsing on the internet all day) she’s artfully avoiding doing anything, and Mama Hiker has gained leaps and bounds on her. Smug Train Mama is hamstrung by every decision, needing to find the PERFECT curriculum, the PERFECT reference book, the PERFECT paint and the PERFECT paint paper before she can start.
Mama Hiker works with what she has, and learns from the experience. She is arming herself with wisdom for making all future decisions and gaining skills that research alone will never give. Most importantly, Mama Hiker gains self confidence to do this work with every step she takes. Hmmm… every moment on the train platform – checking her watch, checking the train timetable – leaves Smug Train Mama feeling less and less confident that she can do this work. Eventually she decides that No One can REALLY take this journey, and that – maybe – Waldorf Homeschooling Land doesn’t even exist. Meanwhile, Mama HIker and her intrepid little ones have reached the crest of the hill and see the green valley of Waldorf Homeschooling Land laid out welcoming and inviting in front of them.
Augustine said “Solvitur ambulando.” It is solved by walking. The problem is not solved by standing around wondering how to solve the problem. Its amazing how many problems we can solve when we actually MOVE on them.
Two Mamas. Which will I be today? Which will I be tomorrow? It is solved by walking.”
Best of luck to those starting their journey or to those mamas already scaling the mountain!