Homeschooling, LifeWays, Sunday With Sarah, Waldorf Homeschooling

Waldorf Homeschooling: How to Choose a Curriculum

This week on Sunday With Sarah I share my thoughts on a few well-established curriculum resources for homeschoolers wishing to incorporate Waldorf methods.

Resources:

Oak Meadow – A more mainstream homeschool curriculum with a Waldorf flavor.

Live Education – A curriculum developed by Waldorf class teachers. Waldorf school at home.

Christopherus Homeschool Resources – Developed by a Waldorf educated, Waldorf trained, homeschooling mother of two, who knows what it’s like to juggle being a mom, running a household, and educating one’s children. Highly recommended.

LifeWays North America – A wonderful resource for parents of children birth to age six. Offers a training program for parents and home caregivers, and a wonderful newsletter full of information.

Are you a homeschooler? An Unschooler? Do you use a curriculum? What’s working for you? Share your thoughts, suggestions, and questions here!

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38 Comments

  • Reply Everything Mom and Baby January 20, 2013 at 5:46 pm

    I love Waldorf. I took my son to a Saturday class for parents and kids. I loved the feel of it, the natural education aspect of it and the magic of it. The teachers were lovely. In such a high tech world its nice to come back to nature and a different approach of education.

  • Reply Katie January 20, 2013 at 6:23 pm

    What are your thoughts about Enki? Thanks for opening up this discussion, Sarah!

    • Reply Sarah Baldwin January 20, 2013 at 10:50 pm

      I’m familiar with Enki, Katie. My opinion is that Enki is a quality program. Like Oak Meadow, it’s an eclectic program with a strong Waldorf influence, but with a mix of other methodologies.

      It was created by Beth Sutton who has a master’s degree in education, who also received Waldorf teacher training. It is not purely Waldorf, nor does it pretend to be.

      Enki can be a great fit if it appeals to you and if you don’t consider yourself a Waldorf purist.

  • Reply Amanda McClary January 20, 2013 at 7:11 pm

    Thank you for the wonderful review, Sarah! My children are not quite school aged yet, but I am a childcare provider and do plan to homeschool. I found this to be very helpful.

  • Reply amy w January 20, 2013 at 7:22 pm

    i have a one year old and a three year old. i am very interested in homeschooling. i am looking forward to your video for this age.
    thank you for the resources in this video.

  • Reply Lindsay January 20, 2013 at 7:44 pm

    Sarah,
    What an amazing springboard! Thanks for this information as I’m sure you have saved much weeding out for many. I have a 2 year old daughter whom, at the moment, I’m planning on keeping home at least until 3rd or 4th grade. Any thoughts on what year seems like a reasonable time to discuss whether she’d like to try out-of-home-school?
    Thanks,
    Lindsay

    • Reply Sarah Baldwin January 26, 2013 at 2:03 pm

      Lyndsay, if you want to homeschool, I would encourage you to commit to it and then just observe yourself and your daughter. If you are both happy, if she enjoys learning, and if she is not complaining, why fix what ain’t broke?
      As mothers, we have an instinct about what our children need. If it’s working, I wouldn’t confuse her with choices. If a child’s never been to public school, it will be an abstract concept. Having no experience of it, she won’t really know what “school” will be like.

      If, however, things are not going as you had hoped — if either of you feel frustrated or unhappy homeschooling, if she begins asking to go to school with her friends — you will know that it may be time to begin exploring options.

      My advice is just trust your instincts, take things one day at a time, and not project too far into the future!

  • Reply Susan January 20, 2013 at 9:40 pm

    Hi Sarah, thank you so much for these videos! They offer a healthy dose of inspiration before starting our week.

    This is our third year of homeschooling, and our first year as Waldorf-inspired homeschoolers. In my searches I came across Waldorf Essentials. What I like about their Thinking, Feeling, Willing program is that not only do you receive curriculum that the authors have used with their own children successfully, but you also get personal consultations by phone and “Mom Lessons” with information on Steiner’s work with emphasis on inner work. As I said this is just our first year using it, but so far we love it.

    • Reply Sarah Baldwin January 20, 2013 at 10:43 pm

      I’m glad that you are finding the program helpful, Susan. But be aware that many curriculum resources being marketed as “Waldorf,” may be written by authors with no formal background in Waldorf education, with no teaching experience, and without a real understanding of the methods.

      As I stated in my video, when evaluating the value of a program, check the author’s credentials. If you are looking for a quality educational program, ask yourself:

      • What is the author’s background?
      • Do they have a degree in education?
      • Are they an experienced teacher?
      • How established is the curriculum provider?
      • How long have they been around?

      If they are promoting “Waldorf” methods:

      • Have they completed Waldorf teacher training?
      • Have they taught in a Waldorf school?
      • For how many years?

      Knowing the answers to these questions will help you better assess if this is a quality educational program, and if it’s truly based on Waldorf philosophy and methods.

      Best of luck to you on your homeschooling journey!

  • Reply Lindsey Taber January 20, 2013 at 10:27 pm

    Sarah Sarah Sarah….. You are brilliant. I love watching your videos and this one in particular was so informative to me! This was one of the topics that I had requested you talk about. I am also very interested in the second video you were talking about making for ways to teach children under 6 through life. While it may seem obvious in ways to do it, I am very interested in hearing your ideas and such. I really value your thoughts and look forward to many more videos from you! You make my Sundays a little brighter!
    I can’t wait to start looking into these different curriculums and seeing what I think will work best for us. My daughter is only 19 months but I think the more informed the better when it comes to school time :)

    Thank you so much!!

  • Reply Maggie January 20, 2013 at 11:39 pm

    Hello Sarah,
    So far I have set up my own curriculum and used Christopherus this past year. I have looked over Live Education just recently and it seems VERY intense to me. I really like that they place a strong value on the Old Testament in their third grade package and how all the subjects relate to it, but I am wondering if I’ll bit off more than I can chew if I’ll give this curriculum a try for third grade, especially at the cost of it….
    I like Christopherus but I find myself adjusting quite a bit and for third grade I would like to incorporate some Native American studies but not to that extent as Donna is doing it in her curriculum. I Know this is a tough question, but do you think Live Ed is doable at home without driving myself crazy?

    Thank you for any insights!

  • Reply danja January 21, 2013 at 2:12 am

    hi sarah,

    for first grade math we’re using mathbyhand. it’s a hands-on waldorf math curriculum that is easy to prep, as it comes as a kit and it’s great fun to do!

    danja

    • Reply Sarah Baldwin January 26, 2013 at 2:11 pm

      I hadn’t heard of Math by Hand, Danja. Thanks for sharing! I checked out their website: http://www.mathbyhand.com/wp/about/ and was impressed by the author’s credentials. Marin Lipowitz is a trained and experienced Waldorf teacher with a California public school teaching credential.

      Looks like a great program. Wish it had been around when I was a homeschooler! We used Singapore Math Singapore Math, which isn’t specifically Waldorf, but approaches math in a similar way — from the whole to the parts. My kids enjoyed it more than other math programs we tried, and when they finally went back to school, were ahead of most their classmates in terms of math skills.

  • Reply lucia January 21, 2013 at 7:58 am

    Do you have a review of the Waldorf Essentials program by Melisa Nielsen?

    thank you.

  • Reply Amanda January 21, 2013 at 11:38 am

    Thanks for this post–it made me smile. I’m using Live Education with my daughter for the third year in a row (she’s in 2nd grade). We started with the kindergarten, which was a wonderful guide to rhythm and rhyme and story with no real “schooling.” So really, this is the second year of real Main Lesson prep. It is intense, and although I love it, I do feel like to try to do everything they suggest would be the full-time job of a professional teacher in a separate school, verses a homeschooling mother at home. My younger son will start homeschooling next year, and the thought of doubling my work load makes my heart sink. I’m up late enough as it is with chalk on my hands prepping for the next day’s lessons.

    I have two thoughts about Christopherus vs. Live Ed. Being from southwest Wisconsin, where Christopherus is based, I was familiar with it and started with some of their overviews and publications. I agree with you about Donna’s approach. It’s totally geared toward the home schooler. I love (and use constantly) her “Joyful Movement” book and recommend it to everyone! For someone like me, however, who was a total Waldorf novice, I felt like her guides didn’t give me enough direct instruction. I felt like she was so steeped in WE that she may have taken some things for granted (I didn’t know “math squirrels” from “math gnomes” from anything!). So anyway, I chose the more detailed Live Ed for that reason. Now that I know my way around WE a bit more, I’m leaning back toward Donna’s approach. I may be making a switch for next year.

    The second thought I had, though, was that Live Education comes with free consultations with an experienced Waldorf teacher. My consultant has taught in a home setting for years and has been really helpful in guiding me through setting priorities and being more realistic in terms of the sheer volume of information presented in the LE curriculum.

    Basically I can recommend them both and say that they are both wonderful (and difficult) in different ways.

  • Reply Rita January 21, 2013 at 4:27 pm

    I never knew there were actual Waldorf curriculums for homeschooling. I love the nurturing creative aspects of it. I have been homeschooling for over six years. Any ideas about transitioning ? What about 8th grade and over ?
    Would like to avoid religious curriculums.

  • Reply Taryn Kae Wilson @ Wooly Moss Roots January 23, 2013 at 2:37 pm

    Sarah,
    Thank you for the information! Our little one is two and we plan on homeschooling. We are inspired by what we know of Waldorf so far and also inspired by some books by John Holt.
    I feel drawn towards the Christopherus Homeschool Resources that you mentioned.

    Love,
    Taryn

  • Reply Heather January 24, 2013 at 11:19 am

    Dear Sarah,
    Thank you for these informational videos. I am new to the journey of Waldorf and Homeschooling. I have a 3 and 5 year old.

    I have over 20 years of experience as an educator with both the public schools and montessori programs. However,after the birth of my second child something drew me into Waldorf and I am so grateful.

    We have no Waldorf style programs here in Key West, FL. However, I am reading whatever I can and was finally able to visit a beautiful homeschool preschool in Sedona, Arizona while visiting my sister.

    I am now staying at home with my children while partnering with my husband to run our small restaurant. Our lives are busy, but we are both very committed to homeschooling our children.

    I bought the Oak Meadow syllubus for Kindergarten but I was disappointed as I attempted it, it didn’t resonate enough with me to commit to it. I thought maybe Waldorf was not the direction I wanted to go. When I heard your video it sorta gave me permission to look elsewhere and shelf that curriculm. I am frustrated however, most programs don’t allow you to preview items before purchase.

    For us, I feel the Waldorf program (based on a brief visit to a preschool and various readings) really captures what I feel like education has been missing. It sorta gives me permission to stop and really focus on the spirit within. PHEW! Thank goodness for Waldorf and also for the awareness I continue to gain. Please continue to post these informational videos and any readings you recommend.

    It is impossible for me to leave my children and our business to travel to be “waldorf trained” so my trainings are all self lead. I think our community would gravitate towards a program like this, but right now I need to focus on my children and our family and our business. Do you know of any books/websites on self lead Waldorf teacher training?
    Namaste
    Heather

    • Reply Sarah Baldwin January 26, 2013 at 2:14 pm

      Heather, if you click on the “Bookstore” link at the top of this page, you will find my personal book recommendations related to Waldorf education. Read as many of them as you can, and you will be well on your way to a deeper understanding of Waldorf methods and philosophy!

  • Reply CharityHawkins January 24, 2013 at 9:53 pm

    This is our fourth/fifth year homeschooling and I have ages 8, 6 and 3. I have listened to the CDs from Waldorf in the Home and loved them. I’ll include the link to one here, one about gardening with young children, but you can search for all CDs and pick the ones that look interesting to you. Very helpful and informative. I have enjoyed some of the Lifeways CDs, especially Homemaking 101, but it looks like their site is undergoing maintenance right now. We are trying to incorporate more Waldorf elements a bit at a time as I can manage it! :) Here’s the link to the CD http://www.storewaldorfinthehome.org/product_p/vaw12.htm

    • Reply Sarah Baldwin January 26, 2013 at 1:54 pm

      Waldorf in the Home is another great resource, Charity. So glad you mentioned it! It is the website of Rahima Baldwin Dancy, who is no relation, but we are fellow board members of LifeWays North America. Rahima is also the author of the book You Are Your Child’s First Teacher, which has recently been re-published as an updated edition. This book was my introduction to Waldorf education, and I can’t recommend it highly enough. Coming soon to Bella Luna Toys!

  • Reply Stacy Barnes February 2, 2013 at 2:09 pm

    Thank you for the information on homeschool curriculum. We have a few books from Christopherus and like them very much. I like how the detail included in it.

    Also, my daughter and I watched this and really like your glasses. Would you care to tell us who makes the frames or where you found them? Thank you!!

  • Reply Emily February 5, 2013 at 8:59 pm

    Sarah, what would be a good resource for an established homeschooler to learn more about the Waldorf philosophy? You mention that some established ‘waldorf flavored’ curriculum deviate from classic pacing and approach. What would be the best place to begin familiarizing myself with what a ‘purist approach’ would look like? Your passion is inspiring, thank you for sharing it with us.

  • Reply Maggie February 6, 2013 at 9:43 am

    Hello Emily,

    May I suggest to start with reading a book called: “Waldorf Education – A Family Guide” by Pamela J.Fenner.
    This book does not explain in every detail what this education style is about but it does lay out what Waldorf education teaches in each grade and why. It also covers the importance of rhythm, festivals and some developmental stages that children go through, it has very good information to start out with.

    After that your best option would be to read some of the simpler texts by Rudolf Steiner himself like : “The Education of the Child” and “Practical Advice to teachers” both are found for free online and can be downloaded. Check out the Rudolf Steiner Library as well, lots and lots of stuff to read there.
    Another good resource that stays very true to Steiner’s philosophy is Carrie’s blog http://theparentingpassageway.com/, as well as Donna Simmons, she has quite a few articles on her web site.

    If you need more info., there are lots of links from there on.
    Hope this helps!
    Maggie

    • Reply Sarah Baldwin March 2, 2013 at 4:40 pm

      Maggie, thank you for beating me to it and recommending “Waldorf Education: A Family Guide” to Emily. Exactly what I would have recommended!

      We now have this wonderful book in stock at Bella Luna Toys. Just need to get it listed on the website along with all of our other new products.

      Anyone interested in this great overview of Waldorf education can give us a call at 888-438-1299.

  • Reply Jaime February 10, 2013 at 12:16 pm

    Sarah-
    I can’t thank you enough for your spirit, passion for and dedication to children- I LOVE your videos and this was so helpful. Any thoughts on Waldorf Essentials/A Little Garden Flower? I recently purchased an Oak Meadow Kindergarten curriculum for my 6yo and I agree with previous posts- it just isn’t resonating for us right now. So we’re now looking towards Christopherus and Live as possibilities for first grade, but have also heard good things about Waldorf Essentials. Would love your thoughts to add to the mix.

    • Reply Sarah Baldwin March 2, 2013 at 4:42 pm

      Jaime, I’m not personally familiar with Waldorf Essentials, but I’m hearing from many readers/viewers that they love it.

      Again, whatever lights your fire and inspires your homeschooling is the right curriculum for you!

  • Reply Holly February 28, 2013 at 4:42 pm

    just starting out homeschooling with my preK daughter in England. Looked at Waldorf a little bit and have seen some things that I like. particularly the stories, rhymes and verses aspect of teaching a subject. I am finding it quite tricky to find curriculums to use in the UK and books with these stories and verses that are so often referred to in Waldorf education advice.

    • Reply Annabelle April 21, 2014 at 7:08 pm

      Hi Holly

      Just wondered how your home educating is going now? I’d love to know. I want to start home educating my 3 yr old with a Waldorf influence and am looking around for the best curriculum to follow. Everything seems to be US based and shipping is expensive!

  • Reply danja March 2, 2013 at 2:00 am

    hi holly,
    http://www.florisbooks.co.uk. and http://www.wynstonespress.com. are uk-based. also, i found many books i was looking for on amazon.uk or bookdepository.uk.
    as for a preK curriculum do look at http://www.christopherushomeschool.com. the shipping rates are quite good now.
    warmly,
    dani (switzerland)

  • Reply Cheryl May 7, 2013 at 1:19 pm

    Dear Sarah,
    I was going toward enrolling in Oak Meadow’s virtual school, so I appreciated hearing your point of view!
    The closest Waldorf School is a 45 minute commute, and we’ve commuted for early childhood part-time, but full-time feels like too much(distance wise), so I’m considering homeschooling our 6 yr. old daughter.

    Anyway, thank you. This helped me so much – your experiences and the questions you offered for viewers. I love Waldorf and the underlying philosophies of Steiner, so I don’t want a “watered down” version.
    I don’t know where else I would have found this kind of information. I’m sharing it with others who are asking similar questions.
    in gratitude,
    ~Cheryl in Kansas City, MO

  • Reply Mama Songbird May 26, 2013 at 8:52 pm

    Hi Sarah,

    I would just like to chime in on this topic, after having just finished my first year in a Waldorf Teacher Training for Early Childhood, while simultaneously finishing my first year in Waldorf Essentials’ Feeling, Thinking, Willing program. I also have been a private music instructor for the past 12 years and was a licensed Kindermusik educator. This year I participated in both the Thinking, Feeling, Willing and formal Teacher Training programs because, while it is my dream to be a Waldorf Early Childhood Teacher, I am still not certain what I will choose for my own children – will I stay home with them and homeschool, or send them to a Waldorf School? I still have some time to decide, and therefore enrolled in both programs.

    I can say after a year in both programs that, although Melisa Nielsen, the founder of Waldorf Essentials, may not be a certified teacher or have completed a formal Waldorf teacher training, she is very much a student of Rudolf Steiner. She has spent years of her life studying the works of Steiner and reading his lectures, practicing inner work, and homeschooling her own 5 children. I am amazed by how closely her program echoes what I learn in my teacher training, and in how much greater depth she sometimes goes. It is an amazingly supportive program, especially where inner work is concerned, and she also offers video tutorials for handwork, an in-depth discussion of the curriculum, planning, etc. I highly regard her work, and I think that it should be given consideration by anyone considering homeschooling their children in the Waldorf method.

    Additionally, I find her program to be much more reasonably priced than some of the other Waldorf homeschool curricula created by trained Waldorf teachers. There are very many parents who want a Waldorf education for their children, yet do not have the financial resources to afford the education. Yet some of the homeschool curriculums are prohibitively expensive, especially for parents of multiple children, teaching multiple grades simultaneously. Melisa takes this into consideration and has priced her curricula accordingly. I really do recommend the program!

  • Reply coaching parental July 23, 2013 at 12:11 pm

    homeschooling is definitely the way to go, even here in France. Montessori also offers a very good way for this and youtube offers thousands videos about it ..

  • Reply Aditty S April 18, 2014 at 5:56 pm

    I am new to homeschool and this was our first year but I must say I felt like I didn’t quite enjoy it. The regiment of workbooks and stuff make it hard to enjoy life and each other in the process. Now I know Waldorf is more laid back and I love that. But I have to say I have zero imagination bone in my body and it seems you sorta need that for waldorf. In viewing all the resources I was intrigued by OakMeadow because it seemed everything was laid out and explained. Yet with it not being true waldorf between the 2 other choices you put which do you suggest would be a better fit for me? Also is math and grammar included??? And if there was a possibility that pure waldorf wasn’t a fit for us is there a book or resources that would help me to learn to incorporate Waldorf into my more traditional homeschool?

    • Reply Sarah Baldwin April 22, 2014 at 8:59 pm

      Hi Aditty,

      If you want everything laid out for you, you might really enjoy Oak Meadow. I know a lot of homeschoolers who do. It’s been around a long time and is a solid curriculum. As a homeschooler, you have the luxury to pick and choose from the wide variety of curricula that exists, and find what works for you and your family. Math and grammar are included in all the resources I recommended. I happened to like Singapore Math, which is not Waldorf, but worked for my kids. Even though the books had cartoon-y illustrations, I found that the way math was introduced and presented, was very much in keeping with Waldorf philosophy. Another great resource for Waldorf homeschoolers that I failed to mention in my video is Eugene Schwartz’s Millennial Child.

      Eugene Schwartz was the director of teacher training while I was at Sunbridge College, and is a leading authority on Waldorf education. He has turned his efforts in recent years to creating materials for homeschoolers.

      Explore all your options, trust your instincts, and choose what feels right to YOU.

  • Reply Iria May 25, 2014 at 10:08 am

    Hello Sarah and others,

    I have homeschooled with Christopherus for two years now. I got a bit confused and felt lost last year when we started 6th grade. We did fine with History and Geometry, but I wished there was a bit more parent guidance from Christopherus where physics and arithmetic is concerned. I spend so much money finding other resources! This year, I have so far purchased both 3rd grade and 7th grade Waldorf Essentials, but have also talked to Live Education’s Rainbow Rosenbloom. Has anyone any input? I currently homeschool 3 out of my 5 kids. Does anyone else have experience with Live Ed? I know Sarah, you loved Christopherus. I have also looked into Oak Meadow, but right now that is at the bottom of my list. I would appreciate any input, though I know I will have to go what my heart tells me. Thank you!

  • Reply Aditty June 20, 2014 at 4:05 am

    I have been going back and forth on Waldorf’s way of living and I guess Im wondering if there is a way you can sorta incorporate Waldorf aspect to your homeschooling plan. If so how would you do that(which subjects would you incorporate it to, etc…) Also how did you do the switch from normal everyday common life to a more Waldorf style and how did you help your kids transition? We are a very technology/city living type of family. I cant sew, bake, garden etc.. to save my life. We have never been camping or to a lake etc… My kid doesnt really like the outdoors and prefers to play with her many toys or electronics. The tv is always on in our house, etc.. I know our life is very much chaotic and even though my kid is 6 I do hope it isnt too late to change our life so she can benefit for a more easier, simpler, more present life. So can you do a post or give me a list of books that might enlighten me since Waldorf is all so very much overwhelming or maybe just explain how it all started with you and how you began your changes. Thanks in advance

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