The Real Curriculum in a Waldorf Homeschool

It has been amazing to see the growing interest in Waldorf or Steiner homeschooling on Facebook over the past year. Parents are out there in droves wondering how to get started, how to implement the philosophies, and which is the best curriculum to use. There are truly so many wonderful resources that it is hard to pick with which ones to spend our time! I started with Waldorf a little over four years ago. I remember the excitement I felt in finding an educational philosophy that honored children as children. I wanted all the information right then, but, as with any skill, you learn and grow and arrive bit by bit. It is with that thought that I offer the following curriculum suggestion, a suggestion that I believe to be at the very root of your home school:

YOU ARE THE CURRICULUM in your Waldorf Homeschool!

And not just Waldorf homeschools, but in any type of homeschooling, or public schooling family; YOU ARE THE CURRICULUM!

Those that have studied early childhood know that children learn by imitation. This is stressed in every single Waldorf early childhood book I have read. Your young child learns by watching you! And not just watching by you, they “feel” you. They pick up on your moods, your stress, and your joy. Then, after they watch and feel you, they begin to play it all out. I’m sure you’ve overheard your child practicing something you’ve said in a tone you’ve used! This is how they learn.

Well, guess what, that doesn’t end when they start in the grades. Your sixth grader is still learning by watching you! Don’t believe me? Just wait until the morning you are in your ratty pajamas, with your make-up smeared on your face because you didn’t wash it the night before, your hair unbrushed and you decide to get mad at your sixth grader because they didn’t hop up and get completely ready for homeschool to begin.  You just might hear something muttered under their breath along the lines of “Yeah, like you got ready for school today…” You see, although your child is growing and may be entering the phase of rational thought and truth, they still learn by watching you!

If the truth that YOU ARE THE CURRICULUM feels unsettling, I want to offer this quote found in  Beyond the Rainbow Bridge:

The growing and developing in the child listens to the growing and developing in the teacher. Therefore, just as much as the teacher works on himself, so much can he work on his pupils and so he can teach them. Education and self-education are one and the same. This knowledge takes away the sense of inadequacy. The question is not how far I have come and how much I can accomplish, but rather that I must constantly struggle. I can give to the children to the same degree that I work on myself.

Your sense of inadequacy vanishes when you realize that you teach according to your own struggle and developing, NOT according to how far you’ve come and how much you’ve accomplished!

So, allow yourself a deep breath. It really doesn’t matter which Waldorf curriculum you choose (if any!), there is good and bad in every curriculum. It really doesn’t matter how much knowledge or materials you have when you begin. What matters is how YOU are struggling, growing and developing. So just get busy doing with your children because  YOU ARE THE CURRICULUM!

8 thoughts on “The Real Curriculum in a Waldorf Homeschool

  1. Sheila / Sure as the World

    AMEN, Mrs. Mallard!!!
    This is so true. We are the curriculum. It is a living, breathing, evolving spiral of a journey. Once we can claim this, I do believe the inadequacy vanishes. There is no standard to live up to, no prize to achieve. We must live it every day – even the days we don’t get our hair brushed (lol).
    Love this beyond words.

    PS. I finally fixed my WordPress settings. I used to get your posts via email, but they stopped apparently and were just going into my WP Reader (something I never even look at). I feel like I have some catch up to do with your blog, but I’m so glad I didn’t miss this one. Love to you!!

  2. Mrs. Mallard Post author

    Thank you so much for your comment Sheila! I think when we are starting out, we just want to be able to do it right. I certainly felt that way! And, yes, there are topics that are taught in each grade that correspond to the developing child, but there is no “right” way or “right” book or curriculum to teach these topics. There are customary approaches that have become common or standard (like math gnomes or watercolor painting the seven days of creation,) but truly the way we teach should be born of our observations of the child and our personal progress. As I understand it, the Waldorf curriculum should be taught by the teacher as they observe the child and try to meet their needs.

    I’m sorry that you haven’t been receiving emails! They still come to an account I used to check whether they are coming or not, so I’ll try to figure out what’s going on. Thanks for letting me know!

    Have a terrific weekend!

  3. Brenna

    How true this is!
    It is both the most scary and the most freeing aspect of Waldorf homeschooling that who we are is what we are teaching! I hold to the knowledge that my striving, hoping and learning has a larger effect than my inadequacies.
    Well spoken, friend.

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  6. Jean

    Love this! YOU ARE THE CURRICULUM. Even our teenagers and twenty-somethings are watching us! It is our striving that teaches them more than anything. Both freeing and terrifying, as Brenna mentioned. But really, isn’t this what being human is all about? We just have to allow ourselves to be vulnerable enough to be a growing human being in front of our children!

    Thank you for this, and thanks to Sheila for linking to your post (I too used to get your emails and they stopped but I’m signed up again now, so let’s hope they come to my email once again.)

    1. Mrs. Mallard Post author

      Dear Jean, Thank you so much for stopping by and for taking the time to comment! I enjoy your blog so much, the Steiner Cafe series is one of my favorites. Have a great day!


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