Planning: The Nitty-Gritty for Older Students

I remember hearing a critical comment float through our local Waldorf community last year. It was said that a real Waldorf school experience could not be duplicated at home. A caveat was always added that perhaps one or two moms could actually pull it off, but in general it was impossible as homeschoolers. I’ll admit to being a little irked. My homeschooling mom friends and I worked really hard to bring Waldorf education to our children as authentically as we could.

A year later, I look back on that experience and chuckle. I chose to home school! I didn’t choose to Waldorf school. I will never have twenty students in my classroom for singing and ring games, and they won’t get eurythmy, but I am completely happy doing the best I can to meet my children developmentally and do all the Waldorf-y things I can with regard to curriculum, art, etc.

With that in mind, I wanted to talk about planning the nitty-gritty things that pop up when children get older and need more instruction, and more practice, and more individualization, than they can get from a mom with multiple children and multiple main lessons. What I’m finding as I plan for my seventh grader are some of the following things:

  • Older students will do more independent reading of main lesson materials. Let’s face it, it gets harder and harder to present the main lesson materials each year in a thorough lecture format. It’s nice to be able to say, “Read this,” and then discuss it and do art work or main lesson book work together.
  • Older students need daily practice for some topics – especially math; often writing, grammar or spelling – and lots of Waldorf homeschooling moms use NON-WALDORF materials to accomplish that! I’ve heard of Waldorf homeschoolers who use Saxon math, Singapore math, Rod & Staff English, Brave Writer, Rosetta Stone, etc. Remember, we don’t have all the extra teachers that a Waldorf school has, and we are often teaching multiple grades, so it is necessary to make decisions about what we need support for to cover effectively!
  • Older students can help out with younger students. I saw a post on Waldorf Essentials today in which Melisa mentioned that her eighth grader will be teaching the flute to her second grader. Terrific! This coming year, I have plans for my older students to take turns playing/drawing/prepping lunch with my three-year-old while I do main lessons. I need their help. They need to help to make our home school run smoothly.
  • Older students often begin taking more classes outside the home, so try to align your outside activities so they coincide with one another. I try to do this as much as possible, and it reduces time spent in the car and allows me to be at home more. When I am home, I make better meals and the house stays much more tidy.
  • Older students are still children. They are still learning how to behave. I am trying to keep this in mind as I navigate the hormones and the new behavior challenges.

One more thing I’d like to mention is that many Waldorf moms use non-traditional Waldorf resources for their home school and Waldorf-ify them. The book I’m planning to use for Teal’s Joan of Arc block is a book I found on a Charlotte Mason list. I love looking at the Charlotte Mason books to see which ones go along with our main lessons. You can find Charlotte Mason book lists at or please look at this fabulous collection on

Thanks for visiting today! Please share any resource you can’t live without in the comments!


10 thoughts on “Planning: The Nitty-Gritty for Older Students

  1. lakenormanprep

    Terrific list. We are not true Waldorfers and never claimed to be but I do love the ideas. Waldorf Essentials brought amazing art into our lives! I do use an outside spelling, grammar and math. We do block scheduling and try to make things Waldorfy. I am using a Charlotte Mason based book this year as well! My son is doing business math. Along with the history of business, I plan on him working through a math book that I found on Simply Charlotte Mason that has the kids running a business on paper. I love homeschooling for these reasons too!

    1. Mrs. Mallard Post author

      Thank you for your comment lakenormanprep! I love the photo on your blog of everyone doing yoga (I presume?) from hanging bands. Is that at a studio or in your home?

      1. lakenormanprep

        Thanks. The picture is from a yoga studio near us; however, we do have silks in our backyard as well. They love them! One of the least expensive gifts we have given them that is used the most.

  2. Sheila / Sure as the World

    YAY!! I love your “rally the troops” tone here. We need to support each other and embrace the fact that we are choosing to bring this form of education at home. WOOHOO!!

    I want to check out your Charlotte Mason links above, and wanted to give you one I found yesterday

    I took a middle school class and a high school class at Taproot last weekend. They echoed everything you said.

    And the hormones – oh my stars – the hormones.

    Here’s to a great year, my friend!! We start tomorrow (!) – I’ll be ironing some nitty gritty details today for sure.

    1. Mrs. Mallard Post author

      Sheila, I’m a little jealous of the southern moms that are starting school tomorrow! I hope the day goes the way you envision it – or as close as can be. 🙂

      I can’t wait to read your take-aways from Taproot this year, and thank you for the book link!


  3. licoricelovinglady

    I think it’s true: school and homeschool are different. Our son went to 2 Waldorf schools and we pulled him out of both, for different reasons, and it was quite a shock at the time that even a Waldorf school was not going to meet our needs. Yet I still wanted to bring the Waldorf curriculum to him, I still loved the curriculum.
    So……we home educate and I try my best.
    I have to find a way to live with the fact that what we do at home will never be the same as the perfect Waldorf school, and sometimes I feel sad about that. But then I remember our real life experience and I remember that the perfect Waldorf school doesn’t exist either. We are all striving.
    There are really great things about home education that a Waldorf school couldn’t possibly replicate. I genuinely believe that, if he were alive today, Steiner would be our greatest advocate. I try to remember that.
    In the beginning, I felt that home education was forced upon me but now it’s a choice we make. Every day, we choose homeschooling. And I’m glad. I wouldn’t want it any other way.

  4. Alison Manzer

    Mrs. Mallard,
    I was one of the the Middle School and High School presenters at Taproot this year, and I was so happy to discover the synergy in our approaches to older students and the frank talk about Waldorf at home. I found myself saying “Yes, yes and exactly” out loud as I read this at my computer. It is possible and it can be a beautiful education with beautiful books and writing and art as its foundation. Thank you and I look forward to reading more of your posts now that I found my way to your page!
    Alison Manzer

    1. Mrs. Mallard Post author

      Alison, Thanks so much for taking the time to visit and comment! I am familiar with your name by way of Sheila and Jean’s blogs. I feel honored to share some similar insights into the older grades with you! Best, Rachel

  5. Melissa Jenkins

    Thank you for this article. I just started learning about Waldorf yesterday so you can imagine I am overwhelmed. My children are 10 and 12. We did Charlotte Mason a few years ago but when my father died it hit us really hard and we moved to unschooling. It was ironic that you mentioned Ambleside and Charlotte Mason books. I have always been drawn to ‘living books’ and some of the Charlotte Mason ideals, so I’m happy to see that some of the reading suggestions from it can fit in with Waldorf methods. 🙂


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