An Oxymoron or To-Do Lists in my Waldorf-Inspired Home School

Cute but unrelated picture by Wigeon.

Cute but unrelated picture by Wigeon.

We started our school year at the end of August with a robust rhythm. Our daily doings were crafted around the main anchors of the day (rising, meals and bedtime) and I had come up with what seemed a beautiful, but very full, unfolding of activities throughout the day. After a few weeks, I noticed that the rhythm I had crafted felt burdensome. There was often down time between main lessons and household activities when I just wished the kids knew what to work on next without my direction. Another problem was that there wasn’t enough time during the two big kids’ main lessons to accomplish everything relating to the main lesson. There also wasn’t enough time during their main lessons to work together on math or grammar (I have been using a non-Waldorf grammar program starting in fourth grade-ish) that needed to be redone because of errors.

After a few more weeks of struggling to stick to our rhythm, I came up with a solution. I woke up one morning and created a little spreadsheet for each child which I filled with work that I wanted them to accomplish that day. This ‘to-do’ list became a way for me to break out some of the tasks that I wanted them to accomplish in regard to the main lesson, but with which I didn’t want to take our daily main lesson time. It also gave them a list of things that they could be working on when I needed to change laundry or do something related to maintaining the household or spending time with my three-year-old.

Here is an examples of a to-do list:

Seventh Grade

  • Read: Shabanu 30 minutes
  • Math: Finish Measurement Sheet #5 (from Jamie York’s Making Math Meaningful)
  • Grammar: Lesson #40
  • Poetry: Copy “When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer” in to Poetry MLB
  • Edit and Copy  ocean currents write-up into MLB
  • Main Lesson: Astronomy with mom (During this time, I present new material do any creative activity associated with it, painting, sculpting, etc.)
  • Fold and put away laundry

Often I’ll put things on like “Paint with mom” or “Review measurement sheet 2 with mom” or “Present poem to mom” when I want to make sure that they do the work WITH me. I’ve told them that whenever it says that are to work with me, it will be when I call them!

This has been working really well for us! Our daily rhythm is still intact, but there is more flexibility for me! What does our day look like now?

  • Rise & Dress, Do Morning Chores
  • Breakfast & Dishes
  • Scripture Reading and Journaling
  • Both kids usually choose to read independently first thing, which gives me time to create their daily lists.
  • Big kids begin working on tasks in any order they choose, while I sing and tell a story to my three-year-old.
  • I do main lesson with first child and work on anything else that requires mom. The second child is working on their tasks.
  • Lunch & Walk
  • I do main lesson with second child, while first child finishes their tasks.
  • Teatime and Tidy
  • Play time and/or outside activities
  • Dinner
  • Freetime
  • Bedtime

When I look at it, our rhythm is pretty much intact, only the details of how it gets done have changed. We also seem to be ending thirty minutes sooner than we used to, which is a bonus for everyone! When you think Waldorf, you don’t generally think to-do lists, but it has really helped in maintaining a healthy feeling in our home.

What are your tricks for getting everything done during the day?


4 thoughts on “An Oxymoron or To-Do Lists in my Waldorf-Inspired Home School

  1. motheringwithmindfulness

    I have to admit, I love “to do” lists. They keep me sane 🙂 I write one every morning. I love your rhythm and your means of keeping it intact. I think we all have to do what works for us, and our families. And freeing up 30 minutes at the end of the day, nice!

    My trick…free play time 🙂 We are not into main lessons and such, yet, so when little man and his friend are deep in play, I squeeze in those things that a mama needs to do to keep a household running.

    1. Mrs. Mallard Post author

      Thanks for your reply Kim! I like to-do lists, too, which is probably why it seemed like an answer to my dilemma.
      I’m grateful that, like Reece, my three-year-old plays independently a lot during the day. She just weaves in and out of what we do.

  2. Tanya

    If you think about it, most of the items on your to-do list would have been assigned as homework if your child is in school. So while you may not think it exactly fits the “waldorf” model, I think it does! The benefit is it frees up the late afternoons/evenings. The to-do list is a good thing! I also think it is very appropriate starting in 6th grade to give a weekly list so as to help them learn time management. These are also skills they teach in a Waldorf school so why not bring that lesson to the home as well.

    1. Mrs. Mallard Post author

      Tanya, Thank you so much for taking the time to offer your insights! I suppose I was stuck in the early years mode, thinking that everything was carried by rhythm, not lists. I am glad you shared your opinion on why it is a good thing.


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