or Connect
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Childhood and Beyond › Education › Learning at Home and Beyond › Academically rigorous Waldorf curriculum?
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Academically rigorous Waldorf curriculum?

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 

My middle child is coming out of Waldorf kindergarten this time next year when she will be 7. Her older brother is already homeschooled and that has always been the expectation for her.


She is quite different to the other kids in the family. Whereas her sister and brother are both mechanical, logical, practical etc she is just very dreamy, very leftfield, very into people. This can be a mixed blessing, she is the child who goes upstairs to get dressed and ends up distracted by a mark on the wall which causes her to make up a song...then a game...However, she is also actually very quick, was an early talker, very physically capable etc-she'd do well in school. I really do NOT believe in astrology but...she is your utterly typical Cancerean. She has pretty much taught herself to read, from the bits of maths she's done when I'm teaching her brother, she's certainly at least average in maths for her grade and she has a good deep understanding which is more important to me...loves science etc (and due to her brother being homeschooled and coming from a science loving family, has a good understanding of it).


I've looked at Christopherus and I think it would be just too slow for her. She doesn't need the concept of numbers introduced graduallyand holistically-I understand what they are trying to do there but she has it, as far as I can see. She might enjoy it maths through stories, but she'd probably prefer I read her a book with a better story to it.


Does anyone else have a child who would suit the Waldorf approach, but thought they would quickly become bored with its slow pace? The other option might be skipping her ahead a grade or two (especially bearing in mind that we do a lot of the waldorf periperals. She plays several instruments, can knit, sew and crochet, has been around a Waldorf kindergarten all her life, being a second sibling) ...


I will not be homeschooling her in the very focussed, get-in-and-out fast I've used on her brother, who has always wanted clarity and no time wasting ;-).


Anyone have any thoughts? Are there any options that would allow us to use, say, Miquon or Singapore for maths, Minimus for Latin, then add on some Waldorf stuff?

post #2 of 15

I'm in a similar situation with my daughter -- she's not even 5yo yet so we're a ways off from figuring out how we're going to best approach it.  But, she's very imaginative and creative and 'dreamy' and self-sufficient, while also being very 'smart'.  My plan had been to unschool her until she was 7, at least, but she started asking for workbooks when she was 2!  She can now read basic stuff, and is very keen right now to learn more complex reading... and she does formal math lessons, we're almost finished RightStart level A.  She LOVES math.  


She also loves it when we do waldorf-y stuff like circle time with candles and songs and stories, loves painting and handicrafts, all that wonderful stuff.  


When I look at curriculum like Christopherus or earth schooling, I have the same thought as you... Most of it is wonderful, but she does not need a whole story and set of drawings around recognizing the letter G!  And that was in a grade 1 program, which she 'shouldn't' be doing for 2 more years.  She'll probably be writing 5-paragraph essays by then, at this rate...


I've considered doing a grade 1 program for her this year, but there were other aspects of it that are more suitable for a 7yo, even a bright 5yo isn't ready for *everything*.


We're probably going to end up piecemeal-ing things rather than using a whole program.  I do have the Christopherus curriculum guide, which I bought a couple of years ago.  I can use many of the ideas for structuring the day in terms of rhythms, blocks, etc.  I might get some materials (theirs or someone else's) on handicrafts ideas... I have a Waldorf knitting for children book, books on watercolour painting, some form drawing books, etc.  We already do lots of music.  And we'll keep using our math curriculum.


So... eclectic waldorf-influenced, but not pure.  It's hard to do ANYTHING 'pure' when a child is asynchronously gifted.  ;)  We're also likely to drift more Charlotte Mason-y as she gets older and is ready to write more.  

post #3 of 15

Hahaaa.... Reading this and another thread talking about Waldorf curricula, I couldn't help but go look at Christopherus again.  I looked at the grade 1 syllabus samples... drawing mountain M's with D doors, and counting nuts with mr squirrel and writing 1+2=3.  


All that is WAY below her.  But I read her the little bits of stories on the sample pages and she was RAPT.  I asked her about drawing that easy stuff, would she be bored, would she want something more challenging, or would she enjoy doing that really easy stuff?  She said "oh, I think that would be very much fun!"


We can always keep doing her reading and math outside of 'waldorf time' heh.  But maybe this would be a good fit for her after all...

post #4 of 15
Thread Starter 

thanks for your reply. its hard isn't it, if you want a waldorf approach but don't think the curriculum will suit. From a waldorf pov kids such as ours are a bit problematic and have to go through the process of the curriculum in order to undo the terrible damage caused by reading before age 8 (I do have a kid who didn't read til 7 btw)


one thing I do know about first grade waldorf school and I think by extension christopherus is that they are very geared to accustoming a child gently to sitting and working. Not sure what i think about this-some kids want to work, and if I had a kid who SERIOUSLY didn't want to work (as opposed to, well I'd ideally rather do lego now)  I'd be trying another approach anyway.


i have also noticed that i have spelt rigorous wrong in the title and that will bug me every time i look at the thread, aargh.

post #5 of 15
Filly, can whatever you buy be saved? Well, but, I might maybe worry that the stories would uncover to much of the world and that is worth saving sometimes. Boredom is a draw back but I honestly would let the dreaming go on (my little crab is Such a dreamer and that story about the mark is so fitting!!!) if you could buy something which would be used with your last child it makes okay sense to try the age now and try some freebie extra work that you are sure is suited to her imagination level. I am by no means into Waldorf as much as you have been lucky, but it sounds like your family is grounded and it feels unstable to bring in a whole other mindset. I would maybe even try to make just a few sewing projects all her own and let that be the time when she sets the bored work down, but at least you gave her a completed purpose school expectation that you and everyone else can meet.. It just seems like much more flow for everyone to have. BUT (cause I am poor and happy) you might want to have this booklet a back up plan and all that.. I do feel that if you feel any strong "this is so not good for her passion" you totally should change mindsets.. Probably saying that because I feel like I am a Waldorf type mom in an unschooling family married to a classical homeschooling hubby (with some Montessori) and my son just might be wanting to write a musical about belly headbands (mine on his belly and all over head) shooting electricity out at the scary trolls... We are still not sure what to do, but those are my thoughts!

PS I learned a lot about this post!
Edited by greenacresmama - 9/18/11 at 6:44pm
post #6 of 15
whopps double post!
Edited by greenacresmama - 9/18/11 at 6:44pm
post #7 of 15

I have a gifted 5.75 year-old and we're Waldorf-inspired.  I think one thing that has been tremendously helpful to me is that I came to Waldorf FROM Unschooling.  I definitely still believe in Unschooling but I think in our modern-day world it wouldn't work as well for us (most work is not as hands-on as in the past, for example), so that led us to the hands-on, artistic approach of Waldorf.  With that said, though, I have a fundamental belief in unschooling.  Dd has self-taught herself to read, understands fractions, does mental math, etc., but at the same time she LOVES crafting, making poetry, making her own songs, etc.  We are actually planning on doing a Waldorf-style Grade 1 not because I want it to challenge her but because I want it to nourish her.  As airy-fairy as that sounds, I think it's true.  For grade 1, I don't really care about a curriculum "challenging" her--there are years ahead for that.  For challenges, we look to advancing our crafting and musical skills, but not in academics--if she wants to move faster she will find a way on her own.  We haven't been through grade 1 yet but I have thought long and hard about it, and I think the fairy tales, the immersion into the alphabet (yes, she's wayyyy  beyond just learning the alphabet, but there is so much more here--poetry, alliteration, fairy tale, drawing skills), an appreciation of what "three-ness" is ... all of that will last beyond 1st grade.  It's more like savoring a meal, do you know what I mean?  Sure, academically she could be moving a lot faster but I honestly don't think we would enjoy the ride as much, and I think experience is ultimately what I'm going for.  


I don't see why you can't do your own things in addition or in replacement of a Waldorf curriculum, though.  That's what I'm planning on doing.  Some, like Oak Meadow, allow you to purchase bits separately so you don't have to buy the full curriculum.  For us, I'm looking at OM fairy tales, recorder, and Word families, combined with Form Drawing and Modeling from Christopherus, painting stories/archetypes of numbers (this is not in OM grade1)/and some letter tales from Eartshschooling, Noble Knights of Knowledge and Miquon, and various nature tales (like Thornton Burgess or the Among the Meadow People sort of books).  My plan is to combine bits and pieces of all of the above to construct a 1st grade that will really speak to us.  I don't really have a set plan for us as to where we stop in something like math, but rather I have in mind the things I definitely want to cover and once we get there if we want to go on, fine, or we can just review for a while and let it rest until grade 2.  I'm also not planning on doing multiple week lesson blocks ala Waldorf, but rather doing one main subject each day, with several repeats during the week for grade 1 (E.g., Monday-Fairy Tales, Tuesday, Math, Wednesday, Nature Tales, Thursday, Math, Friday, Fairy Tales).  Since your daughter can already do a lot of handwork, perhaps her challenge area could be less academically than artistically.  Perhaps stretching her in this way?  That's what I'm hoping for in my dd to prevent boredom.  You can add weaving, spinning, more elaborate sewing/knitting/crocheting, beadwork, jewelry making, etc.  Whatever interests her.


Just some thoughts from another Waldorf mom of a wonderful and gifted kiddo ...  Blessings!

post #8 of 15

I love that way of looking at it -- nourishing rather than challenging, and if she *needs* more challenge she'll pretty much demand it and we'll find a way to meet it, but she might not *need* it.  It's kind of what I've been dancing around in my head, but hadn't been able to fully form the thought yet.  In our case, we would definitely continue with the formal math -- she'd have a fit if we didn't lol!!!


You mention Noble Knights of Knowledge -- where oh where did you find a set?  I've lusted over this program for several years but they just don't make 'em anymore (and used is terribly rare to find)

post #9 of 15

I love what Lux has to say about this.  I think pretty much any kid at age 7 could rush through the alphabet in a week tops, right?  But do we want them to?  In my opinion, my child, who is doing Christopherus Grade One right now and who has known all his letters for a few years, is being nourished, filled, enlightened by the Waldorf approach.  The stories with the letters aren't there so much as to teach the letters (although that, too).  They imbue those letters with life!  "M' doesn't just say 'mmm', it means something; mother, mountain, mouse, mmmmm good!  It's bringing the art of language to your child rather than just the blind mechanics of it.  As an adult, I can race through the words of a poem, but it's so much more filling to my soul to slow down, look at each word placed like a jewel, read it aloud and feel the sounds in my mouth.  I love that my son is learning this skill at the same time he's learning to read.


The same goes for numbers.  Of course he knows his numbers.  He's pretty good at adding and subtracting, too, just from his own explorations with numbers.  But Waldorf will teach him what 'odd' feels like.  How does it feel to be the extra one when friends are all paired up?  And how does it feel when things are even?  What is 5?  It's a pentagon, the rooms inside an apple, a star, it's my hand that builds things and my senses that know my world.  By learning now to slow down a bit and see a thing in many ways, I think that in the long run, he will be able to go deeper into subjects because he knows how to look for ways to get there.


This may not resonate for you, OP.  You may feel that your DD's academic career is more important to her growth right now, but I'd at least have a look at why Waldorf places various subjects where it does.  I find that understanding the why often changes my mind with Waldorf.  We started out as unschoolers too and I sometimes have trouble, also, with elements of Steiner.  I just keep reading Holt and Gatto alongside my Waldorf reads and we use a healthy dose of Charlotte Mason to round us out academically.  It works quite nicely for us!.



ETA, OP, we're only just starting the school year, but thus far there's been virtually no sitting to learn.  We're doing Form Drawing and we just do it on the go....straight lines and curves in the sand, with our bodies, finding them in nature, walking and running straight lines and curvy ones.  We do sit to put a form in our Main Lesson book, but that's a short sit.  We're doing music and wool-processing as extra lessons....that's on the go, too.  Humming, singing, there's a story about a magic flute and soon and very soon we'll put that recorder to the lips for a blow.  We bring our wool for carding wherever we go....it can come out in the car, at church, in a quiet moment anywhere really.  And again, I want him to learn this skill!  I want him to be the kind of guy who thinks to bring along his knitting to do during the sermon, whose hands are full of meaningful work most of the time.


Oh, and I think you can edit the post title if it really bugs you!  You used to be able to, anyway.

Edited by MammaG - 9/20/11 at 2:37pm
post #10 of 15

I totally agree with the recent comments. I was a little concerned about starting DS (4.5) on Oak Meadow K because he's known his letters (upper, lower, sounds) on a very deep level (meaning he really understands them, not just memorized) for a while now. I know I could be teaching him phonics right now. He also has been doing mental math since he was two and could easily handle RightStart A right now. BUT just because he CAN does not mean he SHOULD.  We started OM K yesterday and there was no 'teaching' but there was a lot of experiencing, warmth, joy involved in lighting a candle, doing some verses and rhymes, total one-on-one time, reading Peter Rabbit (again--he knows it well enough he filled in several sentences for me) and drawing a gate with an A on it. Yes, he did ask what the B story was as soon as we were done, but when I told him that was next week and we were going to do more fun things with A this week, he said "Oh!!! What things?!!!" Today I made up a story (loosely based in Anne of Green Gables) and we drew a house with A-shaped gables and Anne in an A dress.  We made A's with beans.  Tomorrow we'll look for A's at whole foods. The letter is not new, but the experiences are!  I liken this to someone saying "Why would I read a new book? I've already read a book before!"  Yes, but have you read THIS one?"  My son has never said to me "Mom, you don't need to read that story about knights to me, I have already read a story about knights"  nor does he say "Mom, I don't need to swing at the playground today, I have already done that before."  It's us adults that think of the alphabet as something you don't know, and then you do...the end. Why does that have to be the end?


I realize I am actually working "ahead" in Waldorf by doing a) Oak Meadow and by b) doing it a year early. But on my son's schedule, it still is "delayed" or whatnot, i.e. no academic 'newness': we are doing it for the other benefits and experiences, and do ease us into homeschooling.


I think we'll stick with OM's introduction of the numbers 1-10 for the same reasons as above, and add RightStart in next year.  No idea if we'll be doing OM 1 at 5.5.  I might look at a pure Waldorf 1st (like Christopherus) as a bridge from OM K to OM 1. Or we might go a different direction completely! I DO expect him to be working ahead at some point, when he's more mature, but not yet. At 7 (as pertains to OP)--I have no idea! Good luck!

post #11 of 15

I can fully relate to what Holiztic has stated.  My daughter is 4.75 know all her letters upper case, lower case as well as their sounds and initially I was researching phonics options because she asked me to teach her to read.  When I really began looking I felt I would be offering her more by introducing her to a Waldorf based experience rather than simply teaching her phonics or reading the very dry BOB books.  My daughter is ready academically for Oak Meadow 1 and I was really torn but after taking some time I opted to do Oak Meadow Kindergarten because I want her to enjoy the "experience" and learn a deeper meaning and context of her letter and number 1-10 I feel in my heart as a mama that this is a time she will cherish ----- not because she is learning but because her and I are connecting and living life.... it just happens that there is a homeschool program from which I am using as a starting foundation.


I love this review of OM:



"To get different results in life, you must do things differently. Our children are only young once. Their childhoods are a wonderful but unrepeatable time. I don't want to lose out on a single moment of joy. Abby and I don't need to spend less time together; we need to spend more. We don't need to get busier; we need to slow down. 

Two years into my homeschooling journey, I am thrilled to say that I LOVE Oak Meadow. I love their heart, and I love their curriculum. I love the educators, and I love the slower pace and purposeful methods of introduction that are at the heart of their learning process. I have been extremely pleased with almost every aspect of this school and am very glad that I chose it for my homeschooling journey. I feel that Oak Meadow has made me a better teacher and a better parent. 


I feel that the Oak Meadow material has allowed my 7-year-old daughter to explore and express herself creatively. My darling mom, who has taught 2nd grade in public schools for years, maintains that the best way to teach is "an inch wide and a mile deep" and acknowledges that educators today are forced to teach "a mile wide and an inch deep" in order to meet all the state-wide requirements of their districts. Oak Meadow allows me to teach a mile deep, and I know that it makes a difference in Abby AND in me!

To me, Oak Meadow's beauty is its simplicity. For science, we went outside and marked off a 2" x 2" square of ground. After studying it and observing the activity with a magnifying glass, we went in, drew pictures, and told a story about what we had discovered. Abby loved the crayon rubbings of tree bark, and we used those rubbings to compare and classify different types of trees. We headed outside to study animal tracks and to talk about animal behavior. We made a map of our neighborhood, and we watered seeds and watched them sprout.

The Oak Meadow approach is imaginative and different than anything I have seen. In many important ways, the curriculum is reminiscent of elementary school when I was a young girl, and I like that about Oak Meadow VERY much. In K, letters are made out of clay. Numbers are formed by the child out of beeswax. A relationship is established between the child and the letters and numbers she will be using for the rest of her life. 

I love the flexibility allowed by the curriculum. It is easy to take the things Abby loves to do and to incorporate them into our lessons, because Oak Meadow does not have the rigidity of other schools. We spent K making and decorating the letters of the alphabet, because that was something that fueled Abby's enthusiasm for learning. I liked that there was space and time within the curriculum for me to do that with her. We hung the letters on a clothesline with clothespins and stretched them across her wall as the year progressed. She was SO proud of her work, and I loved that the loose structure and slower pace of Oak Meadow gave us time to explore and deeply plant the seeds of learning, allowing our time to be infused with joy and peace.

First grade math takes a unique and fascinating approach to introducing the 4 concepts of math. Telling a story about gnomes and their gathering of jewels to explain addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division gave Abby the tools she needed to apply those concepts as we moved forward. The process came alive, and she was not just inundated with a series of numbers on a page.

Abby loves decorating the seasonal table that the teacher's manual suggests. We had a GREAT time doing that and incorporating outside items from nature into our displays. She loves lighting a candle and saying a poem each morning as we begin our day. She loves writing with crayons, and I completely appreciated the Oak Meadow concept of writing on unlined paper and allowing her inner strength and discipline to develop until she can write beautifully, with or without lines. 


Every time that I have needed to call Oak Meadow, I have been absolutely thrilled with the kindness and the knowledge of the people answering the phone. I have found them to be sweet, kind, and incredibly patient, and I have appreciated their suggestions. They have listened and talked through my questions and concerns, and that level of care is rare in today's world. I feel as though they are genuinely interested in Abby and in me and that they are committed to doing everything in their power to make our homeschooling experience the best it can be. 


My complaints about Oak Meadow have been small ones, but I will list them here.

1. In the K craft book, I wish there had been an indexed list of crafts for ease of use. I was constantly flipping through that book, looking for an elusive page, and it felt frustrating to interrupt my teaching when I wanted the page number to be readily accessible.

2. While I really liked the use of fairy tales, there were a few that seemed a disturbing or boring. Most of the fairy tales were engaging, but a few were long and mind-numbing, leaving me completely puzzled as to their applicability.

3. There were typos in the material from time to time, and I was bothered more than I thought I would be by those mistakes. I think there just IS that expectation within us that instructional material will be free of grammatical errors. I will say, however, that the errors were fairly few and far between. I just wish there had been none.

4. Some of the suggested reading material or craft materials (Ivory Soap Flakes) are very difficult to find because of how old they are. But when I COULD find the materials, I was pleased with them. 


~I like the affordability of the Oak Meadow material. For this upcoming second-grade year, I paid $420 for everything I will need for the entire year. When I realize that one of my friends was just paying over $700/month for her son to attend a private school in our city, I cannot get over the value for my money that Oak Meadow provides.

~I love that some of the first grade readers are stories that I read as a child. I have a lot of fun listening to Abby reading about Frog and Toad. I remember the stories well and love that she is reading them now.

~If your child likes art and drawing, the Oak Meadow curriculum really IS a wonderful fit. Abby gets to make drawing a part of almost every subject that we cover, and the ability to create is INSPIRING to her. 

~I like the teacher's manual and find it to be an invaluable tool as I instruct Abby. I like the illustrations, and I like the way the material is laid out. I love the flexibility allowed in scheduling, for some days, we tackle much more than we do on days where we have less energy. In the end, our learning always comes together perfectly, and I like the fact that such freedom is possible. Some of my friends using other curricula feel as they are behind from the very first week of school, and I appreciate that I do not feel this stress.

~I love that the craft kits are available for purchase. I like the craft materials that are used. They are unique and seem to inspire creativity in Abby. For example, she really enjoys using the beeswax crayons and is intrigued by the fact that they bring out different aspects of coloring and creating.

~I like the fact that skills like knitting are taught. To be honest, I might never have gotten around to teaching that to Abby, but I do believe in what Oak Meadow feels about the importance of giving children a chance to create something and to do it with a process that is calming and soothing to their senses. This year, we are going to be weaving potholders. Again, this is something I did as a child, and I am thrilled that Abby will be making one, too.

~I LOVE that the unlined lesson books become a keepsake after the school year is over. In fact, the lesson books are almost my favorite part of all. :-) 

~While I am a Christian, I like the fact that the Oak Meadow 
material is not Christian-based. There has been plenty of room and space within the curriculum for me to work on some Bible verse memorization and to tell an occasional Bible story, but I like that school is about learning and that I am free to give instruction about God in my own time and my own way. I love that the Oak Meadow material is excellent in its concept and purpose and that learning is their focus. Oak Meadow achieves what it sets out to do, and it does it very WELL. It leaves the task of teaching Abby about a relationship with God to me.


I have saved this point for last, for it puts the finishing touches on the story of why I love Oak Meadow. If I am completely honest with you, there HAVE been and CONTINUE to be moments where I doubt that I have made the best curriculum choice for Abby. HOWEVER, when I listen to my other homeschooling friends, I think that this self-doubt is as common as breathing in this world of homeschool. There are a million choices competing for our money and a million concepts vying for our attention and for the hearts of our children as they learn, and sorting through all of the options can be quite confusing. 

I came across Oak Meadow completely by accident. I didn't feel like doing a lot of research and wasn't even sure I WANTED to homeschool, and so I randomly typed "Best Home Schools" into Google one day to see what would come up. Oak Meadow was the 2nd school that popped up, and from the MOMENT that I saw their catalog with the cover photograph of the small acorns and then the one with the small hands covered in dirt and holding a flower, I was HOOKED and KNEW I would be homeschooling. The more I read of the founder's introductory letter, the more I found that Oak Meadow reached inside of me and articulated things about teaching and learning that I believed but had never fully KNOWN or REALIZED that I believed.

The instructions for writing a review here tell you to be specific, and I have tried to be as specific as possible, yet the beauty of Oak Meadow for me is in broader concepts. If I had to come up with just ONE sentence about Oak Meadow and its value, I would tell you that they KEEP THE WONDER IN CHILDHOOD. And for me and for the goals my heart has for my children, that is NO SMALL THING. 

As I look at other homeschool material, and they tell me that they will have my kindergartner reading at a second grade level and my first grader doing third grade math, my INSTINCTIVE question is, "WHY?" Why is this important? Why should THIS be my goal? Why can Abby not just ENJOY her childhood? Why is it unacceptable for her to do first grade work in first grade? Why is there this constant push?

The pressure for Abby to do more is INTENSE, and any honest homeschooling parent will admit to feeling that pressure. When the children in our neighborhood who go to private schools are reading so far ahead of Abby, there have been momentary twinges of doubt. But I just can't ever look at those children and honestly say that I feel they are happier or more intelligent than Abby. Quite honestly, they often seem tired and stressed, and I am watching Abby FLOURISH as a person. Oak Meadow sparks a love of learning and of creating within her, and I love to observe the growth.

Perhaps the thing I can say most definitively is that 
EVERYTHING that Oak Meadow promises about their slower approach and its success is TRUE. Abby is grasping concepts QUICKLY and WELL as I delay their introduction. For example, as I have waited for her to really grasp reading, there is far less struggle and far more pride in her successes than if I were pushing constantly. It has been a relief for me to be able to relax and just trust the process of her growing INTO reading. The same has been true for math.

When the doubts I mentioned earlier creep in over my choice of Oak Meadow for homeschooling, I remind myself to be purposeful and stay focused. For all of us in today’s word, it can be uncomfortable to go SLOWER in a world that values speed. Going more slowly means that you are completely going against the flow. It’s difficult to stick to your convictions when so many people are valuing speed and feeling free to loudly voice their opinions, but if I really look at Abby and the fact that she is thriving and is loving school, I know that I have my answer. Oak Meadow is the right choice for us. She needs to go an INCH wide but take that inch a MILE deep!

My favorite sentences in the Kindergarten Syllabus are these: "In working with children, it is never the techniques you have learned through the years that cause your children to develop their capabilities. Rather, it is the strength of your being, the light of your understanding, and the love you have for them that draws the latent spark of individuality within them into active manifestation....Helping Home Teachers in this process is the purpose of Oak Meadow, and the reason why we are unique among home study schools. We are not interested in filling children with facts, but in helping teachers and children become intelligent human beings, able to respond sensitively and deeply to the world in which they live."

Time and time again, I have found that Oak Meadow, its theories about learning, and its pace encourage Abby AND encourage me to slow down. breathe. explore. take in. soak up. learn. apply. We are better and richer and more complete as a result.


post #12 of 15
I think there's a lot of customizing that can be done in any hs situation to suit it to the child. The Waldorf sequence od subjects taught by grades is in that order to align with what a child is going through developmentally at that time.

Because the curriculum is so "open" to making it your own, you can really adapt to what your lo needs. For instance, introducing the four processes--no rules dictate that you must stick to single digit adding--if your child breezes through, why not talk about carrying and borrowing or multiples of tens? Just coz you are creating a letter book doesn't mean that your lo is denied the opportunity to write more at another time if desired. Or word families--if the cvc families are too easy, breeze past them and move on; no reason why momma cant look ahead in Phonics Pathways or similar book and just move those lessons to the board (thats what we are doing with All About Spelling and dd responds much better to it that way).

The stories are really deep--these fairy tales are studied in college classrooms! My dd and I have read them over and over and over and always get more and are satisfied each time. Ditto with Mother Goose rhymes, there are some serious social allegories going on there!

If anything, for an academically "sharp" child, you hve the peace of knowing, hey we dont have to stress about reading, that gives more time for fun stuff like watercolor painting or modeling which can really help center a child who is really smart but doesn't have the life experience to settle everything in their heads, you know?

Classic literature is big, too. Bedtime story can be just as rich as a Charlotte Mason or Ambleside type lesson. I really think the rich experiential approach will pay off--instead of learning science from a book, they are seeing the soil cycle, etc.

For a "gifted" type kid, you may want to build your own curriculum, sticking to the subjevts Waldorf gives year by year but adapting the content. I am finding it a very rich curric choice for my 3rd G kid.
post #13 of 15



Thanks so much for all this wonderful discussion.  It's really re-invigorated my thought processes for my daughter.


MammaG, your comments really resonated with me.  My daughter seems to have that "kind" of personality, where she would be fascinated with the '5ness' of things, etc.  She is so fascinated by patterns, connections, comparisons, everything is magical to her.  And yet she can be so incredibly practical and no-nonsense all at the same time.  


I've gone ahead and ordered Christopherus grade 1 for us!  It is still technically "ahead" for her, as she is technically only K (still pre-K in Waldorf-world), but the K-level Waldorf curriculums are really too easy for her... in that she would NOT find them magical or contemplative or all that wonderful 'experience' stuff, she would just find them boring.  I think the grade 1 is a good balance between meeting her where she is, and not letting her rush too quickly... letting her sit and settle and absorb things.  


I'm positive we're also going to continue to forge ahead with math, as I've said, she wouldn't let me NOT.  Heh.  Her RS lesson yesterday was "splitting 100" -- ie, "if you have 30, what do you need to make 100" and she knows it's 70.  (Because 3 and 7 split 10, so 3 bunnies and 7 bunnies are 10 bunnies, so 3 tens and 7 tens are 10 tens.  I LOVE RIGHTSTART MATH!!)  I know you can say "just because she can doesn't mean she should."  And I do agree, in principal.  But when she gets such joy out of it, then I tend to think that it's her natural drive and passion and that deserves to be respected.  My learning about Waldorf has tempered my enthusiasm over her gifted tendencies so I will be careful not to PUSH but only to FOLLOW.  


I actually am really excited about form drawing... She loves doing big 'lazy 8s' on her chalkboard right now so I know it will be right up her alley.  Pure Waldorf would frown on form drawing with a 5yo... 'wakes them up' too early and all that.  Guess I'm not pure.  ;)

post #14 of 15
Thread Starter 

Thanks for all replies, lots of food for thought.


Just to clarify, I'm not really bothered about Waldorf being "slow" academically. I've been around the Waldorf movement pretty much all of my life and I know that Waldorf schooled kids are not behind at all. I'm not especially worried anyway about her being a bit behind grade level-if I were, I would not have sent her to a Waldorf kindergarten, and until she is 7 and a bit, not 6 as I think Waldorf kindergartens often are. I do think many things are better late than early and even though I do do academic work with my ds, this is geared mainly to him being able to work entirely independently, on whatever he chooses, once he can read and so on independently.


What I'm not so sure about is taking a child who is capable of teaching herself or picking up quite a lot without direct instruction, in maths and in reading, and asking her to go back to basics. I think my big concern here centres around what she is actually being asked to do. Waldorf educators (ETA NOT people on this thread! Just general Waldorf pedagogy-sorry it was late last night when I was typing) seem to be assuming that she does not have a satisfactory mental model of things like 5-ness or z-ness, whereas I'd say she probably has to have this to have self taught as far as she has, and I don't particularly want to give her the idea that her model needs rewriting, because she is exactly the kind of child who would be very willing indeed to believe that her worldview was inferior.


I think Waldorf has a very fixed view of what children are doing at different levels, and having had 3 kids I just don't think that's realistic. I think kids are so different. I also think they massively overgeneralise with regard to how children relate to different things-the whole thing with introducing different things, eg different mythologies, at different ages, assumes that all children relate to them in the same way, and again, this just wasn't my experience.


I don't know, perhaps we will continue as we but make extra sure to include stories and handwork (we already do, but if I'm honest they are the things that give when time is pressured)

Edited by Fillyjonk - 9/23/11 at 12:20am
post #15 of 15


Originally Posted by Fillyjonk View Post

I think Waldorf has a very fixed view of what children are doing at different levels, and having had 3 kids I just don't think that's realistic. I think kids are so different. I also think they massively overgeneralise with regard to how children relate to different things-the whole thing with introducing different things, eg different mythologies, at different ages, assumes that all children relate to them in the same way, and again, this just wasn't my experience.


I don't know, perhaps we will continue as we but make extra sure to include stories and handwork (we already do, but if I'm honest they are the things that give when time is pressured)




The stark discrepancies between what Waldorf said my children should / could comprehend at various ages and what I could see they did actually understand very deeply indeed, was what led me to shrug off Waldorf as a method. I kept it as an aesthetic, and I believe in many of the values it espouses. But the methodology ... meh. We found our own way. 



New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Learning at Home and Beyond
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Childhood and Beyond › Education › Learning at Home and Beyond › Academically rigorous Waldorf curriculum?