What Waldorf Looks Like in My Home

This post is a part of Waldorf Wednesday. See all the links here.

I accuse my friend Alisha of living in a felted house. I have this idyllic picture in my head of her charming setting: winding paths that connect the (felted) houses, vibrant Waldorf-inspired homeschooling co-ops, seasonal festivals complete with happy families and cherubic children. There are probably even gnomes perched under beeswax lamp posts scattered throughout the neighborhood. I know this is not true – well, the paths, co-op and festivals are – I’m not sure about the gnomes. It is so easy to compare, contrast and find ourselves lacking when we think about what Waldorf homeschooling looks like elsewhere.

My house is not felted. My walls are not even lazured. There is no natural wood anywhere, and my boys have never had a Waldorf doll, play stands or knitted gnome hats. Pretty early on, I learned the outward symbols of Waldorf did not impart any of the intentionality, spirituality and simplicity I wanted in our home. Because, trust me, I tried to just “buy” Waldorf in the beginning. I spent a lot of money – this is not hard! – on art supplies, child-sized German brooms and dust pans, anthroposophical books that were (and still are) beyond my comprehension and a myriad of other wooden, silken and beeswax-covered items. I scattered these things around our home and hoped, like fairy dust, they would work their magic. Surprisingly, this did not happen.

The other unfortunate misconception I had in the beginning was thinking Waldorf was more about the boys than it was about me. Three years into this gig and I can say with confidence: it has so very precious little to do with my boys, and so, so very much to do with me. If I can quiet my mind, open my heart and hold the space, things happen. Big things happen. Unfortunately there is not a formula, a catalog, a website or a blog that can tell you exactly how to do this. It’s setting the intention. It’s knowing your children. It’s connecting with the angels. It’s doing all of this over and over and over. Day after day. Some days, hour after hour.

Having said all of that, there are some over-arching tenets that translate and define what Waldorf looks like at our house. My particular way of manifesting Waldorf comes with a healthy dose of Simplicity Parenting. When Waldorf gets too complicated (which is not hard, especially in the beginning) I fall back on Kim John Payne’s advice: less words, less stuff, less choices. From there, it is easier to return to center and continue down the path. Anyway, here is some idea of what Waldorf looks like in my home.

  • Seeing the whole child and educating the whole child: mentally, physically, spiritually.
  • Taking into account the ages of my children and the corresponding anthroposophical stage of human development.
  • Honoring story and art as much as math and science.
  • Knowing time outside to be paramount – second only to sleep.
  • Limiting screen time to about once a week.
  • Using handwork, form drawing, and full body movement to address a variety of physical, emotional and spiritual challenges.
  • Utilizing the temperaments as a guide in parenting.
  • Encouraging wonder, awe and reverence in myself and in my children.
  • Holding a daily, weekly and seasonal rhythm.

20 thoughts on “What Waldorf Looks Like in My Home

  1. Wow, Sheila, thank you for your words…what a gift as I sit here feeling completely defeated on day 2. You and I met at Taproot Farm this past August, and I’m so glad we did. My husband and I took our girls out of a lovely Waldorf school in an effort to save some $, and let me say, it hasn’t been easy!! As 5th and 3rd graders, my girls have a very clear picture and expectation of what the day should hold…and, unfortunately, so do I. I feel like in order to feel successful, the sooner I let those expectations go, the better. Right now, I just want to run, screaming back to our school…but I know that is not the path we are on right now. Your words could not have come at a better time…thank you. Peace. Caroline…Philly lady!

  2. This really resonated with me. We are long way from Waldorf purists but we’ve interpreted it and applied it to what suits our family. I, too, tried all that you mention but figured out that what we needed was the essence of Waldorf, and that’s what I strive for daily for the boys. Strive being the operative word. Our homeschooling dabbles in this and that but I think that our Waldorf groove is the backbone of our schooling and family, and keeps us all centered. Not that there aren’t days that I am a right mess, and want to high-tail it to a beach where I laze in the sun and am served frilly drinks by Jamie Fraser. As you can see, I have a rich fantasy life. Ah, must be all that Waldorf!

  3. Sheila, Thank you so much for doing this! I love your list and especially love the paragraph where you share that Waldorf was less about your boys and more about you. So true! Best, Rachel

  4. I just learned about Waldorf this summer so we are bringing in aspects of it to our homeschool. Like you, I think we are more into the philosophy than the “things.” We have no felt and I do not do the chalk drawings (although in my mind, I dream of being able to do them..smile). We do, however, get outside as much as possible. We use movement in our classroom. We use the stories to guide our studies. One of the best things that has come from our start in Waldorf is the creativity. My kiddos are loving the drawing and clay creations and daily art brought into their school work. I have enjoyed the Waldorf WEdnesday idea also. I will work on getting it on my blog. :)

    • Glad you are here and welcome to Waldorf. It sounds like you are doing all the right things. My boys really got creative in the beginning and have only grown from there. I love this method of homeschooling, and wouldn’t do it any other way. Yes, please try to participate in WW – it is a great way to “meet” other people doing this.

  5. Sheila,
    What a beautiful post! I was so struck and touched by your (and my own) realization that it’s the intention, striving and opening of our hearts that’s most important in a Waldorf inspired home and school life. You’re doing a wonderful job and your blog is really lovely. I’m glad that I found you thru Waldorf Wednesday! Blessings and aloha, Lori

    • Yes, of course, please feel free to share this on FB. What is so funny is that I wrote this post the week before you started the WW series. I had this whole intro part about how I wished someone could link all of our responses of what Waldorf looks like in our homes. Presto!! You were thinking the same thing at the same time.

      I love when things like that happen and I love WW!!

  6. Pingback: One Year | Sure as the World

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