Jean Miller & Robyn Wolfe talk Waldorf homeschooling and planning!

We’re pretty excited about sharing this conversation with the Waldorfish community! Jean and I have been long-distance friends for a while now, and finally got to meet in person in Atlanta at the Waldorf Homeschooling Conference, in March 2019.

We talked and talked and TALKED during every spare second we had at the conference, but ultimately decided we needed to keep talking once we returned home!

This video is the continuation of those conversations. The first of what we hope will be many more that we record and share with you :)

Enjoy!

P.S. Bonus points to anyone who can identify the points at which our cat Hendrix decides to weave himself through my legs while we were filming!


*Password: planning

Timeline:

0-10:28 Introduction. Robyn & Jean talk about the life events that led them both to Waldorf education, and ultimately to homeschooling.

11:30-15:00 Some common mistaken ideas we often hear about Waldorf-inspired homeschooling.

15:21-18:16 Curriculum? Pedagogy? What does “responsible innovation” mean for Waldorf homeschoolers?

18:20-21:42 Jean shares a story from her own homeschool years as it relates to planning.

21:48-24:53 Robyn talks about homeschooling in the freedom that Steiner intended… and a couple of foundational ideas to make this possible.

24:53-26:56 Jean shares some information about her planning and mentoring services.

29:25-30:20 Jean shares some thoughts about homeschooling being an ideal setting to bring forth the Waldorf pedagogy.

30:20-33:41 Some concluding thoughts from both Robyn & Jean!


Additional Resources:

4 Things to Know Before Planning Your Homeschool Year - This is the article from Waldorfish that we mention in the video.

Some gifts from Jean!

Plan It Out (click here to sign up):

Plan It Out is Jean’s step-by-step program that helps parents like us confidently build out homeschool lessons without the draining effects of confusion and overwhelm - can I get an amen?

(I have been through Plan It Out in the past and found it to be an INVALUABLE resource for helping to reign in my sanguine tendencies! I’ll definitely be sitting in on the next live run-through of the course, which starts in June.)

  • The 3 week online program includes videos and print materials with specific action steps to help you create a clear vision and plan for next month, season, or year.

  • You get lifetime access to the lessons & private Facebook group, which means you can come back again and again for boosts, guidance & inspiration.

*Remember, the next live run-through of Plan It Out starts in June! 6/9/19 - 6/28/19

Your Guide to Lively Homeschooling: Jean’s free guide loaded with doable ideas for weaving the lively arts into your lessons!

Waldorfish Families - Nichole Goff

Every few weeks on the blog, we spotlight a Waldorfish community family. You are a diverse and global group! We’re pretty sure you’d be bff’s in real life. Today, please enjoy our conversation with Nichole Goff!


Waldorfish+Families+Nichole+Goff

Tell us about yourself!

My name is Nichole, I go by Mom most of the time. We have 3 boys in 7th, 5th and Kindy 4/5. We also own a small woodworking business, newly relocated. Our dreams are to have our shop and home on the same property, and our Vision is currently in process. Our shop is built, and we are renovating the home on site, but live in a rental 5 minutes away, while doing so.

How does your family start the day? 

We start the day with Kindy, then we move into 5th and 7th. My older boys co-op at our wood shop a couple mornings a week, as well. Outside time or movement helps before school.

Nichole Goff, Waldorfish Families


Give us a snapshot of any management/organizational strategies that are helping you flow through your HOMESCHOOLING days.

What has really helped me this past year is teaching my older boys how to use a planner. If they have their week planned out, including outside of the home classes, appointments, and even online art classes like Waldorfish. It helps our days flow better. It also encourages them to be self-starters, and get going on their subjects. And it helps them know when my “office time” is, which means my availability to teach or help them with their subjects. Boundaries and limits can be an issue with homeschooling. If I do not create those boundaries they may never understand when to have school work completed = deadlines. We are flexible, but as time goes on it is nice to teach deadlines, or school can get dragged out for weeks.

Movement has been huge for us. I have sensory seekers and avoiders, so for years we’ve spent time on helping them to balance that out and cope. So our sensory life has always affected our school life and so on, it is not separate. It’s dimensional.

What are some of your favorite resources? (Homeschool or otherwise)

Waldorf Essentials, Christopherus, Pinterest, IG accounts of wonderful mamas sharing, some FB groups, local activities. And let’s not forget Waldorfish Festival Year, Geometry 5th and 7th, and Weekly Art.


What are you currently reading? 

Where Two Worlds Touch, by Gloria D. Karpinski. With the boys we are currently using Frankenstein as a read-aloud.


What do you do when you are overwhelmed or stressed?

Salt bath, fresh air, CBD oil, prayer, breath work.


Please share some words of wisdom you've gleaned over the years.

Life is messy and hard and beautiful. Life is dimensional. I’ve learned that Perserverence is the hard work you do, after all the hard work has already been done. I’ve also learned that I’m a teacher and a healer, and that I’m doing exactly what I should be doing, at this moment, working in my backyard, helping to heal the Sacred Hoop.

Nichole Goff - Waldorfish Families


Tell us a bit about how Waldorfish courses are adding to your school year. Ready....Go!

Waldorfish has helped my boys with confidence, especially my 11 year old, who didn’t feel as talented at drawing. Waldorfish has also helped me as a mama-teacher. I feel less stressed about bringing the content forward. Waldorfish has helped us become consistent each week, spiraling forward within the learning framework of each block.

Top Tips from Experienced Waldorf Homeschoolers

Shared with permission from Jean Miller, at Waldorf-Inspired Learning.

The Waldorf Homeschool Conference is coming in March! I asked the presenters to share their best homeschooling advice or favorite things about Waldorf homeschooling. Check out these top tips from experienced Waldorf homeschoolers and educators. 

We’d love to have you join us for an immersive weekend exploring the Waldorf homeschooling movement and all it can do to enrich homeschool and family life at the Waldorf Homeschool Conference in Atlanta, March 8 & 9, 2019.

This conference will feature seminars led by Waldorf homeschooling experts from around the country, hands-on demonstrations of Waldorf methods, and an Exhibit Hall featuring Waldorf materials and curricula. 

Here are some tips and inspiration from each of the presenters. I asked each one to respond to one of these questions:

  1. If you could only give one piece of advice to Waldorf homeschoolers, what would it be? OR…

  2. What do you think is the best thing about Waldorf homeschooling?

(In the video, Jean shares the nuggets from the tips. Or you can read the complete tips and advice below the video.)

Top Tips from Experienced Waldorf Homeschoolers

Jean Miller, Waldorf Inspired Learning

Jean Miller of Waldorf-Inspired Learning
The Waldorf approach fosters connection with our children more than any other teaching approach I know of. And at the same time, homeschooling with Waldorf allows children to cultivate creativity and wonder about the world. I want to encourage parents (mothers especially) to embrace this experience as a journey of discovery for the whole family! Rather than perfection, aim for connection. 


Carrie Dendtler, Parenting Passageway

Carrie Dendtler of The Parenting Passageway
The best thing about Waldorf homeschooling is thinking of the whole child, and using the foundation of the arts, movement, and the senses to help your child unfold into their place in the world.

 


Brian & Robyn Wolfe, Waldorfish

Brian & Robyn Wolfe from Waldorfish
As homeschoolers, an intimate understanding of our children allows us to take what we understand to be the essence of a particular grade or block, and then INNOVATE responsibly. Achieving the same goals, but with entirely different, child-driven means than another Waldorf family might use. As Waldorf homeschoolers, we are perfectly situated to work from this place of freedom that Steiner indicated was the basis of this entire method of education!

 

Jodie Mesler, Living Music

Jodie Mesler of Living Music
My advice for homeschooling parents? Commit to mentor sessions and participate in annual conferences! Sometimes, when you homeschool, you feel isolated because Waldorf homeschooling is not mainstream. When you talk to a mentor, you feel validated, refreshed and excited to teach throughout the year. You get new and fresh ideas to help enliven your homeschool experience. When you go to conferences, you get to meet other like-minded parents and make great new friends who will support you year round, not to mention the great education you take in. The Waldorf Homeschool Conference gives you all of that!

 

Judy Forster

Judy Forster, Handwork Teacher
I’d like to offer some Waldorf Homeschool Advice. Having homeschooled my son using Waldorf curriculum for three years (he’s now 29), having taught at 2 different Waldorf Schools, and having taught Waldorf homeschoolers for over 20 years–here is my advice:

Don’t be too hard on yourself. I have often worked with homeschool parents who beat themselves up because they can’t do the form drawing just right, can’t seem to fit in all the curriculum, don’t know how to knit, or something like that. There’s this great quote–I think it’s often attributed to Teddy Roosevelt–“Do what you can with what you have where you are.” It’s in the striving that you will find what you and your child/children need. It doesn’t have to be “perfect.” Do what you can manage and enjoy the journey!

 

Sheila Petruccelli, Sure as the World

Sheila Petruccelli of Sure as the World
My answer to both questions is the same: Story. Story. Story. Allow yourselves to get lost in a way of learning that honors the rich imagery and deep symbology of stories throughout the grades. It’s healing to the spirit and enlivening to the soul. Story time is the one practice that has remained constant throughout our many years of homeschooling, which looks *nothing* like when we started. In years to come, we may not remember box and whisker plots (actually, I hope we don’t) but we will remember Charlotte’s WebInkheart and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

Melisa Nielsen, Waldorf Essentials

Melisa Nielsen from Waldorf Essentials
I really have two pieces of advice for Waldorf homeschoolers:

  1. Planning is your best friend. Learn how to plan and you will have more opportunities to really enjoy the journey. Planning sets you free, gives you wings and brings confidence. Always.

  2. Don’t take yourself so seriously. Have fun. EVERYDAY. While Waldorf appears to have a lot of rules, making them work for you and having fun while you are learning will make it the most enriching journey you have ever taken.

 

Anne Cleveland, The Waldorf Connection

Anne Cleveland, new owner of The Waldorf Connection
My advice is to keep it simple and remember that less is more and that quality reigns over quantity. Modern life is so full that it’s easy to think that the job of a teacher is to download information to your child. The truth is that making a strong impression through a story or the telling of a personal experience that accompanies a lesson can be more memorable than “memorizing facts.”  As you plan your lessons, look for the gems, the ideas and stories that will stand out, that will fire the enthusiasm, anecdotes that you can build your whole lesson around, that might even be seeds for a lessons down the road.

One of the amazing things about Waldorf homeschooling is that you have the freedom to develop your curriculum and your teaching at your own pace. There is a structure provided for what to teach but that within that structure you have the flexibility to choose what will best support your child’s learning journey. And you can change things around and experiment to see what really works best. Sometimes that can be the most challenging part because there are so many possibilities, but at the same time this flexibility gives you the freedom to work with the curriculum in a creative way.

We’d love to see you in Atlanta at the Waldorf Homeschool Conference!





Responsible Innovation - Waldorf at 100 (Growing Old or Growing Wise?)

We recently participated in a local meeting with members of our regional Pedagogical Section Council, Waldorf class teachers, and administrators. The topic of the evening was Waldorf at 100 - Growing Old or Growing Wise?

Many schools and teachers (and Waldorf related organizations) are still not sure how to include Waldorf homeschoolers in these larger conversations - we always appreciate being invited to the table. We consider one important part of our work to be bridging this gap. How do we help homeschooling families gain access to training resources, and, how do we help local Waldorf schools find ways to include homeschoolers in their offerings?

Art credit: Waldorfish ©2019

Art credit: Waldorfish ©2019



The evening’s conversation was rich. We touched on questions such as:

  • What does it mean for the future of Waldorf education that the students of today aren’t the students of a decade ago, let alone of 100 years ago?

  • How do we meet the children of today and stay true to the underlying essence of Waldorf education?


Clearly the answers require more than one night of discussion. However, it’s more important than ever for those of us who love Waldorf education to talk openly about these (sometimes uncomfortable) questions.

There is a real danger of things becoming stagnant - becoming “things we do in Waldorf because that’s what we’ve always done.” One part of the discussion that we personally resonated with was this question:


What happens to our thinking if we change Waldorf from a noun to a verb?

Waldorf at 100.png

Instead of saying “we do Waldorf” or “we use the Waldorf method” how different does it start to feel (and look) if we instead say “this is how we Waldorf” or asking the question “how does your family Waldorf?” Suddenly it shifts from being a stagnant Thing, to being alive and breathing!  Always changing based on the child in front of us, which was Steiner's goal all along.


Freedom in Anthroposophy means acting out of love - Acting from a place of deeply knowing the child/ren in front of you. As homeschoolers, this intimate understanding of our children allows us to take what we understand to be the essence of a particular grade or block, and then INNOVATE responsibly. Achieving the same goals, but with entirely different, child-driven means than another Waldorf family might use.

*We write more about this idea here.