I am a new homeschooler and I have found that the hardest thing about this undertaking for me is finding my personal homeschooling philosophy. I've read extensively about Waldorf, Charlotte Mason, Classical, Unschooling, and variations on all of them that would fall under the eclectic umbrella.
When my oldest was a baby I fell in love with Waldorf. We became involved in a school and our parenting was very Waldorf based. The more I read Steiner the more I became concerned about anthroposophy. I converted to Catholicism in 2009 and pretty much abandoned Waldorf at that point as there seemed to be too many conflicts to make it genuinely work as Steiner intended. I know many people have successfully secularized or adjusted Waldorf to fit their personal belief system but at the time I wasn't as plugged in online and I felt a little lost and unsure how to do that. I also felt that Waldorf was an enormous commitment as the early years are paced so different than most other educational options and I was unsure I wanted to commit so fully to such an alternative path for the longterm. My heart is in Waldorf though it seems to be the most parentally involved educational path that we could take.
With all that said, there are so many thing I like about classical education. It makes sense to me, I can see the longterm progression and I think the end result of its definition of what being "educated" is resonates with me. I am reading LCC right now and so much in that book makes good, solid sense to me. I have chosen Memoria Press next year with some tweaks as it is laid out and seems to follow a longterm scholastic path that I can get fully on board with.
I did just buy the 2nd grade Christopherus package used to look at it as I can't seem to let Waldorf go. There is no real way to combine Waldorf and classical ed is there? The philosophies are just too different. I like the emphasis on nature, rhythm, seasons, art and a nurturing childhood with little media or other distractions of that nature. I just also want to do recitation, memory work, cursive and Latin.
Has anyone successfully merged Waldorf and classical? Yes, I have looked at Oak Meadow extensively and at this time it really isn't quite what I am looking for though I know most think it is a good compromise.
ETA: My rising second grade daughter is dyslexic. We are committed to Phonics Road at this time as it is working very well for her. Waldorf language arts would not be a good fit. Also, my 4 year old son is accelerated and would not tolerate the very gentle academics of K/1 Waldorf. My conflict here is in nurturing them and preserving their early childhood while also meeting their individual academic needs.
My son went to a bricks and mortar Waldorf for a while and I tried a Waldorf approach at the start of homeschool. I also have some issues with anthroposophy, though I am sure they are different than yours. I have trouble with the idea that black is lower on a reincarnation scale than white (that is as some at Waldorf seem to understand it--and similarly with puppet shows where the faceless good puppets are the blonde ones and that bad puppets are the dark ones--which then often gets mirrored in the attitudes toward the real children. ETA: and also works its way into the children's own feelings about themselves and others.), But probably I did not have as much trouble with reincarnation idea as a whole as someone who is Catholic would have, for example. Some of that could be modified more as homeschool materials, but one needs to realize that package curriculum have been put together with the anthroposophy idea imbued into them. I only really gradually realized that such problems were problems with Waldorf, and not just with the particular school/class my son was in.
Similarly for academics, I at first thought that he just had a teacher who was a bad fit, and then realized that the method was a bad fit. A lot has been learned about how children learn since Waldorf was started. It did not work at all for my son who is also dyslexic, and it was not only language arts that did not work. Math needed to be done as a more neat black and white approach, all the crayon art mixed in with math, and gnome stories just made it chaotic not beautiful or cute or memorable. I think he was a child who needed a more true and modern approach to science--an actual explanation of what "shooting stars" are, rather than a fantasy story, and also he was a child who wanted to know what was known, not to hear back, "What do you think they are?" reflected back, as the parents were advised to do with any questions the children asked. He is having a hard time now trying to understand the idea of elements as things like iron, carbon, etc. rather than earth, air, water and fire, which Waldorf still uses and was repeated often to the children. Honestly, I do not think there was a single area where the academics were positive. But the arts aspect was nice. I still try to incorporate a lot of art into my homeschool program. However, I don't use it where I think written clarity, such as with math, is important. I am not especially well impressed by what I see of the learning that my son's former classmates have achieved except in the arts areas. ETA my son is 2e with areas that are more advanced at the same time as there is the dyslexia, and as you are worried for your younger, I think Waldorf also was not so good a fit in the more advanced areas. ETA: Waldorf has much based on ideas about the typical development of a child (which may or may not be accurate even for a "typical" child), but when dealing with dyslexia or advanced learning, or both, one is likely not going to have a child who fits the Waldorf mold. OTOH, it could be helpful to keep in mind that even if a child can do calculus at age 8, he is still just an 8 year old with 8 year old needs....one of which may be to meet him at his own actual level.
My son hated circle time, so there was not much point in trying to do that, and I don't think it is all that effective without a group. Eurythmy was causing sprained ankles, so I am just as happy that we could not do that at home either. OTOH, Daily walks to start Waldorf days were a common feature, and that (or some sort of exercise) to get the body and blood moving, is, I think, very very helpful. We alternate lessons with active playing.
One thing I realized is that the Waldorf school in some ways was trying to imitate for the early years what might be a cozy secure home environment, with cooking and cleaning, and all going on, where the children help with that, and have a sit down hot meal with a blessing, etc. And that is not so hard to do in hs, and to use your own faith's blessing and so on. I also think trying to beautify the physical environment one is in is important. We are working on that.
I think the nurture idea is important, I go out into nature a lot with my child. I allow plenty of play (still). We do a lot that is hands on. We have no TV, and he did not use computer much and no computer games at all until 3rd grade (limited carefully then, even for chess on computer, because I think the screen and electromagnetic exposure is unwise even if the content is good). I notice that he and his friends automatically tend to turn literature stories into things they play at/act out, which was a Waldorf thing, but I think it is actually better the way they do it because they choose how to do it, and are thus the creators, rather than the teacher leading it. (That was actually a problem I have with Waldorf is that the teachers and parents were doing too much of the oh so lovely arty crafty etc., stuff, not the children themselves.) We have an organic garden as part of what we do (and we have even used some biodynamics in it). I think all of this is positive, but need not be considered "Waldorf".
Theoretically, I think you could use Classical for your teaching method, in a Waldorf inspired environment, and with more emphasis on art than classical usually gives (which would mean leaving something out, since each day only has so much time and energy). One major thing I have learned, however, especially dealing with dyslexia and the more advanced parts of 2E, is that I have to meet the needs of a real child, not an "educational philosophy". Classical is not always a good fit for my son either. Or perhaps another way to put it is that my educational philosophy is that I use what I find will meet the needs of my actual child, rather than trying to do a Procrustean fit of him to an educational philosophy. It is harder than if I could just pick an x program and follow it.
Edited by Pen, 18 June 2012 - 07:05 PM.
clarity and to add some thoughts