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Waldorf and Classical hybrid?

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#1 WIS0320

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Posted 18 June 2012 - 09:37 AM

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.

Edited by drexel, 18 June 2012 - 09:40 AM.


#2 ktgrok

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Posted 18 June 2012 - 11:23 AM

You sound most like Charlotte Mason style to me....nature/art/handicrafts plus recitation/copywork/dictation/etc.
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#3 Closeacademy

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Posted 18 June 2012 - 11:40 AM

It can be blended. It's a bit of work but it can be done.

If you have a copy of LCC and a copy of what is studied in each grade level for Waldorf, you will find that many of the topics match up. Only with adding in Waldorf you are going to make some decisions on how you want to do things.

Are you going to do block or a little bit each day?

Which topics are you going to explore the Waldorf way? Adding in the artistic element? Adding in the stories? etc.

I have successfully blending the Waldorf method of teaching reading with SWR. We used fairy tales and pictures to make the phonograms come to life.

I blended Waldorf math stories, pictures, manipulatives and Montessori type activities with both Singapore and later Rod and Staff math.

Notebooking for science and history is not much different from what they do in Waldorf for science and history.

Basically, you are going to make things more visual, hands-on, crafty and living than just reading about topics. You will explore things through all the senses. Bring in the hands, the eyes and the mind.

Good luck.:001_smile:

#4 Hunter

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Posted 18 June 2012 - 12:19 PM

Have you read the Bluedorn's article about teaching before age 10?

http://www.triviumpu..._before_ten.php

#5 birchbark

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Posted 18 June 2012 - 12:26 PM

Yes, absolutely. I think differing educational philosophies can complement each other very well. I have blended the two somewhat and what it looks like is CM with touches of Waldorf and Classical. As Closeacademy said, CM notebooks are basically the same idea as Waldorf lesson books.

We also do a nature table, seasonal books and activities, baking, and higher quality handcrafts (no cut-and-paste stuff). We are beginning to block schedule some, and I have been freed from the pressure of kindergarten rigor! I want it to be a year of mainly doing fun things together.

I'm going to be changing my math (for the elementary grades) to story-problem-style math, which is closer to the Waldorf model. I'll be using Ray's, Strayer-Upton, or The Verbal Math Lesson-- not sure which yet. :001_smile: I'm also thinking of getting the Waldorf "Making Math Meaningful" for a supplement.

Waldorf folks are proponents of learning a second language so you could certainly do Latin for that. They also do some memory work and recitations, but they do it through songs, chants, and movement.

Here are some threads that have been tagged "Waldorf with Classical." I think there is a Bluedorn article that is linked in one of them. It is written from a classical perspective but also blends very well with some Waldorf aspects. ETA: Hunter just linked it above.

Edited by birchbark, 18 June 2012 - 12:29 PM.


#6 TheAutumnOak

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Posted 18 June 2012 - 03:30 PM

I am finally at the point where I am ready to somewhat blend Classical and Waldorf...I have come to love the Classical curriculum, but I have always loved Waldorf handwork and just the aesthetics of the Waldorf environment...We are using mostly Memoria Press curriculum in the Fall, but with Waldorf handwork and electives thrown in...I am not going to try to combine a Waldorf curriculum with a Classical one (Anthroposophy is not what I am aiming for), just going to use some elements of Waldorf to round out our Classical studies and to bring us back to a time where I feel our home was more nourishing than it is currently...Back to a time when we were deliberate about bringing beauty into our lives...

#7 Pen

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Posted 18 June 2012 - 05:56 PM

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

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#8 beachrose

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Posted 18 June 2012 - 07:10 PM

You might find this helpful a chart comparing classical and waldorf
http://theparentingp...e-through-four/

HTH

#9 Hunter

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Posted 18 June 2012 - 07:21 PM

I just want to thank some of you Waldorf experts and BTDT Waldorfers. I have learned SO much from you all. I love reading your posts.

#10 Pen

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Posted 18 June 2012 - 08:20 PM

...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. :)


Forgot to say. The philosophies are very different. The reasons for doing what is being done are very different. But Waldorf does use recitation--starting in 2nd grade, each child has a verse they learn and say on the day of the week that they were born, and they learn parts for plays starting in first grade, and for other assemblies also. There is also other memory work of various sorts, such as answering questions about the stories that the teacher tells. Cursive, yes, in fact quite a big deal in Waldorf, as is form drawing. Latin, no. Homeschool Waldorf may substitute memorizing poems for learning parts in plays.

#11 EmilyK

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Posted 18 June 2012 - 09:54 PM

Just agreeing here, but thought I would chime in since my younger son is in a bricks and mortar Waldorf school. Personally, my husband and I don't feel we need to adopt the underlying philosophy to see the benefits of the educational style for our son.

Anyway, the points of commonality I see (as did others here):

-- lots of memorization, through verses recited at the beginning of the day, enacting plays based on mythology or fables, learning lines for assemblies, singing, chants, etc.

-- I think a lot of the same canon is covered, as opposed to what is covered in public school. The great stories of our culture, mythology, classic children's novels, etc. are emphasized. A broad awareness of cultures and geography, as well.

-- My son's school uses Singapore math and the Key to books.

-- Cursive is required (not one of my favorite aspects, but whatever).

#12 birchbark

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Posted 19 June 2012 - 01:01 AM

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".


This is a very good point. You might be interested in this blog post on this subject.

#13 beachrose

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Posted 19 June 2012 - 08:25 AM

This is a very good point. You might be interested in this blog post on this subject.


That is a great post!

#14 DandelionMom

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Posted 23 December 2012 - 08:37 PM

We have always found that using Waldorf with classical methods has worked out well for us.

#15 Paradox5

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Posted 24 December 2012 - 07:16 AM

I thought Waldorf materials and teachers did not teach anthro...whatever. They left that to the parents. In all the materials I have seen I have not come across any of that in the student materials. Maybe I am blind. Steiner's work is mostly based on the development of children as he observed it. Didn't he come up with the other stuff later anyway?

I will say I love Waldorf methods and environment ideas. One of my favorite books is Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne. It is naturally how I seem to be wired in many ways.

HOWEVER, I cannot teach that way for every subject. I need the structure classical gives me in some areas. It is possible to weave what you like about any method with that of another. Go classical for lang arts and math. Go Waldorf/Charlotte Mason for the other subjects. It can be done and it can be a balenced nourishing educational experience for you and your children. Use the ideas even if you do not use the materials themselves.

#16 sdunckel

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Posted 24 December 2012 - 07:48 AM

When my older girls were little, we had a neighbor/friend who was a former Waldorf teacher homeschooling her own two daughters (similar ages to mine). She taught a half-day/once per week 'Waldorf class' in her home to about six children. They covered knitting, baking, gardening, watercolor painting, form drawing, nature study, storytelling, etc. She also ran similar home-based camps for a few weeks each summer. While we were rather Classical at home, they LOVED their Waldorf-y afternoons at Ms. Ann's house! I am sad that she has since returned to work and is no longer offering her lovely class for the benefit of my two younger girls! I do think the two different approaches fit together well, in a yin & yang fashion!

#17 briansmama

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Posted 24 December 2012 - 10:24 AM

Classical and Waldorf can be combined, IMO. Both are literature-based, as is Charlotte Mason. Both Classical and Waldorf incorporate copywork, memory work, and recitation, though in Waldorf movement is used as the vehicle for learning memory work, and recitation is often done with seasonal poetry and songs.

We use Waldorf for the recommended sequence of developmentally appropriate literature for humanities and history (folk and fairy tales in first grade, cultural trickster tales and stories of sages in second, Old Testament in third, Greek mythology in fourth, etc).

By third grade most Waldorf programs incorporate spelling, regular math practice, cursive, and even more recitation (though memory work starts in K in Waldorf).

History is one area where I don't see Classical and Waldorf merging- I didn't find SOTW Ancients and recommended Booklist to line up with what I've learned about developmental readiness from Waldorf for first graders. But you'll find lots of families here who do not follow the classical scope and sequence for the early years when it comes to history. Many find that early American history lends itself better for the early elementary years, and I agree.

The beauty of homeschooling is you get to pull from various methods, utilizing what works for your family and leaving the rest! It's taken me quite a while to figure out what works best for our family, but now that my oldest is in third, I can see how well this works for us.

#18 farrarwilliams

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Posted 24 December 2012 - 12:21 PM

Hmm, this thread is old, but I'll bite anyway.

The basic philosophies of the two are at odds with each other. I often find it odd when people are choosing between educational philosophies that are so disparate. Like, oh, I'd like to unschool OR do Montessori. Huh? Of course, if you yourself have your own philosophy and fit various individual methods from different things together, then that could make sense. For example, using the 4 year history cycle, using copywork, etc. from classical and using art materials and focusing on nature and storytelling from Waldorf as a part of a greater overall program.

The part that I see that always strikes me is that some homeschoolers are just drawn to things, but don't have a greater philosophy to fit the pieces into, so it's all just bits of things you're doing together. I don't think that will necessarily hurt kids... but I wouldn't personally be comfortable with that. I like to have a greater sense of WHY I'm doing what I'm doing and how it all fits together.
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#19 DandelionMom

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Posted 26 December 2012 - 06:18 PM

Hmm, this thread is old, but I'll bite anyway.

The basic philosophies of the two are at odds with each other. I often find it odd when people are choosing between educational philosophies that are so disparate. Like, oh, I'd like to unschool OR do Montessori. Huh? Of course, if you yourself have your own philosophy and fit various individual methods from different things together, then that could make sense. For example, using the 4 year history cycle, using copywork, etc. from classical and using art materials and focusing on nature and storytelling from Waldorf as a part of a greater overall program.

The part that I see that always strikes me is that some homeschoolers are just drawn to things, but don't have a greater philosophy to fit the pieces into, so it's all just bits of things you're doing together. I don't think that will necessarily hurt kids... but I wouldn't personally be comfortable with that. I like to have a greater sense of WHY I'm doing what I'm doing and how it all fits together.



You have a great point, and it can be confusing how different contradictory philosophies can be combined to teach children well. As a homeschooling mom with over 11 years of experience, I have seen the outcomes of combining curriculum and it can be done. We started out with Waldorf materials, but because we have two profoundly gifted children it was impossible to "tame" their curiosities and deeper interests in learning. The classical approach really meets this need, but I did not want to lose the beauty and sweetness of the Waldorf way. When I tried going all Waldorf or all classical, it was either too thin or too dry,
respectively. Over time I learned that I could combine the materials in a symbiotic and beautiful way. For example, when we do work in the Alpha Omega history and geography for grade 5, I will read the passage aloud, then have my daughter work on a fully illustrated map in her main lesson book using Waldorf materials and artistic techniques. We used a combined approach with our 16 year old, who is now a full-time university student.

It can work, but I agree that you really have to know what you want to accomplish before you try to combine materials. For example, I knew exactly which elements I wanted to keep from each aproach, and which elements I wanted to lose. Actually, the Montessori method can actually work quite well with unschooling, if you make sure to surround your child's environment with the Montessori materials. However, if you just put out a few bead chains with nothing else to promote understanding then it will not work well. Montessori is extremely child-led, and so is unschooling, so I can see how those can go well together. Same thing for classical and Waldorf - they are both very teacher-led and follow a fairly rigid structure.

Anyway, great comment and very thought-provoking!
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