Our family and one other are planning to gather 2 times per week for a group “co-op” situation starting early September. We have a grades 3-4 group, and a 1st grade group (if any 2nd graders are interested we can combine with them). Also children under 6, or just turned 6 in the summer can join the Kindergarten/nursery group. I am hosting it here at the farm, based on Waldorf curriculum and methodology, and I am leading/organizing the basic structure of the academics and structure of the year according to these principles. I will lead the academic main lessons to the 1st and 2nd graders and the 3-4 graders. I am looking for a few families who might be interested in joining, and taking active supporting roles such as leading the K and nursery group according to seasonal Waldorf materials, helping to prepare our communal lunch, leading nature walks, facilitating crafts, helping to set up and clean up, assist with barn chores with the children, and supervising indoor and outdoor play. No need to be experienced in Waldorf principles and ways, but need to be willing to learn and adopt these principles for our gatherings. We could even have an occasional parents group/reading group to discuss waldorf pedagogy to supplement what we are doing. If there is someone familiar with Waldorf education, or at least willing to learn and follow a curriculum, it would be great to have someone take either the 3-4 grade group or the 1-2nd grade group for their main lesson. I have all the materials necessary to do this, and can teach someone how to present a Waldorf main lesson. This would give more time to each group with a teacher.
The way the year is structured is in Block rotations, so for several weeks at a time we would focus alternately on language arts and math, with shorter blocks in things like nature, herbal medicine, putting on a play or preparation for a festival. Academic concepts are taught in a holistic way, through storytelling, art, song, verses, and games. Academics are taught conceptually, not functionally (ie, no phonics or math worksheets). It is more about immersion and living with concepts and ideas as opposed to gaining of specific skills and facts. It is not my goal to “be school” for families, but to offer a central gathering that families can either use to inspire what they do at home on their own, or use as a supplement. I am using what I would be doing with my children anyway for the year, and inviting anyone who wants to come along, and join us here on the farm as guests!
A typical day would look like this:
-8:45-9:15 barn chores
-9:15-10:00 1st (and 2nd?) grade group main lesson, nursery and K free play, 3-4 graders begin to prepare soup for lunch or work on independent project
10:00-11:00 3-4 grade main lesson, nursery and K make bread rolls, nursery and K story/drawing
11:00-11:30 grades gather for outdoor games like skip counting, etc… Nursery and K have a circle
11:30-12:00 communal lunch gathering and clean up (done in waldorf style with a non-religious blessing and candle, proper plates and silverware, and good manners and conversation
12:00-whenever….outside play, parents socializing
I would want to structure these blocks with breaks in between to allow for lots of freedom and personal family time. Also important would be having long breaks for holidays. We should be flexible with each other, knowing that we are homeschooling families first, and need to be accomodating when “things come up” due to illness, family obligations, change in personal needs, etc… arise.
Supplemental to this co-op would also be a German circle/class and a pennywhistle and handwork class that could be joined whether or not you are in co-op (or not taken if you only want to do the co-op).
As part of this co-op, we can also create community gatherings for the typically celebrated “waldorf festivals” such as Michaelmas (slaying of the dragon), Martinmas (bringing light into the beginning of winter…a lantern walk), St. Lucia and St. Nicholas days (making handmade presents and ornaments), Channukah (lights and latkes), Candlemas (making candles), maple sugaring time, beginning of Spring, May Day, birthday celebrations a la waldorf, etc… Other families can host related outings and special classes in their own homes as well.
If anyone is interested, or wants to know more about the Waldorf way of education, homeschooling and life, please contact me! I look forward to speaking with you!