Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Combining Waldorf And CM

     The past few months I've been teetering back and forth between Waldorf and Charlotte Mason.  Using CM methods and Amblside Online is working out really well for us, and it's not a dislike of anything that we're doing that is making me conflicted, but rather a like of too many things.  After reading "School As a Journey" by Torin Finser, I even temporarily thought of ditching CM altogether, and going with a complete Waldorf curriculum.  It all seemed so fun, and the block system is more how I approach subjects.  But only temporarily, because there is simply too much that I love about CM to completely follow a different method.  So I decided to make a list about what I love about  both, and then decide what I can combine.  So here it is.
  • The thing I love most about Waldorf, is the beauty of it.  Making everything beautiful and approaching subjects artistically really resonates with me.   I also like the attention payed to color, and how they effect our emotions. 
  • I LOVE the way Waldorf approaches early childhood.  Everything about it really.  I haven't encountered any other educational method that is as aware of the emotional needs of children as Waldorf is. 
  • The handicrafts are great.  Everything is very clearly defined; not only what to do, but when to do it, and what materials to use.  Using natural, high quality materials makes whatever the child works on look beautiful, and the handicrafts teach practical skills. Knitting, crocheting, weaving, and wood working, are skills you can benefit from your whole life. 
  • I like the block system.  Illustrating your lesson on the black board, delving into that subject for two to four weeks, then moving on to something else is a lot how I naturally learn.  I also really love main lesson books, and that fits into doing blocks.
  • I like the stuff.  OK, who doesn't.  Silk, beeswax, wool, and smooth polished wood.  These are luxury materials, and anything made with them is going to be sublime.  Waldorf toys aside, (which of course are wonderful) Waldorf school supplies are nice. Usually made with natural materials, they are high quality, durable, and look like something you want to use.

Charlotte Mason
  • At the top of my list for CM is the books.  Wonderful living books written by the words best authors.  I don't have to be the best teacher in the world, and be an expert on everything.  All I need is access to a book written by some one who is.  And lets face it, I just love books, so a curriculum based on books couldn't be more perfect. 
  • I really like nature studies and the way CM recommends doing them.  Not picking things apart, and destroying in order to learn about it, but using observation and respect for God's creation to learn about it. 
  • Narration.  This is sometimes the hardest thing to implement, but it's so effective.  Learning to narrate well not only helps you to remember what you're narrating, but teaches your brain how to organize your thoughts to effectively communicate. 
  • I like having my children exposed to the master composers and artists, through the use of composer and artist studies.
  •   I like the short lessons.  I know this seems like a contradiction to my liking blocks, and it is sort of.  The deal is though, that although I like the block system, Anna does better with short, varied lessons, and since she is the student, we will be sticking with short lessons.
So, how am I going to combine these two sometimes similar, and sometimes quite different educational philosophies?  Here's my plan, for now at any rate. ;)
     I'm sticking with CM for the most part, but am going to add in a few Waldorf elements.  For instance, CM recommends that children do handicrafts that are useful skills, so I will be following the basic Waldorf plan for teaching handicrafts.  This is an instance where they combine easily.  Where they are too different to combine, such as CM teaching directly from the source with good literature and living books, and Waldorf having the teacher tell stories in order to make them more personal, I will be going with CM.  The kids love when I tell them stories, but I  am not the best teacher in all subjects, and I really feel like reading strait from a good book is the best way to go. 
     I will be making a even stronger effort to present all subjects artistically, and make the environment of our home warm and peaceful.
     We do wet on wet watercolor painting once a week, not just for their artistic benefit, but also emotional, as there is something very soothing in this painting method.
We get outside as much as possible and just observe, observe, observe the word around us.  We do nature studies whenever the kids find something they want to learn more about. 
     We read a lot, both for school and for pleasure.  I try to make our days follow a rhythm.  We have very limited screen time.  The toys I choose for the kids are simple, natural, and generally homemade.  I also try to limit how much stuff we have.  Are all the kids toys "Waldorfy"?  No; I still consider legos one of the best toys ever, and I don't refuse to let other people buy them anything that isn't made with 100% natural materials.  I do refuse to have any electronic toy. Period.
     The main thing I strive to do is to instill a sense of curiosity and a love of learning in my children, no matter what educational philosophy we follow.  Of course all of this is pointless without God being the center of our lives.  If I can teach the kids to love God with all their heart, soul, and mind, I will have succeeded.


  1. I agree with you 100%. I am going to enjoy your exploring this and will enjoy learning from you.

  2. Thank you, Phyllis. I am learning as I go.

  3. Do you have any updates on how combining the two methods is going? I am a mostly Waldorf homeschooling Mom looking to combine this with many aspects of CM and would love to read more on what you are currently doing.. Many thanks..

  4. At this point I'm not sure what I would call our homeschooling method. lol I find that implementing a Waldorf curriculum in a homeschool is hard, because it is designed to be used in a school. I did a very waldorf inspired kindergarten year with the twins, but now that they're in first grade, we really don't do any waldorf type curriculum.

  5. Great Post! I too love so many things about BOTH Waldorf and Charlotte Mason and have been trying to figure out how best to blend the two! Thank you for sharing your journey!

  6. Great Post! I too love so many things about BOTH Waldorf and Charlotte Mason and have been trying to figure out how best to blend the two! Thank you for sharing your journey!