Waldorf Inspired Unschooling

I love the philosophy of Waldorf, the simplicity, the natural resources, the beauty and rhythm of the day. We are currently living fairly close to the Waldorf ideals and have enjoyed purging the plastic and simplifying the toys and resources in our home.

We spend vast amounts of time in nature, where I feel learning is abundant and joyful. The lessons come so naturally and are never forced on our sons absorbent little mind.

We made the decision a long while ago, that our son will not be attending school. Of course, it is not entirely our decision to make, and if he reaches seven or eight and insists on going, we will have to cross that bridge and look in to our options. However, I can’t see that happening.

Why don’t I want him to go to school?

Because I want him to learn about the real world, I want him to have real life experiences, not just read about them in a book. I want him to follow his passions, not a stagnant curriculum. I want him to enjoy to each day fully, not wish away the weeks until the school holidays.

When we began looking in to home education, it seemed the obvious choice would be to follow some kind of curriculum, however I couldn’t picture myself recreating the schoolroom at home, sticking to timetables and forced lessons. It just wouldn’t feel authentic or joyful to me. So I began looking more towards unschooling.

The unschooling philosophy has become a great passion of mine. I love the freedom and flexibility it affords. I love the trust it places in children, to know what they need, to follow their instincts and to explore their individual passions. My first experiences of unschoolers were those in the radical unschooling world. As I explain in this article on the differences between various styles of home education, the people following this path and the ways they approach unschooling are hugely varied. During my initial encounters with this new intriguing world, I found myself faced with the notion of unlimited and unrestricted foods, including vast amounts of junk food, along with a huge emphasis on unrestricted access to media. I knew this lifestyle wouldn’t work for me and my family. It was too conflicting with the simplicity and beauty of the Waldorf philosophy I held so dear to my heart.

But I soon came to realise that this is just one way of approaching unschooling, and this does not have to be the way it is done.

It is entirely possible to combine the two philosophies.

How?

It’s all in the environment you surround yourself in, and your family rituals.

We meet the Waldorf ideals in providing natural play resources, performing our own adult tasks and working on our own hobby’s, whilst being open to our son observing us in our work and joining in as he chooses. We spend as much time as possible in nature, with very little rushing, allowing for plenty of opportunities to explore and discover the natural world. We limit media and are working on eliminating it from our lives. We don’t listen to the news. We create, we paint, we make, we cook. Our son is included in all aspects of our life which provides him with interesting role models to learn from and imitate.

We meet the unschooling ideals in much the same way as we meet the ideals of Continuum parenting. This has been the way we have always parented, with trust and respect for his needs and choices. We do not try to take his freedom from him. We enable him to be free to explore his environment both at home and whilst we are out. We do not worry about meeting targets and milestones, knowing and trusting that he will continue to learn all that he needs through living a fulfilling life, following his passions and living close to nature.

Though our son is a few years from mainstream school age, we already consider ourselves to be Waldorf inspired unschoolers.

This way of living has not only been so beneficial to our son, but to us as parents. It has forged an unbreakable bond between us, and encouraged us as parents to delve in to our own passions, finally giving ourselves permission to explore the things we are interested in, rather that the things we feel coerced in to achieving.

Waldorf inspired unschooling is simply, in my mind, the natural route for Continuum parents to take, and we are enjoying every step as we travel along this path.

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Are you also inspired by the philosophies of unschooling and Waldorf? How do you bring the two together in your lives?

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11 thoughts on “Waldorf Inspired Unschooling”

  1. The doll with the pink knitted cap is one of the lvsleieot dolls I have seen in a long time, and I have made my share of Waldorf dolls I would love to know who made this doll so I could send my compliments!!My children are grown now, but I made dolls for both of my boys. I also introduced dolls into their world a bit on the early side of their development. I felt a need to get there first’ .before the world culture that discourages a boys attachment to a doll could seep in!

  2. I’m currently working on creating my own version of Waldorf unschooling at home with my two young ones. I love what you’ve written here, and I agree with much of it. I too feel drawn to these two seemingly dichotomous worlds, yet there are aspects to both that don’t work for us. As a Waldorf homeschooler I was constantly feeling like I wasn’t “doing it right”, but I think the protection it affords is important in ways radical unschoolers don’t agree with. So right now we have a very short and sweet little circle and lesson time in the morning, and then the rest of the day follows a natural rhythm where the kids are learning more than I can fathom. The more I let go and just flow with the day, the more it seems to be working! Thank you for describing how you make it happen!

    1. Sounds like you’ve found a really enjoyable balance that works for you all! We are always evolving our style to suit our needs and I am currently introducing more aspects of Montessori and Reggio to the mix. Our style is eclectic and ever changing but always in tune with our values, and aiming to provide a rich and inviting environment for our son to explore his interests. Good luck on your home schooling journey!

      1. Just wondering how you incorporat Montessori at home? I was under the impression you need a lot of really specific “toys-that-you-don’t-call-toys” for that. But I admit to knowing very very little about Montessori. However, I am very interested! Having just broken myself free from Waldorf dogma, I am now free to open myself to incorporate more ways of doing things!

  3. Hi Love Parenting, I really enjoyed reading the article and your comments. I’m new to this, could you suggest a good book to use as reference? Thank you in advance 😉

    1. Hi Nora, thanks for your comment! Unfortunately I have yet to find a book that combines both the principals of unschooling and waldorf, all of the books I have read so far have been a “take what you like and leave the rest” fit for me. Let me know if you find anything that fits the bill and good luck on your homeschooling journey.

    2. Hi Nora, while it is not specifically an unschooling book I have found “Heaven on Earth” by Sharifa Oppenheimer to be the best Waldorf parenting book I have read, full of inspiration and practical advice. It is such a pleasure to read and it has had a big impact on how we parent and on the rhythms of our home and family culture.

  4. Thank you so much for sharing how you have combined these two approaches. So far we have been Waldorf inspired for the earlier years. I really want to move towards unschooling. I look forward to reading more.

  5. This was a great read. My kids are only 2 and 3 and I have done a lot of research on homeschooling and different ideas and curriculum and such and the 2 that rang closest to my heart were waldorf and unschooling. I think in years to come as my kids become school age we will definitely be considering ourselves as waldorf unschoolers!

  6. We are in the same boat! Our son is autistic so that is also thrown into the mix. I can’t say enough about just how therapeutic the Waldorf approach is for kids on the autism spectrum. And yet I see so many of them glued to screens for much of their waking hours – breaks my heart. Also, unschooling is the only way I can imagine for my son – he is very self-motivated and a voracious learner, but is completely resistant to anyone “teaching” him, in any formal way, that is.

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