There are so many ways that families set up their homes to create a learning environment that encourages effective, enjoyable learning. One important aspect of the Waldorf philosophy is to honor childhood by respecting each developmental stage and allowing the child the time and space to mature at his or her own pace. With this in mind, here are some suggestions that might be helpful.
Some families actually create a school space by having a room in their home that is just for school time, while others are seated around the kitchen table. Some use a large chalkboard to put lesson work on and/or have a colorful seasonal drawing. A seasonal nature table displaying a few well-chosen, beautiful objects can be set up anywhere and it will set the mood for the season as well as the space you are in.
Eliminating visual clutter from the child’s school space and play space can be quite calming. Rotating items for play eliminates having everything out at once and frees up space for creative uses. Some toys might be put away for many seasons and only brought out for a few weeks before they are put away again. Toys that are used year round (like blocks and dress-ups) can be neatly stowed each afternoon or evening. Even very young children can get into the habit of helping to “put the toys to bed” when play is over for the day.
Keeping noise to a minimum can also make a big difference. During school time try to eliminate background noise like music, television, or computer. Transitions from one activity to another can be easily made by singing a song. You can make up your own simple songs or find new ones in the library, online, or in our Bookstore under K-8 Resource Books.
The daily schedule for home-based students is as varied as the students themselves, and each family finds what works best for them. That said, most children benefit from a regular schedule and from knowing when they are “doing school” and when they have free time. Beginning and ending the school day with a regular verse or song can set a lovely tone and bring focus and intention to the work you do together.