You may have seen pictures of Waldorf playrooms full of beautiful handmade/natural toys (we have spent years creating one ourselves!). While natural open-ended toys and beeswax crayons are indeed a part of early years/kindergarten, it can be easy to get caught up in the trappings or feel discouraged as most of us do not have unlimited resources. The truth is, most of what‘s important to Waldorf education is immaterial.
Take it from someone who has accumulated enough material to run a Waldorf kindergarten classroom: you actually need very little. The less you buy, the better - as creativity and resourcefulness are celebrated by this philosophy. Here are some ways you can do Waldorf that cost little to nothing at all.
Tip #1: Embrace Simplicity
Establish a simple and consistent home rhythm (please read why here)
- Let your children engage in meaningful work with you.
- Bake bread together, make soup, let them wash and help prepare food.
- Give them a brush and dustpan to help tidy up around the house
- Plant and Harvest fresh herbs from the garden
- Make and enjoy Tea together
Cultivate Reverence by appreciating the little moments and bringing joy and purpose to the everyday.
Tip #2: Focus on Connection
Make storytelling part of your family culture - read and tell stories together
Sing to your children, sing and dance together.
- Create rituals around the sacred everyday as opportunities for your family to connect.
- Put the screens away and talk to each other.
- Eat together, sing a meal blessing song/verse.
Tip #3: Make it yourself
With some skill, time and patience - you can make many of your own Waldorf toys/materials.
Felted/crochet figures and toys
Tip #4: Spend lots of time outdoors
Going on nature walks and spending time in nature is a vital part of Waldorf Education. Observe and appreciate the changing seasons, identify and look for Flora and Fauna. Gather sticks, pinecones, stones, shells and other natural treasures to display on your nature/seasonal table
Tip #5: Source locally
Whether it’s skeins of wool, beeswax for candles or spelt flour for baking - sourcing your materials/supplies locally will be both cost-effective, have a lower environmental impact and be supporting local farms and businesses. Look online for local farms, apiaries etc. Your local farmer's market or health food store would be another good place to start.
Tip #6: Put together your own curriculum
There are many wonderful and pricey resources and Waldorf curriculum out there. But you do not really need a formal curriculum for early years/kindergarten. Family/home life IS the curriculum. For some free resources that provide information, insight and inspiration I recommend: https://www.waldorflibrary.org
The Tales of Tiptoes Lightly Story Library - https://www.tiptoes-lightly.net/story-gallery
Some books I recommend for stories, songs, crafts and seasonal celebrations:
For the grades, you can visit your library for books and resources using helpful and detailed curriculum outlines from Waldorf schools. I particularly like how comprehensive and thorough this one is (created by Waldorf School of Lexington)
Tip #7: Create Community
There are plenty of benefits to creating or joining a Waldorf inspired or holistic parenting community. You can share experiences, resources, support and also gather to celebrate seasonal festivals together. Search on Facebook for a group near you or create your own group to connect like-minded families together.
Whether you already have many resources at your disposal or not, I hope you will find these tips helpful. A beautiful playroom full of expensive toys is not the be-all and end-all. In fact, if a Waldorf education/lifestyle appeals to you and is the path you wish to pursue, then it is only a small part of the picture. It is more important to cultivate reverence, focus on the immaterial, create experiences and connection, develop self-sufficiency and resourcefulness - and you will teach an abundance of lessons and skills to your children along the way.