How we brought the Waldorf method of art, in both sequence and materials, into our home learning environment.
Incorporating beautiful art has been more of a joy for us than I ever could have imagined. My son, for his entire life, has “hated art”. Now, I never pushed him. I have, asked him to write a thank you note and have suggested to “try drawing a picture”, but he has conceded in drawing pictures very rarely.
And when he has drawn, his little eyes light up! I’ve only seen it a handful of times, but I remember each one – and I keep all of his written treasures. A bat, a monster, a transformer, a map, just a few tidbits showing me that he does have an imagination to write down.
I have been frustrated by this. I want him to love art.
But having a younger sister (who is now 5, he is now 7) who excels in her drawings and imaginative works with many different types of utensils has not helped his confidence. He looks over to her work and has exclaimed, “I’m stupid”. Oh the knife.
So after we toured a Waldorf school, with the question of whether we should put him in for his own sake, for mine, and for his sisters’, I had several thoughts.
Would his being surrounded by art excel his taste in it?
Or, would his being surrounded by art make him even more frustrated and critical of his own talents?
Thus, every parent has to make the right decision for their own.
I didn’t want to put him into a school where he would face even more frustrations, and consequent failures. So I have decided to faithfully bring more art into our home.
Every day, each day, valuing art
Rather than a once a week lesson (which rarely happened, admittedly), we do visual, creative art each and every day.
I also purchased new art materials which I knew would be a good investment (versus the cost of if we actually put him in the school each month!)
I wanted to do this right, so we were all learning, all three of us together.
What did I turn to?
First, I discovered that children in first grade (my son’s age) use and I wanted to find a way for all of us to learn these side by side:
- Beeswax block crayons
- Watercolor “wet on wet” painting
- Chalkboard drawing
(affiliate links below)
I bought one book that has helped me immensely for watercolors: Painting and Drawing in Waldorf Schools: Classes 1 to 8. This book has given me the confidence to teach the watercolor paintings to my children! To start, first grade includes experimenting with color and abstraction. Second and third grade expands on that; fourth grade is where I may struggle with some of the content as the teacher – but in three years I will have improved drastically as well! I am learning so much and taking great pride in my own creations!
And I purchased two sets of online lessons that have immensely helped with my growing learning of how to use block crayons.
They are the Beginner’s Course from Waldorfish, which include two introductory courses to block crayons.
Next, the Earthschooling Block Crayons Block (we did Level 1 & 2) which includes 16 lessons and PDFs. Now their recommendation is actually to watch the videos as the adult, and then teach the child on your own, but my children really enjoy the videos, so we will continue through the Earthschooling Level 2, Lesson 4.
As for chalkboard drawing, the Waldorf Beginner’s Course above has a small section on how to begin with a landscape, and I also have found many resources that have beautiful examples for teacher use. These online catalogs include:
Later, we added the Weekly Art Lessons from Waldorfish. (These will open again in July 2018.) They can be used on your own schedule, and after buying them, you can access them anytime via their website. These can be at our pace. For now, we are going to take the these very slowly as they expand our horizons.
The website states that the lessons can be for K thru 8th, however, they also expand the number of materials you use, such as charcoal which are generally not introduced until 6th grade in a Waldorf classroom. I am not super strict about these things, though I know that the Rudolf Steiner curriculum has been very well thought out and the reasoning behind each material introduction is very clear, succinct, and deliberate. All of the Waldorfish instruction comes from certified Waldorf teachers, so I appreciate their flexibility and the incredible gift these lessons are!
How has our art time been?
It has gone beautifully, but with some bumps. My son is engaged and delighted with the watercolor especially! He loves mixing the paint! He is still critical of his own work, and I often see him glancing at his sister’s work and comparing it to his own. There have been meltdowns and the tearing of the paper (this is expected with him). But! But he is improving, I see his walls breaking down with the movement of the brush or the firm stroke of the block crayon. We will continue to work on easy, accessible, triumph-able projects little by little.
What a joy it is to announce it is art lesson time and the children cheer! My son cheers! I cannot begin to express to you the happiness this brings me as his parent and his teacher.
What supplies do I need?
Stockmar watercolor primary set, Waldorf 1 inch paintbrushes, painting paper, painting boards, spare rags used for wiping brushes, three glass jars with lids (to store paint in the refrigerator), water jars for rinsing
I bought the Filana for my kids when they were young, and then purchased two sets of the Stockmar so they each had a special tin case. I think both are excellent, though the Stockmar are tried and true. Bella Luna Toys’ video shows and describes the differences. Filana are especially nice for young babies (ie getting the toxic Crayola out of the house!)
**After using these for a while now, I can say that we prefer the Filana here :)
Mercurius chalkboard crayons set of 12, chalkboards for each child (and a large one for you!) I’ve purchased my large chalkboard from Billie’s Boards, though I know you can certainly make your own (me = not saw or paint friendly, I’m okay with that)
Art in our home is here to stay
Art brings to the child a sense of self, a sense of accomplishment. I haven’t personally had these, in relation to visual art, in my life! I was always “bad” at art and “good” at singing and music. But, indeed, raw talent aside, practice can, and will, make the artist! What joy! I encourage you to try at home with your own children with the useful resources I’ve listed above. There is cost involved, but the rewards will be tenfold!