A Day in the Life: Deanna McCasland

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By DeAnna McCasland 

When I first started my homeschool journey, my days all ran together with chaos. Finding structure and a schedule was something I struggled with immensely. My children were all over the place, anxious, and suffered from my lack of organization. I could see that something needed to change, but I just didn’t know how to go about it. 

I signed up my daughter for a cooking class, and while I was waiting on it to finish, I spoke with another mother. She mentioned that she just heard of Waldorf homeschooling and described the beautiful nature of the lifestyle. She had my full attention when she told me about how they live off of rhythm versus a schedule. It sounded like something my family really needed to survive these homeschool years. As soon as I got home I started researching the Waldorf philosophy and I knew it was what I had been searching for.

Waldorf is based on the teachings of Rudolf Steiner and he believed in nurturing the whole child- body, mind, and spirit. As an artist, I fell in love with how it nurtures the creativity of the child with hands on learning, crafts, arts, and being one with nature. We have been using Oak Meadow for 2 years and recently added in Earthschooling curriculum as well this year.

A rhythm is the foundation for how I manage to get through the day with enough time left to nourish my own needs. A rhythm is a timeline for how our days should unfold. While it is a schedule, the times are completely lifted off and there is a sense of freedom and security for the child to guide themselves throughout their days. The child knows what to expect so meltdowns and tantrums are cut down to a minimum. Children thrive in a secure environment. It has solved many of our behavior issues, especially with my young son, because it is just “what we do.” In our early homeschooling days, we were an unorganized mess, and his behavior showed how stressed I was making him. Now our days and his behavior are under control by creating a steady rhythm each day.

The activities are planned in a “breathing in and breathing out” pattern which also helps balance his energy and focus. Having our days unfold in this way also benefits myself because I have less stress and more energy.  Knowing I have it together provides a peace of mind for myself. It isn’t always perfect, but I have learned how to roll with the punches. 

I have more focus on how I am spending my time, therefore I am able to get more done in a day and still have time for myself. By knowing what is happening next during our days, I can be a more mindful and present parent vs. thinking of errands I need to run or an email that needs sent.

Do you need to be a Waldorf homeschooler to keep a rhythm? Of course not! Anyone can keep a good rhythm in their home no matter what kind of homeschooling they do. A rhythm has become the heartbeat of our home and it helps our days unfold in a stress freeway. Like you, I wear many hats. Mother, wife, sister, daughter, friend, farmer, homesteader, business owner. It can be a lot to take on. Throw in taking responsibility of my children’s education and you are sure to have a recipe for disaster. But not anymore. Our rhythm is looking a bit like this right now, but I'm always revaluating myself to make it better for my family. 

Daily Rhythm:

  • I wake up at 5 AM. (Breathing out)
  • I have quiet/meditation time until 6 AM. Having this time to myself is crucial for my sanity. Sometimes I read a book, knit, or just look at Pinterest. But starting my day off with an hour to focus on my sanity benefits us all. (Breathing in)
  • I start getting ready for the day and gathering my daily lesson plans and craft materials at 7 AM and do chores until the kids wake up. (Breathing out)
  • They are usually up by 7:30-8 AM. Once they wake, we take a few moments to gather ourselves and then I get them dressed, brush teeth, etc. (Breathing in)
  • We have breakfast around our table. Breakfast is brought to the center of the table, and the children are able to fix their own plates and pour their own drinks. While I prepare and choose what to serve in the center of the table, there is less whining and frustration about breakfast because the choice has already been made, but they still have some control by preparing their own plates. Small children seem to get frustrated and have tantrums when there are too many choices and they are feeling overwhelmed. Since we have started this new habit our days are able to start happily vs. stressed out by crying toddler. After breakfast we clean up, the kids do their own dishes and clear the table and we start our outdoor chores which are feeding animals, gathering eggs, etc. (Breathing out)
  • We gather for circle time, start our main lesson, followed by a short lesson in the schoolroom. (Breathing in)
  • We break for a nature walk and come home to a snack. (Breathing out)
  • The children then have quiet or free time while I gather materials for the afternoon lesson and crafts. (Breathing in)
  • The children help with lunch and then we move into our afternoon lesson. Afternoon lessons rotate from science, history, and music. (Breathing out)
  • This is followed by handiwork. Handiwork is very important with Waldorf homeschoolers. My son just plays outside, colors, or finger knits and my daughter sews or knits with needles. (Breathing in) 
  • The children then play outside while I have some quiet time or work on projects that need to be done. (Breathing out)
  • We then come together for dinner prep. The children loving helping prepare meals and all have a special job. They are both responsible for chopping vegetables and setting the table. We have a family meal and begin to settle down before our bedtime routine. (Breathing in)
  • The children have a bath and then look at books or continue their handiwork while I clean the kitchen. (Breathing out)
  • We then start our bedtime routine with story and they go to sleep. (Breathing in).
  • A weekly rhythm is also important to us and helps us get through our days smoothly. My toddler cannot grasp the days of the week yet, but can understand baking day, field trip day, etc. Having a weekly rhythm also gives me peace of mind knowing that all of our homesteading, housekeeping, and errands are being done and are not piling up. Everything is being done together as a family. 

Our weekly rhythm is as followed: 

  1. Monday: Cleaning day. I like to start the week with a clean house. We catch up laundry, clean floors, bathrooms, chicken coop, etc. The children all help clean the rooms and fold laundry. My toddler is in charge of folding dishrags and washcloths, and my 6 year old is in charge of matching socks.
  2. Tuesday: Gardening day. In the winter we just focus on home/farm chores.
  3. Wednesday: Errands/Co-op meeting day
  4. Thursday: Baking day
  5. Friday: Field trip day
  6. Saturday: Farm day (We spend the day as a family doing farm chores and anything that needs done around the house)
  7. Sunday: Rest  

Having a rhythm has been a blessing to both myself, and my children. It requires less energy from me because I always have time to get all of my jobs done, prevents struggle from my children which results in a happier home, and supports the activities of our family. It does require a bit of inner discipline, but please know the outcome is worth the sacrifice.


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