General FAQs About Earthschooling

The answers to some of the most frequently asked basic questions about Earthschooling can be found below. To see questions and answers to more specific questions (for example, “How can Earthschooling meet the needs of a child on the autism spectrum?”, please see our Blog FAQs category)

Question: Are the curriculum packages sent by mail or are they all PDFs online?

Answer: Thank you for your questions. Once you make your purchase you are able to log in with a username and password you choose. Once you are logged in you can view all the videos, mp3s, PDFs, webinars and tutorials that come with your curriculum package. All these items can be viewed/watched/listened to on any mobile device (tablet or phone) or computer. All items can also be downloaded to a USB, hard drive, or mobile device. Curriculum can also be printed. Most of our members print at least the verses and schedule. Beyond that it depends on each member as to how they use the materials. Some like to print everything and others use a tablet exclusively. One reason we rely on an online delivery system is because each curriculum package comes with a large number of videos, mp3s and webinars in addition to the written curriculum.

Question: If I bought the first grade curriculum package this year could I use what I paid to go towards buying the lifetime family curriculum package next year? 

Answer: Yes, you may receive credit for any of your previous purchases when you upgrade within a year. All you would need to do is write to us for a credit code and someone can send you a code that will give you the appropriate discount. You may also request the credit code right after your curriculum purchase so you have it available immediately when you need it.

Question: My 7-year-old child is coming from the public school system and already knows how to read and write. I’m worried he won’t find the Waldorf first grade curriculum challenging enough.

Answer: You are correct, the language part of the first grade curriculum may not be a perfect fit. However, he would probably find the other areas quite interesting. During the first grade year the students learn a lot of core abilities. They learn form drawing, knitting, handwork basics, tales to nurture the imagination, storytelling skills (which becomes public speaking later in life), wet-on-wet watercoloring, block crayon drawing (which is used up until 5th grade), and more. During first grade students also learn a unique way of looking at the four processes of math which always seems to delight students even if they have ‘learned’ these skills quickly in school before. Even in the public school system the four processes of math are something children practice over and over until the concepts finally seem to take hold around fifth grade. Read more on our blog post here.

Question: I was wondering what the difference between buying the entire year and monthly is?  It’s more affordable to buy the monthly for us right now.  I just want to make sure my son will get the same subjects and education as he would with buying the entire year. 

Answer: Yes, the content for the core curriculum itself is the same if you purchase it by the month or by the year. The benefit of purchasing the yearly curriculum is that you also receive a large number of teacher tutorials and additional enrichment lessons (which are optional) for your student.

The monthly curriculum offers the following benefits:

1. The cost is less up front. You only pay $25 – 35.00 per month depending on which grade you are purchasing.

2. What you receive is very straightforward and easy to follow. You do not need to navigate the website or read more than one file. You will receive a file with all your lessons for the month along with mp3s for the verses and three basic resource files.

3. You receive these files via e-mail and can download them to a file on your computer directly.

The yearly curriculum package offers the following benefits:

1. Your cost for the year is greatly reduced. Instead of paying per month you pay one low fee up front.

2. You receive a username and password to the website which allows you to access all your curriculum for the year from any location using a computer,  mobile tablet, or phone. You may also download these files to your computer from the website.

3. You receive access to the lesson blocks as well as the daily planners (monthly purchase) so you can choose which method of teaching you want to use or switch between methods during the year (the lessons have the same content).

4. You receive access to the member forum where you can share images and tips with other members, view their photos, ask questions, and participate in the Q & A with a Waldorf teacher once a week.

5. You receive a variety of teacher support materials based on the grade you have purchased.

6. You receive access to the “Cultural Enrichment Page” which includes enrichment lessons in language and additional seasonal and holiday materials.

7. You receieve access to the member’s blog where we put additional enrichment lessons and verses as they become available. We also archive all the past Waldorf teacher Q & A sessions here.

8. You receive access to the “Essential Parent/Teacher Guide” page which contains many documents, webinars, and tutorials that help you learn more about the teaching techniques used in the curriculum.

9. You receive access to an enrichment page and math problems page. These provide the student with optional enrichment lessons as well as math problems for practice.

Question: Does your curriculum teach Common Core?

Answer: We follow the Waldorf/Block curriculum method of schooling in our lesson plans. We also offer sets of daily planners (you have access to both as a curriculum package member) that offer the same methods in a scheduled format. This alternative method is similar to the Block method. However, in these daily planners we have put the individual blocks into a schedule for you. This being said, many members use the curriculum in their own way. Some members even combine Montessori or another program or use “unschooling” style methods. We do not specifically follow Common Core.

However, if a state entity does require documentation on how the curriculum you are using matches up to their Common Core standards we can show them the correlations they need to see as requested. These charts often just require us showing available material across different grades and interepreting where some lessons like “form drawing” would fit into their “boxes”.

Question: What is the difference between lesson blocks, monthly lessons, and purchasing the entire curriculum package at once?

Answer…

Lesson Blocks: These are lessons arranged by subject where each subject is contained in one set of files. To use these files the teacher, parent, or (older) student will work through the provided lessons in order. A sample schedule is provided. However, the block system largely functions on the principle that the teacher/parent/student will be able to work through the materials at their own comfortable pace. Parents and teachers who work best with this system may have students who work more slowly or more quickly than the average student. These lessons also lend themselves well to student-led study or style of learning. This style also allows room for creativity when planning and space for outside lessons, field trips, and student additions to the subject being taught. Using one block at a time is also ideal for students that may have issues with focus, transitions, or other learning challenges.

Monthly Planners: These lessons contain the same topics as the lesson blocks, however we have put them into a detailed daily planner so you can just open the planner each day and see your daily lessons laid out for you. All the instructions, recipes, verses, stories, and illustrations are contained in the planner so you have everything you need on hand for an “open and go” experience. These lessons are ideal for classrooms that include multiple ages, families new to homeschooling or Waldorf-inspired education, or teachers/parents who function best with a firm structure. 

Curriculum Packages: Curriculum packages contain both lesson blocks AND monthly planners so the teacher/parent can try both or switch between one and the other. Curriclum packages also contain mp3s for verses, mp3s for stories (preschool only at this time), video tutorials for students and teachers, hundreds of photos of main lesson book pages, access to the Earthschooling forum, Q & A sessions with a Waldorf Teacher once a week, access to the Cultural Enrichment pages, and access to the Parent/Teacher Essentials pages (with many basic tutorials).

Question: I have a question about tests. My district is asking. Do I create exams myself or is there a pdf provided by Earthschooling?

Answer:  We do not give exams at Earthschooling. However, you may choose to grade your student’s work and use some of the material provided to give exams if your state/region requires it. Our standard student evaluation method is to have the student do the assigned work in their Main Lesson Book until they show comprehension and mastery of the assignment. This means that some students may do the assignment once while others will do it multiple times.

Each time the assignment is done the teacher will offer feedback. These evaluations can include things like correcting math problems, editing grammar or spelling, or making other observations. If you would like to offer your student an exam we suggest that you use the assignments already provided and turn them into exams instead of assignments. For example, a math practice worksheet can be an exam or quiz instead of an assignment. Or, an essay assignment could be turned into an essay question on an exam.

Question: How does testing work when we use the Earthschooling curriculum? Do you provide exams or does the parent test the student?

Answer: The Earthschooling system works on a “completion and comprehension” system which means the student will do the lesson until they complete it and comprehend it rather than take an exam after studying the subject briefly. Their completed work goes into a main lesson book which provides record and proof of their accomplishment. Parents can choose to grade this final work if they need to. This can serve as an “open book exam” if you are required to administer exams by your region.

However, because the system works on comprehension, students are prepared to take any outside exams that your region may require. For example, all of my children took the ITBS (Iowa Test of Basic Skills) exam which is administered to anyone by the state upon their request.

QuestionCould you describe the mutli-cultural aspect of your curriculum? I’m a Filipino and would like to inject our local culture in our homeschooling and from what I have read on your website, the curriculum allows for this. Could you describe this a bit more? 

Answer: Thank you for your questions. Yes, we embrace and leave room for many different cultures in our curriculum. This is how we do it:

1. Our curriculum follows themes each month or each block rather than seasons or holidays. This is so the curriculum can be used in both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres (we do include holiday and seasonal options for the blocks for those that want to include them).

2. We provide a “Cultural Enrichment Page” that has language lessons in Spanish, French and Arabic.

3. Our “Cultural Enrichment Page” also includes extra verses and stories in other languages and from other cultures beyond Spanish, French and Arabic.

4. We include stories from cultures around the world in all of our curriculum. The stories are not all from Grimm’s fairytales or Western sources – the stories are from around the world. For first, second and third grade we even include extra stories that can be substituted for the ones we chose.

5. The curriculum is planned so that stories or lessons can be easily “switched out” if you have something local or cultural you want to include instead. 

6. Our members often share their cultural celebrations on the forum and contribute to the cultural enrichment page so these resources are always growing.

Question: I will be homeschooling my daughters this autumn instead of sending them back to the Waldorf school where they’ve been going since kindergarden. I am now anxiously exploring my options. I’m interested in your curriculum packages, since they seem to be so complete. However, we are French-speaking – we’re bilingual, but we’re mainly speaking French, and I want a good part of our homeschooling to be in French. So do you think your curriculums would be worth it for us, considering I would have to translate big portions of it, and replace all languae blocks and some histoyry blocks with French/local content?

Answer from Earthschooling: People all around the world use our curriculum to teach in languages other than English. Although the curriculum itself is in English we provide a variety of verses in French and Spanish. We also provide lessons that are easily adapted to any country in the world since we work with so many different students. For example, the local geography block in fourth grade provides a daily planner and detailed instructions on what lessons the child will be doing each day, however, the actual lesson itself will depend on the local surroundings the child is taking their data from. 

History blocks also include details on how to do each lesson so that it is easy to simply substitute a French history lesson for the lesson that is already in place for that block. The only extra task the teacher needs to do in that situation is to find a French history lesson. If you write to us and make a request we can do that for you. We always fill these requests and then post them on the cultural enrichment page.

Before fourth grade this is usually not an issue as the children are working on basic language skills, math skills, handwork skills, and crafts. These lessons, when being taught by the parent/teacher, can easily be translated because they do not need to be translated word-for-word. Lessons are taught through stories and there are tips on how each parent/teacher (even in English) needs to put those stories into their own words. For example, a story about a “Sally” walking around in the countryside of America can easily be told in the teacher’s own words with “Sally” being changed to any name and her location changed to a local area. I always do that when telling stories. I don’t think I have ever told the same story twice for any of the lessons as I always adapt them to my audience. I find it easy to do as I am telling the story. It becomes “second nature” after a while. 

If you do want the children to hear a story in English or you want to practice the English version we do provide all the stories in preschool, kindergarten, and first grade as mp3s so you can listen to them. Many of our English-as-a-second language parent/teachers use these mp3s.

Question: Is the Earthschooling program accredited?

Answer from Earthschooling: Earthschooling is used in schools around the world and has been approved for use in some public as well as private schools. The curriculum had to go through an approval process at each school to show it reaches suitable standards. In this way, Earthschooling has been accepted and accredited by individual schools. However, because of our international audience we have not sought accreditation by one entity as it would not apply to all of our students, parents, teachers, and schools. You can read more details about our certifications here.

‘Are you accredited’ should not come with a “yes” or “no” reply from any institution so we advise caution with any institution trying to push accreditation as a reason to join their program. 

Question: I see that Earthschooling includes the Old Testament in the third grade curriculum. Does this mean that Earthschooling is religious?

Answer from Earthschooling: Earthschooling is a secular curriculum. We include the Old Testament stories for literary and historical reasons only and not for religious reasons. However, because some parents or teachers do not want to include these stories until later in the student’s educational experience there are alternative stories for the “Third Grade Old Testament Block” on the “Third Grade Enrichment” page. Also on the main “Third Grade Curriculum Page” under “Main Lesson Stories” there is an entire block you can substitute for the “Third Grade Old Testament Block”. It is called, “Third Grade Creation & Origin Myths” block. We included that block to act as a substitute for people who do not want to teach the “Old Testament Block”. However, we also recommend using this secondary block to expand the student’s experiences this year. You can also include/substitute stories from the Cultural Enrichment Pages (for example the aboriginal stories). 

In the description for the third grade curriculum it touches a bit upon why the students study this block. It says, “By the third grade, children are beginning to comprehend the difference between self and other and wonder where in the scheme of things they belong. To fortify their growing personal identity, they read origin and creation stories (you can choose one or more of the following: Aboriginal, Native American, European, African, Asian, Old Testament or others). Creation and origin stories give the nine-year-old an inner picture of the vast offerings of the world and the sense of wonder and potential the world holds, provide a foundation for understanding different cultures and provide a foundation for understanding world literature.” 

Because so many authors use references to the Old Testament in advanced literature (Moby Dick, etc…) it is important for the student to become familiar with these stories so they can understand the references later. In Western cultures it is assumed most people know these basic stories so references are made in political speeches, magazine articles and even daily conversaion. Some terms have even made their way into modern colloquial speech. If preferred, however, this block can be saved until the student is older. We have provided plenty of other “origin & creation stories” from other cultures for you to share with your students at this point.

Question: I see pentagrams explored as a movement in the Eurythmy lessons. Aren’t these religious?

Answer: Our program is secular in nature and does not follow any religion. Pentagrams are not religious. Although many religions have chosen them as a holy shape, that does not replace their value in math and movement. Circles, are in fact, used as a holy shape in more religions than the pentagram. Pentagrams are introduced briefly in the curriculum as complex form drawings and movement shapes that help the child coordinate brain and complex body movements. Pentagrams are actually the simplest of the “star polygons”, which is why they are used instead of the other stars. However, if you look up “star polygons” on the Internet you could substitute a more complex star shape if you feel your student is up to the challenge. 

Official Definition: A star polygon {p/q}, with p,q positive integers, is a figure formed by connecting with straight lines every qth point out of p regularly spaced points lying on a circumference. The number q is called the polygon density of the star polygon. Without loss of generality, take q<p/2. The star polygons were first systematically studied by Thomas Bradwardine.

Question: How seasonal are your lessons each month?

Answer: Because we work with students, parents, teachers, and schools from all around the globe we keep the curriculum focused on topics each month rather than seasons or holidays. We do include a light sprinkling of seasonal verses, stories, and lessons for the year so each month does have a little seasonal “flavor” but is not dependent on the seasonal flavor to use the lessons. Each of these verses, stories, and lessons are also flexible.

The majority of the extra seasonal and holiday activities are found in the cultural enrichment lessons which mesh with the curriculum itself but are set apart from it (these enrichment lessons are provided for free for all curriculum package members and are not part of the curriculum itself but do add more options for holidays and seasonal activities for those that want more).

When a month does incorporate more seasonal activities we try to make sure they are flexible and we provide ideas for people to use if they are not in that season. For example, during the month of January we have some lessons on ice (for winter), however, we also talk about how ice can be used as a fun summer lesson as well.

The lessons themselves are also meant to be balanced so you can start any time of year. This means that the language lessons we have in April, for example, do not require that you studied the ones in December first. All the lessons are self-contained.

The only exception is the month of “August.” This month does not contain any seasonal or holiday events but it does contain all the basics you need for the year so we always recommend starting with that month or purchasing it to use with the month you are starting with.

Question: I am looking at purchasing your curriculum, but I am in Australia. What relevance will your science and geography blocks have for my homeschooling?

Answer: For our Australian members we provide the following resources/benefits:

1. A document called “My Waldorf Year in the Southern Hemisphere” that guides you through how to use the curriculum in Australia.

2. A “Cultural Enrichment Page” where we provide additional lessons for Australia including Australian creation stories for the third grade block, Australian native history stories for the fourth grade geography block, and ideas for celebrating Australian Day. We add additional items to this page upon request.

3. Our science and geography programs are designed to be universal because we have students in all areas of the world. For example, the animals we have chosen to study in the “Man & Animal” block for fourth grade are animals that are commonly found in most areas of the world such as deer. We also provide a guide on how to create lessons for additional animals. Our geography program focuses on geography skills rather than a specific location. However, we do provide ideas and suggestions for students in different areas of the world.

4. The curriculum can be started at any time of year. It does not need to be started during a certain month. 

Question: Do you offer your curriculum in Spanish or other languages?

Answer: Thank you for your question. Currently, we offer the Earthschooling program in English. However, we do have many ways in which we assist parents and teachers who speak English as a second language:

1. We offer some basic verses in Spanish, French, German, and Arabic for grades preschool through fourth grade on the Cultural Enrichment Pages.

2. We offer some short stories in Spanish and French for early childhood on the Cultural Enrichment Pages.

3. We offer a teacher guide called Language in the Dell that instructs teachers in how to include other languages in the program.

4. We offer mp3s of all the verses and stories for preschool and kindergarten. Mp3s for first grade stories are coming soon and we will be working our way through all the grades to continue this service.

5. Mp3s for verses are included for preschool through fourth grade.

6. Our video tutorials for teachers can also be used by students and provide an important visual, rather than audio instruction.

7. Since you will be telling each story to the students as well as teaching each lesson you are able to teach in any language. Even in English I always change the names, locations, and many of the details in each story.

8. Our lessons are all “open and go” and we keep the instructions basic and easy to follow.

MORE FAQS COMING SOON!

If you have a question that is not answered on our website please contact us at: CustomerService@TheBEarthInstitute.com

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