Curriculum: Grade School
In the first grade, we strengthen students’ foundation for literacy and numeracy. Letters are introduced in terms of both shape and sound through pictorial and phonetic techniques.
Our first graders spend a lot of time writing and forming letter shapes while practicing the associated sounds — the basis for reading.
The groundwork for math is also established as we introduce the four arithmetic processes — addition, subtraction, multiplication and division — most often through math games.
First grade is filled with fairy tales, folk tales and nature stories, as well as circle games, movement and mental math practice. Every activity is designed to spark imagination and interest. First grade is an important time as students adapt to the structure of an academic curriculum and develop self-discipline, while channeling curiosity and creativity in new ways.
In the second grade, students continue to focus on reading and writing. As their work gains in complexity, so too do the stories that fill the second grade classroom. Legends, fables and multicultural folklore illustrate examples of moral conduct and parallel the more sophisticated social relationships that second graders form.
Nature stories are also an important part of the second grade curriculum, and a foundation for science lessons and nature observations on and around our campus.
In math lesson blocks, second graders build on the numeracy skills learned in first grade. The focus now is on number patterns, forms and values.
And, as always, art and movement are part of each learning opportunity. For example, multiplication tables are taught not with repetitive worksheets, but through active, rhythmic games to facilitate memorization and to help develop physical coordination and spatial awareness.
Third graders deepen their literacy skills and delve more deeply into the world of writing. Now is the time for a more intense focus on spelling, composition, grammar, punctuation and parts of speech. Cursive writing is also introduced this year, which recent studies indicate aids in reading, retention and even idea generation. We also investigate ancient civilizations and their contributions to weights and measures. In math lesson blocks, we progress to multiplication of higher numbers and other more complex processes.
Third-grade students have a better capacity to understand their world, their relationship to the environment, and the natural rhythms that divide days, weeks and seasons. As a result, we introduce main lesson blocks that center on farming, housing and clothing, time and the calendar.
There is also a special trip this year as the third grade spends a week together living on a beautiful farm, engaging in hands-on learning about agricultural practices, farm structures and, of course, farm animals.
Another important milestone in the third grade is that students begin learning a string instrument.
The Main Lesson
Each day begins with a two-hour lesson that typically opens with speech work and music, math practice and movement, followed by the main academic work of the day. Subjects are taught in three- or four-week blocks so that the students can explore the subject in depth. Rather than using textbooks, the class teachers create lessons based on their research and their knowledge of the students. Students record and illustrate the subject matter in a main lesson book — one way they are active and responsible for their learning.
Handwork, music, art, drama and the art of movement called Eurythmy, are taught by special subject teachers after the Main Lesson. Class teachers and special subject teachers meet together weekly to discuss their teaching and learn from each other.
Waldorf Education weaves the arts, music and movement into the fabric of every student’s daily life. An interdisciplinary approach to main lessons and special subject areas keeps our curriculum fresh and engaging. Creativity and imagination are continually sparked in each classroom and within each student.
At a young age, students begin lessons with their subject teachers who will also accompany them through the grades: Music, Tamil, Hindi, French, Handwork, Eurythmy, Games and Movement.
Knitting, Felting, Sewing, Crochet, Cross Stitch, Basic Weaving, Woodworking (Grades 1-5)
Handwork improves fine motor skills which has direct correlations to improved cognitive functioning. Knitting, for example, reinforces left-right brain connection and helps to build math skills. Handwork projects are also integrated into the curriculum by subject.
Recorder (Grades 1-5), Stringed Instruments (Grades 3-5)
Waldorf educators have a deep appreciation for music and encourage that sense in their students. Rhythms and transitions throughout the course of the day are established with music for the younger students. There is lots of singing, poetry, rhyming and rhythm-building exercises. Older students continue the musical tradition by learning to play a stringed instrument.
Wet-on-Wet Watercolor Painting, Form drawing, Beeswax and Clay Modeling.
Our students enjoy the complete integration of the visual arts into their main lessons and core subject areas. Painting, drawing and modeling, whether illustrating a myth or reinforcing a scientific principle, allows students to link deeper meaning to lesson content, builds focus and encourages creativity. Time spent on visual arts also improves fine motor skills and fuels young imaginations.
Eurythmy, Bothmer Gymnastics, Group Games (Grades 1-5)
Movement, particularly choreographed movement like Eurythmy or coordinated group activities and Bothmer Gymnastics, help to build physical agility and a sense of internal rhythm while developing spatial awareness and left-brain/right-brain coordination. The cognitive impacts of these activities have a lasting and positive effect on overall health and well being, as well as supporting the ability to organize and process intellectual concepts.
All students have parts in an annual class play based on a main lesson block subject area (Grades 1-5)
For each grade, the class play is an important part of the Waldorf curriculum, with roles chosen to develop each student’s innate gifts and to support curricular themes for that year. You will witness the high level of speech work that is cultivated and watch skills develop over the years. With each production, the class learns to work together as the final piece grows from a short 10-minute skit in the first grade, to something as complex as a 30-minute Shakespeare play in fifth grade.