In the middle grades at Alabama Waldorf School, the class teacher presents lessons to engage the imagination and feeling life of the child, while activating and encouraging the student's intellectual capacity . The ideal in a Waldorf school is that the same teacher continues with the class from grade to grade, in some cases for all eight years. This affords the class teacher the opportunity to know the students at great depth and to appreciate their individual qualities.
The middle gradeds bring structured study to the life of the student. All grades classes begin with a main lesson, two hours that focus on a core subject for a four-week block. The Waldorf approach allows a teacher to meet different learning styles. Students compose main lesson books with illustrations and text that detail each subject. This reinforces learning by having the student actively re-create their lessons. Lower school teachers are trained to meet the intellectual, physical, and emotional readiness of each student, whether or not the student attended a Waldorf preschool. Some activities related to the lower grades curriculum include:
In the fourth grade the children begin to look at their local geography, beginning with where they are in their own classrooms and working out from that familiar place. Through the study of the Norse myths, they experience their own final separation from childhood and begin the long process of standing on their own. The variety of heroes and heroines in the Norse sagas give each student the opportunity to identify with someone; the confidence of these archetypal figures helps the child's own confidence to grow.
In the fifth grade, the student feels solid and secure enough to study a whole nation, to delve into ancient history up through the Greek times. In their study of art, science, government, gymnastics, they enjoy and relate to the perfectly balanced harmony and beauty of the Greek ideals.
In sixth grade, the students delve into the study of the Roman Empire, its greatness, vanity and total collapse. The children of this age value the black and white clarity of Roman law (the basis of our own law today) and can begin to empathize with this time of struggle and growth in humanity’s history; they therefore feel that they are not alone in their own inward struggles. As students look out from themselves, Physics, with its own laws and regularity, is introduced as a study of the natural world. The contrasting studies of Mineralogy and Astronomy help the child look below and above where s/he stands, allowing the student to recognize his/her own place on our earth.
Some activities related to the middle grades curriculum include:
- Writing, reading, spelling, grammar, poetry, and drama
- Norse myths, history, and stories of ancient civilizations
- Review of the four mathematical processes, fractions, percentages, and geometry
- Local and world geography, comparative zoology, botany, and elemental physics
- Astronomy and Mineralogy
For the complete curriculum, see our curriculum overview.