Grades 1 - 8
The Waldorf Curriculum is uniquely responsive to the various phases of a child's development. The relationship between student and teacher is, likewise, recognized to be both crucial and dynamic throughout the course of childhood and early adolescence. From the ages of 7 to 14, the students ideally stay with the same teacher for several years in a row, looping up with him/her each year. The class becomes a kind of family, with the teacher in guiding authority. Within this ideal environment, the student comes to know and respect his or her teacher, and over the years, the teacher is able to discover the healthiest ways to educate each individual child.
Our multi-age approach to teaching continues in the grades where classes are contained in a repeatable way year after year. Students begin in a standalone first grade where subjects are brought in a rich and thorough manner, from addition and subtraction to Russian, Handwork and Music. Then, in the 2nd year, the class welcomes new first graders, thus becoming a combined 1st/2nd Grade.
Classes are then taught by class and subject teachers in Math, Language Arts, Reading, Nature Studies, Form Drawing, Geography, Russian, Spanish, Movement, Music and Handwork.
The next year, the curriculum continues for the combined 2nd/3rd Grade. This pattern continues for 3rd/4th, 4/5th, 5/6th, 6/7th, and 7/8th, at the end of which year the 8th graders in that class graduate. The following year, a standalone 8th Grade class finishes out the cycle, culminating in its own graduation.
Waldorf utilizes a "block" style of teaching, in which core academic subjects are taught in 2–3-hour periods per day, with each block lasting 2–5 weeks. Students use what they have learned to create their own handmade, beautifully illustrated Main Lesson Books. At the end of each block, the teacher thoughtfully evaluates each student's progress, identifies strengths and weaknesses, and plans subsequent lessons with the student's learning styles in mind.
Sample Main Lesson Books:
All grades students participate in subjects that complement the core arts and academics curriculum. These include Russian, Spanish, Movement Education, Handwork, Music, Chorus, and Woodworking.
Russian and Spanish
Foreign languages in Waldorf Schools are taught immersion-style beginning in first grade. Language lessons are presented orally in the first three grades, using games, poems, and songs. Reading, writing, and grammar are introduced in third and fourth grade, building upon the oral work. In the middle school, more complex grammar and sentence structure are incorporated into the writing lessons, and classes perform plays in the foreign language, such as Anton Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard. Assemblies on the first Friday of the month showcase the work of students, as they perform skits, recite poems, and display artwork completed during their language lessons. During seasonal celebrations, students learn about the customs and traditions of the Russian people and Spanish-speaking cultures, and help to prepare foods or complete projects typical of those countries.
Physical activity is an important part of Waldorf education, providing integration of the whole body. The games curriculum cultivates basic coordination and movement skills in children, throughout their developmental stages. As they move through the grades, students explore movement activities ranging from imaginative or strategic games to tackling challenging obstacle courses and finally to competitive games (after grade 5). We encourage students to learn to play with each other before playing against each other, giving them a greater sense of responsibility and self-confidence.
Handwork carries over from skills first taught in kindergarten: knitting, woodworking, and needlework. Hand and machine sewing and quilting are taught in later grades. Students create many beautiful and useful objects, such as toys, pouches, handwork bags, dolls and more. Coordination, patience, perseverance and imagination are learned through this practical work.
Music & Chorus
Students sing and learn to play the recorder in the first grade. In fourth and fifth grades, they learn a stringed instrument. Music is taught not only for its own sake and the joy it engenders, but also because it brings a strong harmonizing and humanizing force into the student’s life. Students may begin Strings Ensemble in fifth grade, and Chorus in eighth grade.