Each school day starts with a two-hour period in which the main academic work of the day is presented. The subject is taught for a three or four week block. This approach allows for freshness and enthusiasm, and a concentrated, in-depth experience with each subject area as well as time for integration and reflection before the subjects are reviewed.
The Class Teacher
The class teacher teaches the main academic subjects, coordinates with specialty teachers, and provides the link between home and school. The class teacher encourages mutual respect, love and understanding, and a deeper recognition of each childs individual needs, which helps each child develop to his or her potential.
Children create their own workbooks for each subject, recording and illustrating the substance of the teachers research and presentation. These books, often artistic and beautiful, are an important way in which art is integrated into every subject.
Literature and language arts are learned in the same way that they originated in the course of human history. Human beings first perceived the world, pictured it, spoke about it, and out of the sounds and pictures, abstracted written signs and symbols. In the Grade School, this process is accompanied by much phonetic work in songs, poems, and games that help to establish a joyful, living experience of the language. Special attention is given to oral memory, the enrichment of vocabulary and the development of fine motor skills. Children gradually learn to read what they have written in their lesson books. Grammar, spelling, poetry, creative writing, drama, research skills and well-chosen childrens literature provide a rich medium for the students development in language arts.
Fine arts, including drama, painting, music, drawing and modeling are integrated into the entire academic curriculum, including mathematics and the sciences. The Waldorf method of utilizing arts throughout the curriculum awakens imagination and creative, flexible thinking, bringing vitality and wholeness to learning.
Science is taught experientially. The teacher sets up an experiment, calls upon the students to observe carefully and discuss their findings so that they can understand the underlying scientific law or formula. Through this process, independent thinking and sound judgment develop. The sciences begin with Nature Studies in the early grades and then move to more challenging subjects such as zoology, botany, chemistry, astronomy and physiology.
In the lower grades mathematics are taught through movement, art, a lively imagination, mental math and practise. The use of concrete objects and much repetition lays a strong foundation for the work in upper grades. Form drawing transforms into geometry in Grade Six.
The extraordinary humanities curriculum begins in Preschool and Kindergarten with Fairy Tales and stories from around the world. The Grade School children are taken through the full sweep of the worlds cultural heritage from early mythology and legends to The Old Testament, Norse Mythology, Aboriginal North American, Asian, Middle Eastern, African and Greek cultures. By experiencing these cultures through their legends and literature, the children gain flexibility and an appreciation for the diversity of humankind.
Music permeates classroom life in any Waldorf School from the very beginning. Singing and recorder playing begin in the First Grade with the class teacher. In the Fourth Grade, choral singing and musical notation are introduced and students are encouraged to play a string or woodwind instrument through private lessons. Music is taught not only for its own sake, but also for the harmonizing and humanizing force it brings into the students lives.
French is formally taught beginning in Grade One, giving the children insights into other cultures. Language lessons are presented orally in the first three grades, using games, poems and songs. Reading, writing and grammar are introduced later in the grades and build upon the oral work.