THE CORE ELEMENTS
Waldorf education differs in numerous ways from mainstream education in its methods and the children greatly benefit from our integrated and progressive curriculum.
If humanity is to live in the future in a socially right way, humanity must educate its children in a socially right way.
– Rudolf Steiner
The Awakening of Consciousness.
We weave art, music, movement, and practical arts into all of our lessons reflecting the widely diverse and colorful nature of the human experience. By following the natural stages of child development and meeting them in age appropriate ways, we mirror the path of humankind and the patterns of growth in civilization.
We begin with the warm, wonder-filled pictures of mythology and legend (which are pictorial yet, truthful pictures of forces at work in the world), meeting the lively imaginations of younger children and gradually lead them into a world which is increasingly abstract and intellectual. By such methods, the children become enthusiastic and self motivated learners for life and our integrated curriculum encourages them to develop into well rounded human beings with a diverse set of highly developed skills.
The playfully imaginative world of the young child can be crushed by stress and the push for early achievement, but by properly meeting the child at their stage of development, they more naturally grow and transform into clear thinking young adults filled with the light of intellectual curiosity and genuine interest in the world. We become more fully human and our love for the world and one another is greatly expanded. We come together as a human family that shares the same home, the earth, and our diversity is not a threat or liability but one of our greatest strengths for everyone has gifts to share and from others there are great things to be learned, no matter how different they may be from ourselves.
While competition has its place, it is through cooperation, emulation, and the honoring of individuals that we can transcend the limitations of the physical, material world and embrace the eternal within every one of us. Waldorf is ultimately about social renewal and if the world is to become a better place, we must begin with our children, honoring them for who they are and nurturing them so that their being may fully flower and bear fruit in the light of truth.
The Curriculum at a Glance.
- Pictorial introduction to the alphabet, writing, reading, spelling, poetry and drama.
- Folk and fairy tales, fables, legends, Old Testament stories.
- Numbers, the basic mathematical processes of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.
- Nature stories, house building, farming and trades.
- Writing, reading, spelling, grammar, syntax, poetry and drama.
- Norse myths, histories and tales of ancient civilizations, culminating in Greek history and culture.
- Review the four mathematical processes, fractions (common and decimal), percentages, and geometry.
- Local and Indian geography, comparative zoology, botany.
- Creative writing, reading, spelling, grammar, poetry, and drama.
- Roman civilization, Medieval history, Renaissance, Age of Discovery, Indian history, biography.
- Algebra, geometry, business math, graphing, ratio and proportion, number bases.
- World geography, physics, chemistry, astronomy, physiology, geology and mineralogy.
The Path through the Grades.
Reading and writing are introduced in Grade 1 beginning with story telling and working with children’s imaginative nature. The children hear colorfully rich stories which are orally recalled and summarized, and then by making imaginative pictures of the sounds, they learn the abstract letter forms. The letter ‘T’ may be drawn as a toweringly tall tree or the letter ‘G’ may be a great goose and through imitation, they record the stories in their main lesson books and soon learn to independently read the words they have written with the teacher’s guidance. Language skills are deepened and expanded to include spelling, basic punctuation, and simple grammar for the focus shifts as they progress through the year and into subsequent grades.
Formal instruction in numeracy begins in Grade 1 with the four primary processes which initially are brought with similar pictorial methods. Fractions are brought in Grade 4 when children experience a strong shift in their consciousness and math instruction steadily increases in complexity as the children progress through the grades. Decimals are brought in Grade 5, percentages and simple formulas as well as geometry with instruments in Grade 6, ratio, proportion, and pre-algebra in Grade 7, and by the time they reach the secondary level, topics include algebra, geometry, conics, probability, and calculus.
Life sciences begin at a very early age with nature studies and learning about the plants and animals with whom we share this earth. Stories of the living world encourage the development of observational skills and capacities for accurate description. In Grade 3 children learn about farming and the cultivation of food, often including a trip to a local farm to see this important work first hand. The animal kingdom is studied in Grade 4 and in Grade 5 a more formal study of Botany is taken up. Grade 6 includes mineralogy and astronomy and in Grade 7 and 8, studies in the “hard sciences” of chemistry and physics are brought.
History lessons begin with mythical and archetypal narratives in the early grades and by Grade 4, history lessons draw upon the local environment and geography. History lessons emphasize the human being and are often brought through detailed biographies of notable individuals and by Grade 5 history is a formal subject of study.
Two languages are taught from Grade 1 with English as the method of instruction and Hindi or Telugu, and Urdu as the second language. In the early grades most language instruction is oral and emphasizes the cultural aspects of language to nurture a strong sense of belonging and understanding of one another. The reading and writing of different languages is generally introduced in Grade 1.
Drawing and painting are a regular part of our school days with painting a weekly lesson and drawing a daily activity. From Grade 1 through Grade 4, children practice form drawing, a study somewhat unique to Waldorf schools but it’s running forms, geometric, and woven designs are quite familiar in it’s parallels with Indian rangoli. This art form works on many skills including penmanship, fine motor coordination, spatial awareness, to name a few, and eventually transitions into geometry done with instruments. Children are also taught modeling in clay and beeswax. Artistic instruction continues in the higher grades. In addition, students are taught a wide range of practical handwork skills including knitting, crochet, sewing, and embroidery. Sculptural woodworking generally begins in Grade 6.
Music is also a regular part of our school days and daily children sing songs with their teachers. This develops into choral singing by the middle or upper grades. Music is a social activity which speaks to the soul and is used to deepen our working with subjects as diverse as math, geography, history, and even science. Children learn to play a musical instrument, usually beginning with a pentatonic flute or recorders in Grade 1. It is our intention to follow the curriculum by starting a school orchestra beginning in Grade 4 and in such cases, students are generally required to take up instruction outside of school. Musical instruction and performing continue through all the grades.
Eurythmy is a movement art usually performed to music or poetry. This unique art form was created by Rudolf Steiner to help children develop greater harmony with their body, mind, and soul and is a required subject throughout the grades in a Waldorf school.