Insights into the Curriculum

The Waldorf curriculum includes science, mathematics, humanities, language arts, geography, visual arts, foreign language, music, handwork, and physical education.  The integration of these subjects is a main tenet of Waldorf education, thereby providing the child a balanced and enriching educational experience.  The curriculum is conveyed with the hope of awakening within each child a love for, and interest in the world.

Home Support for the Curriculum

The Sciences:

Our task is to call forth in the children love, interest, wonder, reverence, and enthusiasm for the natural world.  Such feelings experienced in a right relationship to facts will later be transformed into true care and stewardship for nature, as well as a genuine scientific interest in the world.

The study of nature in the early grades takes on the form of stories and exploration.  While the children are still young and their consciousness is a participatory one, nature is brought alive: the waters and winds sing, plants and animals play and even argue, and the seasons are personified into quantitative characters.  As the children grow older, they experience not only wild nature, but the practical relations humans have with nature through gardening, farming, housing, building, and textiles.

The approach to science becomes more objective as the children mature.  The studies of animals, plants, stones and stars in the progressing curriculum allow for natural history awareness and observation to develop with wonder and clarity.  You can find full list of topics covered at https://studentshare.net/biology website. In grades six, seven and eight, as the student’s conceptual ability awakens; the sciences are presented with increasing rigor and discipline, adding physics, chemistry, physiology and earth studies.  A phenomenological approach is emphasized in these years, schooling the child’s ability to carefully observe, reflect, describe, discuss, and discover, concepts, laws and formulae, as well as to ponder true mysteries.

Mathematics: 

The mathematics curriculum introduces mathematical concepts from practical reality and imaginative pictures in developmentally appropriate ways.  The four processes of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division are presented in the first grade with the qualitative character of each woven into imaginative games, stories, and exercises. Rhythm, movement and counting patters involve the whole body in understanding and integrating math concepts. Extended practice, mental arithmetic, and patterns (including multiplication tables) continue throughout the grades.  With growing complexity, concepts and examples, the themes expand into fractions, decimals, percentages, ratios, powers and algebra throughout the eighth grade.  The teacher is sensitive to each student’s ability and http://essayonlinewriter.com/article-writing/ encourages each child to work to his or her fullest mathematical potential.

The goals of teaching mathematics are:

  • To create favorable attitude toward, and to stimulate interest in mathematics.
  • To lay a sound foundation for future studies.
  • To develop:
    1. Competency in fundamental ideas of numbers, measurements and shapes.
    2. Knowledge of language and relationships
    3. Skill in computation and concept application
    4. Problem solving in mental and written form
  • To show the contribution and historical development of mathematics.
  • To develop an age appropriate transition from concrete and imaginative picture thinking to abstract concept development.
  • To assist the child in making mathematics his or her own.

Humanities: 

The story of humanity is told throughout the grades.  Through the imaginative and artistic rendering in the oral tradition of story telling, these great cultural tales reflect the evolving human consciousness and are conveyed at specific times according to the appropriate developmental stages of the child.

These stories include:

  • Kindergarten: Fairy Tales
  • Grade 1: Fairy and folk tales
  • Grade 2 Legends and sages and fables
  • Grade 3 The history of the Hebrew people as told through the Old Testament.
  • Grade 4 Norse mythology, sometimes including the Finnish epic of the Kalevala and stories of the Native American Indians.
  • Grade 5 Ancient Indian, Persian, Egyptian and Creek mythology, and the Golden Age of Greece up to the time of Alexander the Great.
  • Grade 6 Roman mythology and history, Arthurian and Grail Legends, and the Middle Ages
  • Grade 7 Renaissance history (The Voyages of Discovery, artists and the reformation.)
  • Grade 8 The American, French and Industrial Revolutions, United States and modern world history.

The humanities are the basis from which many other curriculum studies arise.  From these studies stem a multitude of opportunities for developing self expression.

Language Arts:

Historically, writing arose among humanity from picture writing and hieroglyphics.  Accordingly, writing develops in the first grade from pictorial representations. In learning to form the different letters, the whole body is brought into action in walking, marching, running, and whole arm movements.   The children then learn to read from their own writing.  Through practice and repetition in writing complete words and sentences, the children become readers in a lively and self-creating fashion.  This is followed by an introduction to reading from books and gradually the rich world of literature opens up to the students.  Main Lesson themes serve s inspiration for literature, and as the years pass, children inspire each other through animated sharing of their favorite books and own book reports.  Reading comprehension is further fostered by thoughtful class conversation and assignments in older grades.

Beauty is encouraged in the written word, both in meaning and in appearance.  Printing is followed by cursive in second and third grade, and calligraphy or italic writing is taught in the upper grades.  By writing poems and stories, by composing descriptions of their own experiences, and by scripting dictations from the teacher, the children’s writing activities intensify through the years as they achieve fluency and confidence.  In grade four, grammar lessons accompany this increasing skill as the teacher gradually makes the students aware of language principles that have hitherto been unconscious.  Composition styles are developed in the older grades, as well as report writing, which the students gradually incorporate into the main lesson work, as well as special projects and assignments.

Speech is primary in all language skills.  Accurate listening is fundamental to accurate speaking, and both lead to better spelling and sentence construction.  Speech patterns form the basis for clear thinking processes.  Research indicates that the pictorial nature and mental imagery associated with the listening to and telling of stories is characteristic of creative as well as logical thinking.  Therefore, Waldorf teachers place extraordinary importance on teaching in the oral traditions of lively story telling, rich recitation, and active sharing by students.  Through example and friendly guidance, children’s speaking habits are cultivated, and greater attention spans are developed.  All of these capacities are broadly fostered throughout the grades.  While the kindergarten and younger grades include more recitation and poems, the older grades utilize individual oral speaking as well as choral work.

Geography:

Geography offers qualities of wholeness and ecology: it connects land, climate, and ecosystems with human nature.  It unites the sciences, humanities and arts.  As it is clearly an integration of several subjects, each teacher will approach this somewhat differently.  With the world economy, communications, and global concerns, the teacher of geography is more important than ever before.

Geography is taught in step with developmental levels of the children.  In the kindergarten and early grades stories, songs, poems, exploration, art, and games awaken loving interest in the surroundings.  Practical aspects of the community and land are fostered in gardening, farming, clothing, building, and cooking.  The formal study of geography begins with pictorial/descriptive approach beginning locally.  Children draw and shape simple maps with landscape features artistically represented while local history and contemporary elemental are woven into the lessons.  The curriculum expands from the immediate community to state, regional, national, and global studies.  Economic geography and regional living conditions are presented, with the close relationship between humans and nature highlighted.  In the upper grades, the great sweeps of history are tied to the colorful characteristics of the sea and land with their respective environmental influences on civilizations.  Students become versed in the technical aspects of map making and reading as well as global phenomena such as oceans currents, climate and weather.  Feelings of social responsibility and international goodwill are awakened through focusing on many different cultures and lands around the world.  Gradually, a sense that the earth is “home” matures into a thoughtful understanding and interest in the broader word.

Foreign Language:

Starting in the first grade, students learn a second language by imitating not only the outer sounds and tones of the new language, but also its inner soul element.  When learning another language, the process itself demands lateral (versus linear) thinking and influences the flexibility and development of the speech organs.  In the older grades, written work, grammar and syntax are emphasized as well.  The foreign language curriculum also strives to nurture within the child an interest in and an understanding of other people and their cultures.

Visual Arts: 

“Joy and happiness in living, a love for all existence, a power and
Energy for work, such are the life results of a right cultivation of
the feeling for beauty and for art.”

~Rudolf Steiner
The visual arts program is an integral part of the total curriculum.  In the kindergarten and younger grades a sense for color is carefully cultivated as a fundamental training in aesthetics.  Through the wet-on-wet watercolor painting technique, the students experience a personal sense for the nature of each color.  Children learn balance and harmony in blending the colors, as well as flexibility.  Teachers gradually guide the students in creating form out of the colors themselves.

Drawings are created with large block and stick crayons in the kindergarten and younger grades, followed by stick crayons and colored pencils, as the children grow older.  The tools become more refined as do the children’s motor skills.  The specific subject of form drawing develops the sense for lines and curves.  Symmetry, balance, centering, rhythmical repetition, patterns, and metamorphosis are all experienced through form drawing.

Modeling: 

“Modeling can help to overcome the problem of passive taking of sense perception so prevalent in today’s world, by bringing about a lovely, healthy connection between the three realms of thinking, feeling, and willing.”

~Rudolf Steiner
Through the media of beeswax, plasticine, clay, and wood, children develop a tangible sense of form.  By molding and shaping with fingers and hands, pupils gain a tactile, spatial orientation to their environment.  Neurologists indicate the importance of this in such diverse realms as reading and mechanics.  Students also cultivate a qualitative feeling for different natural substances and thus refine and integrate their many senses, which come into play such as touch, warmth, smell, weight, movement and balance. Modeling is an activity that strengthens attention span and imaginative creativity as well as practical skill.

Music: 

Music permeates a Waldorf school and is taught not only for its own sake and the joy it engenders but also for the strong harmonizing and humanizing force it brings into a students life.  In the Waldorf School, each student is given the opportunity to experience great richness and variety of music.  We strive to give students a “live” music experience where feeling and understanding of the beauty of musical work is cultivated.  The teachers sing with the children from the earliest years, and singing remains a vital part of the child’s education throughout the grades.  To this is added instruction in a variety of instruments throughout the years including the recorder beginning in first grade, and a stringed instrument in the upper grades.

Handwork: 

“Nimble finger make nimble minds!” This old cliché refers to the mysterious link between hands on activity and thinking, which contemporary child development specialists now recognize as well.  Handwork activities such as spinning, knitting, hand stitching, embroidery, crochet, weaving, doll and puppet making, papermaking, clothing construction, form the handwork curriculum.  In designing and creating handwork pieces children develop a sense of color, concentration, manual dexterity and coordination.  Each child expresses his or her personality through individual choices in design and color.  Positive habits are developed in self-direction, cooperation, support of others and responsibility in carrying a project through to completion.  The child experiences the value of planning, the efficient use of tools and the beauty of natural materials.  It is hoped that each child will gain through the handwork curriculum a respect for killed crafts people and develop pride in ones own abilities and accomplishments.  Handwork is taught throughout the grades.

Physical Education: 

Spatial orientation, strength, skill, balance, coordination and speed are developed in physical education.  Besides bodily skill, children experience interplay with timidity, courage, daring, fairness, team skills, discipline and confidence.  Exercises in the younger grades are little removed from the realm of play, employing games of various kinds.  The children are gradually led over from play activity to conscious, controlled and precise movements through more technical training, games, and sports in the upper grades.

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