A Lower School Day
The lower school curriculum is dynamic and diversified, offering humanities, mathematics, science and the arts. Mastery of the traditional academic disciplines is interwoven with artistic and practical activities to provide a dynamic and engaging educational experience for every student. Unique to Waldorf elementary school is the class teacher who ideally stays with a class from 1st through 8th grade.
The morning begins with a two-hour Main Lesson, a three- to four-week block, focusing on one subject. This uninterrupted time is led by the class teacher who addresses three areas of child development: social skills, academic capacities and aesthetic sensibility. Through social arts such as singing, movement and recitation, the children are challenged to work in a group while their own voice, coordination and memory are strengthened. They are then prepared for the teacher to lead the class into a lively discussion of the previous day’s lesson. During the review, the teacher engages the students with a variety of approaches: scientific, literary, historical and artistic. The teacher then challenges the students with new material, presented imaginatively and artistically. Each student creates a record of main lesson work in books that are filed with compositions, observations, maps, diagrams and illustrations. These colorful main lesson books are carefully crafted with attention to detail and artistic presentation and become a unique expression of each child’s learning experiences.
A recess and shorter periods follow the main lesson with subjects such as foreign language, practice lessons in English and math, music, painting, handwork, gardening, crafts, physical education, eurythmy (a form of movement), and gardening/farming. The rhythm of the day starts with the work that requires intellectual focus and ends with activities that engage the body and hands.
Grades 7-8 mark the beginning of an apprenticeship period of education which ends with 10th grade. During these years, students begin to develop the skills necessary for life-long self-education. School days begin 30 minutes earlier, with movement before main lesson. Arts and crafts sessions four afternoons each week, broken into six week focus periods, provide an opportunity for students to imagine, design, execute and review projects in drawing, painting, textiles, woodworking, farming, and metalworking.