“I am confident that the education they have received will make them individuals who can and will take the time to think for themselves and inspire and lead others.”
Elementary School Overview
During the elementary school years, the child’s consciousness gradually shifts from a pictorial to a more conceptual focus. Our curriculum is designed to accompany the child through this gradual process of unfolding capacities.
There is a rhythmic structure to individual lesson plans, and to the course of the school year. Students learn through “block teaching,” working intensively each morning with one subject for several weeks before another subject is introduced. This allows for greater concentration and retention of material. After the morning academic work come the artistic, practical and movement classes, as well as continuing skills work in English, mathematics and foreign languages.
Besides language arts, science, math and history the White Mountain Waldorf School also offers specialty subjects for all grades:
- Handwork: knitting, crochet, sewing, cross-stitch, basic weaving, toy making
- Music: singing, pentatonic flute, recorder, string instruments, wind, brass, and percussion instruments.
- Foreign language: German
- Art: watercolor painting, form drawing, beeswax and clay modeling, perspective drawing.
To provide security and continuity in the passage from childhood to adolescence, one “class teacher” oversees the student’s development between ages 7 and 14. In this way, the teacher comes to know each student in depth and can attend carefully to his or her needs over time. The contact with one class teacher is supplemented by interaction with numerous other teachers who provide specific instruction in foreign languages, music, fine arts, handwork, and woodwork.
The 1st grade curriculum is built on daily routines that provide form, structure and rhythm for independent work and group activities. A first grader is introduced to the letters of the alphabet through oral storytelling and chalkboard drawings. The teachers lead the children from concrete representational pictures to abstract letter symbols.
The first grader experiences the curriculum through natural sciences, fairy tales, handwork, music, painting, drawing and modeling.
First Grade Curriculum:
- Introduction to writing through story and picture;
- Phonics and sight vocabulary;
- Fairy tales and nature stories;
- Simple addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.
By second grade, children become increasingly aware of their experiences in the larger world and the values and perspectives of others. In written work and rhythmic movement exercises, students practice mastering the times and division tables as well as advanced addition and subtraction processes including transferring and place value. Form drawing (creating simple geometric shapes) is taught to bring balance and control to handwork and prepare the children for cursive writing. These challenging exercises develop the child’s cognitive ability and flexible thinking. The 2nd grade curriculum focuses on stories of heroic people around the world and juxtaposes these with fables that engage children with a strong picture of morality and responsibility.
Second Grade Curriculum:
- Expanded writing and reading;
- Cursive writing;
- Beginning grammar;
- Fables and saints' legends;
- Arithmetic with larger numbers;
- Numerical patterns and forms; times tables.
In third grade the child experiences a new sense of self. Students begin to question, “Who am I in relation to others and to the world?’ In Waldorf education we recognize this stage of self-discovery as the nine-year change. New capacities for thinking and judgment are emerging. The younger child’s experience of the unity of all things matures into the third grader’s awareness of a distinctly separate inner life. Strong opinions, likes and dislikes are emerging. The children begin to develop a more realistic view of everyone and everything around them.
Third Grade Curriculum:
- Composition, reading, speech;
- Old Testament stories;
- Farming and gardening;
- Shelter and building;
- Arithmetic with complicated numbers and practical examples;
- Measurement (time, money, weights)
- Grammar (basic parts of speech, sentence building and structure, punctuation and capitalization), Reading and writing music.
Fourth graders become more self-confident as their perceptions of the world sharpen. They also experience a stronger separation from their surroundings and become more independent. These developmental steps broaden the child’s perspective and show a world of endless, exciting possibilities. The fourth grader has an adventurous spirit, is full of curiosity, and is eager to explore new capacities for learning and creativity.
In 4th grade, the world-which once exhibited a magical wholeness begins to break apart. This is the appropriate time to introduce fractions. Through hands-on activities, the children find a world of numbers in between any two whole numbers. In science, the children learn about animals’ diverse qualities and contrast them to human capacities. The students learn research skills and do their first independent report on an animal of their choice. They also advance writing skills with book reports.
Fourth Grade Curriculum:
- Composition, letter writing, alliterative poetry;
- Grammar (tenses, more parts of speech);
- Norse mythology and other northern European sagas;
- Native American legends; local geography and history;
- Animals in relation to the human being.
Fifth grade is referred to as the “golden year” because students at this age are enthusiastic about learning, eager for new challenges and capable of hard work and creativity. A sense of self-consciousness emerges, yet they remain confident and harmonious with their surroundings. They develop an ordered sense of space and time, and hold a deeper understanding of personal responsibility and the ethics of right and wrong.
In fifth grade, students begin the exploration of the world in ever-widening circles of time and space. Fifth graders are enthusiastic about learning, eager for new challenges and capable of hard work and creativity. They still have openness to the world, and a level of confidence that makes them easy to teach. In geography, they study the United States and its neighboring North American nations. In history, they meet the ancient civilizations of India, Persia, Mesopotamia, Egypt and Greece through the study of mythology and culture. Plant life is the focus of science, and decimals are introduced in the mathematical lessons. Instrumental music, singing and artistic studies continue and woodworking is introduced.
Fifth Grade Curriculum:
- Composition and continuing grammar studies;
- Mythology of ancient civilizations (India, Persia, Babylonia, Egypt and Greece);
- North American geography;
- Review of fractions, the metric system, decimals.