The fourth and fifth grade child is meeting a new threshold of experience. The Waldorf curriculum now introduces history and geography. History brings the child to oneself while geography brings the child into the world.
While the first three grades progressed through Fairy tales, legends, and stories of ancient peoples, the Norse myths become the focus in Grade 4 and Indian, Persian and Greek gods and heroes in Grade 5. The child is gradually living into history as a record of the development of the human being and human culture. These stories mirror the evolving stages of the child’s consciousness. The journey through ancient history moves toward modern culture and consciousness by Grade 8.
A Waldorf class teacher brings the education ‘on the wings of imagination’. Learning through the arts activates the child inwardly and develops their relationship to the subject and to oneself. The close relationship between a child and their teacher supports the child through the years of their social and emotional development with their classmates.
Each day begins with Main Lesson.
A three dimensional approach infuses the main lesson. The children begin with movement, followed by stories and oral lessons by the teacher and then the children are creative in rendering the lesson in their books.
The lesson in the early grades begins with a time of movement filled with songs, recitation, mental math and other exercises to prepare the child for lesson work. The children come to their seats, ready for the learning in the classroom.
During Main Lesson, the children enter into one subject intensively.
The main subjects, such as history, language arts, science and mathematics are taught by the teacher through stories. This imaginative approach engages the whole child while they learn.
Following the oral presentation by the teacher the children work with the lesson in their books with coloured pencils. The books include compositions and illustrations that the student creates from the lesson as a means for feeling into the lesson and deepening their learning.
Main lessons are one and a half hours per day, with each main lesson subject area lasting from three to four weeks. After one month when one subject has been fully explored, a new Main Lesson is introduced. Main lesson is followed with a snack and then have a half hour recess.
After recess the children take up French lessons and handwork such as cross stitch, woodworking and artwork such as painting and modelling. The teacher and children eat their lunch together and then work on projects and service in the community. The afternoon is a also a time for the children to reconnect to nature, play with their friends and come back to themselves after a focused morning.
Two great rhythms work concurrently in the Waldorf grade school: the daily rhythm of lessons and the rhythm of the seasonal activities and festivals throughout the year. Seasonal festivals are celebrated with plays, music and gifts given to others within their class, family and community.