After the early childhood years, the child moves to a new stage and the education turns towards the development of the heart and soul of the child.
“The heart of Waldorf education is the conviction that education is an art – it must speak to the child’s experience. To educate the whole child, his heart and will must be reached as well as his mind.” Rudolf Steiner, founder of Waldorf education.
Grade One children are making a transition from kindergarten to taking lessons from the teacher. The child at seven moves to a new stage of consciousness and is seeking wisdom from a ‘loving authority’. A Waldorf class teacher is an artist and 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 community relationship established between a class and the teacher develops. Friends and the social life of the class schools the child’s ’emotional/social intelligence” Ideally Waldorf teachers move with their class through the 8 years of the lower school journey.
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 games, songs, rhymes, recitation, mental math and other exercises to prepare the child for lesson work. The children come to their seats, ready for the learning. The children begin in Grade One to play a wooden pentatonic flute after the winter break.
A Main Lesson enters into one subject intensively.
The main subjects, such as 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 wax crayons in Grades One and later 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 snack and then have a half hour recess.
After a morning of main lesson, recess and then speciality lessons in French and handwork follow. Waldorf has a Handwork curriculum and knitting is for Grade Ones and crocheting follows into Grade Two. After recess may also be a time for artwork such as painting and modelling. Lunch is followed with a time for play. The class will have a combination of inside games and crafts followed with outside time, depending on the weather. Parents may chose to take their children home for the afternoon for a different pace or activities.