The Waldorf curriculum is designed to align with the natural stages of child development. It recognizes that children go through distinct developmental phases, and the curriculum is tailored to meet the needs and capacities of each stage.
In the early years there is an emphasis on imaginative play and creative activities, while academic subjects gradually become more formal as children grow older. As the child grows toward ages eight and nine, s/he begins to feel themself growing apart from the world. Their relationship with nature, eternity, with others and themselves has to be re-established. It is important that they achieve a new security, new clarity of thought and new ways of coming to terms with their emotions. The grades two and three curriculum turns to practical lessons such as farming/gardening, shelter building, measurement and grammar to support the feeling of trust and steadfastness within the soul of the child. They further their relationship to themselves through art, drama, music and the stories.
A Waldorf class teacher strives to bring the education needed by the children at their developmental stage. While the young child connected to the world through outer activities and play, the grades child is relating to the world through their feelings. A Waldorf 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 relationship established between the child and their teacher supports the social emotional intelligence of the child and within the class. 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.
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. Movement is both outer and inner 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.
During Main Lesson, the children enter into one subject intensively.
The main lessons in 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 now with coloured crayons and 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 and recess, lessons in Music, French and handwork follow. Waldorf students knit in Grade One and move towards crocheting is taken up into Grade Two and Three. The children learn French through stories, verses and songs. After recess may also be a time for artwork such as painting and modelling.
The teacher and children enjoy their lunch together. After lunch the class will have a combination of games and seasonal crafts followed with outside time, depending on the weather. The afternoon gives the children a time to reconnect to nature, play with their friends and come back to themselves after a focused morning. Parents may chose to take their children home for the afternoon for a different pace or activities.