An Artistic, Holistic Approach to Learning
Fundamental to Waldorf education is the insight that children learn differently at different stages of development. This means that the curriculum of each grade is carefully chosen to work in harmony with the phases of the child’s inner development. It is designed to give children meaningful experiences at every age. Waldorf teachers create living, hands-on lessons that are brought with imagination and artistry.
The cornerstone of the day is the Main Lesson, a two-hour period in the morning when the children are most ready for academic work. Main Lesson blocks usually last from two to four weeks and focus on one subject. All Main Lessons incorporate the arts, including storytelling, movement, music, poetry, drama, drawing, painting, modeling, reading, and writing. Students record and illustrate their lessons in Main Lesson books that are treasured for years.
Ideally, class teachers remain with the same class throughout their eight elementary years. As a result, the teacher and students build close, secure relationships that can accommodate individual needs and the teacher-parent relationship is a true partnership. Specialty teachers provide instruction in foreign languages, games and sports, practical skills, crafts, musical instruments and chorus.
Curriculum at a Glance
Humanities and History
The humanities curriculum draws on rich and diverse cultural sources with a progression from fairy tales, fables, legends and Old Testament stories in the early grades to the study of Norse Mythology and the ancient cultures of India, Persia, Egypt and Greece. By the end of the 8th grade, students have journeyed through Roman and medieval history, the Renaissance, the Reformation, the Age of Exploration, the Industrial Revolution and Modern History.
Zoology, botany, mineralogy, astronomy, chemistry, environmental studies and physics are all covered in the elementary science curriculum. Students begin with nature stories and direct experience in the outdoors. Then, they are introduced to scientific concepts that promote an integrated understanding of the whole.
Children start with the tradition of storytelling. They learn letters through their own imaginations and pictures in nature. They write and illustrate from stories they’ve been told, creating their own books and readers. Later, poetry, creative writing, composition, grammar, spelling, oral storytelling, drama, and reading literature are interwoven throughout the curriculum.
Children are exposed to both Spanish and German from the 1st grade. Foreign languages are taught conversationally by native speakers.
Children first encounter the world of numbers through stories, musical rhythms and artistic activities, before gaining skills in abstract reasoning. They practice mental math and discover geometry in themselves and the world. Upon entering middle school, they have developed the skills and the confidence in math to advance through algebra.
Music permeates life in a Waldorf School. Beginning in the first grade all students receive education in vocal and instrumental music, both in dedicated classes and in activities integrated into the study of academic subjects.
Fine and Practical Arts
Students learn to knit, crochet, embroider and sew, model with clay and work with wood. Painting and drawing are integrated into the entire academic curriculum, including mathematics and the sciences to bring vitality to learning and promote patience, perseverance and creative thinking.
Spatial awareness, strength and coordination, healthy social interaction and cooperation, and a joy in movement are the goals of the classes in physical education.
For an outline of the Waldorf curriculum by grade, please click here.
Waldorf unlocks the beauty, the mystery and the romance of the world in such a way, a child can’t help falling in love with it. ~ Marjorie Spock