The elementary school years provide a balance of movement and learning activities that support the healthy development of the whole child, head, heart and hand. Rich story-telling is done at each grade level to provide food for the imagination in whatever literature and history blocks are prescribed in Waldorf education for that grade level. Fairy Tales in the first grade give children a basis for reading comprehension as they also begin to learn the logistics of reading: phonemic awareness, phonics, word families etc. In second grade, students learn fables from around the world, as well as stories of heroes who have transformed their animal nature into service to humanity. Such foundations provide students with values we hold dear in our community, as well as rich and imaginative mental pictures–the ability of which is an essential standard for development of comprehension in reading.
Second and Third grade students enjoy stories of native peoples from around the world and are able to compare them–developing a sense of appreciation for different cultures. Foundations in math are laid for measurement, time and money–leading to activities where these concepts can be put into practice. Math facts are learned along with mathematical thinking that is age appropriate for each grade level.
Fourth grade studies Norse Myths and such science studies as Human & Animal. They delight in the stories of Thor, Odin and the mischievous Loki. Through such stories, children’s sense of right and wrong is developed without moralizing or lecturing. Students learn to draw complicated Norse braided forms and use them in their main lesson books. Fractions are studied in depth during this year, as are problem-solving strategies. Flexibility of thinking is a goal of Waldorf education, so there may be many ways to solve a division problem for instance.
In fifth grade, students study ancient cultures such as Egypt, Mesopotamia, and India. Through in-depth study of Greek Mythology and History, students understand the tremendous influence Greece had on societies today. They will undoubtedly do a play from this time period for the community–utilizing their speech work and creative capacity for performance. All grades do class plays each year. The fifth grade year culminates in the spring with the Pentathlon, held at Mountain Phoenix and attended by various charter schools from around Colorado and other states. Science study includes Botany and others that will be articulated in the Science Scope & Sequence for MPCS.
Reading begins with building capacity for comprehension in the preschool and kindergarten classes and slowly introduces reading through writing in the first grade–leading to understanding of word families and simple sentences. For students who come to first grade knowing how to read already, slowing down and beautifying their writing is challenging and interests these students. Opportunities to read at their individual levels are provided during the school day. Students who are not demonstrating adequate progress in reading are supported and monitored for intervention. We realize students demonstrate reading readiness at different stages and hence keep a watchful eye should a child need more support and when that would be beneficial.
Math is introduced more quickly in the Waldorf pedagogy. All four processes are introduced in age-appropriate ways through stories and story problems in the first grade. Math standards are taught in main lesson blocks that align with Waldorf foundations and are practiced in math skills periods later in the day.
Geography is taught in all grade levels, beginning from where they child is and moving outward eventually to the greater world of continents, cultures, map-making and geographic terms. Waldorf education aspires to help the child understand themselves in relation to the world in which they live.
Science is taught throughout the grades–beginning with nature walks where students discover the beauties of nature–plants, animals, flora and fauna. Wonder & awe for the world of nature is inspired through stories and use of the nature table in each classroom. As the children grow through the grades, they will learn about all forms of science–earth, astronomy, physics, chemistries, magnetism, optics, color, botany and biology. Sixth grade is particularly infused with science studies. At this grade level, students are able to understand the concepts that explain each observational science block. Students are taught to think flexibly within the scientific realms to allow them to find solutions to tomorrow’s problems.
Histories cover time periods from ancient to modern times throughout the grades. A sense of time is developed through rich biographies of famous people who formed societies and made contributions to the development of the world. Such histories are aligned with the development of the child. Opportunities for non-fiction reading from a multitude of sources are fostered within these studies of history. Literature and book circles are used to enhance students’ experience of history and culture.
For students who are below grade level in skills classes such as reading, writing and math–students are broken into smaller groups to receive intervention at their individual levels in these subjects. Our team of interventionists (wizards) are there to work magic at each level for students whether they be advanced or below grade level.
MPCS is dedicated to bringing students the joy of learning through our integrated approach. School should not be stressful, but students are asked to develop a healthy balance of thinking, feeling and willing as they progress through the grades. Each child should feel challenged to stretch their learning and accomplish short term goals. Homework is given in stages as children develop the capacity for handling learning after school as well as during the day. The Homework Policy is available for viewing and will be communicated to all families in the Parent Handbook. It is not the school’s philosophy to give mountains of homework for homework’s sake. We provide spelling and vocabulary work consistently to establish study rhythms, but creating more stress for families and children is avoided. Rather, meaningful projects are given in addition to simple weekly activities such as reading for 20 minutes per night during week days. Developing proficiency in reading takes practice, hence parents are asked to provide this time in the rhythm of their child’s evening rituals. Math practice for students who need more support is essential as homework for some students. When it is not appropriate, challenge problems or activities are given in math in grade 3 and up. It is the hope of the school that parents will enjoy the projects that may take some time at home to create. Generally, a sharing of these creations is done in a presentation format in the regular classroom and sometimes for the greater community.
For further reading, please click the link below:
“Pupils make more progress in 3Rs ‘without aid of computers’“ …by John Clare, Education Ed.