A Developing Member in the Association of Waldorf Schools of North America
Serving Children From Early Childhood Through Eighth Grade
The Waldorf first grade is a bridge between kindergarten and the lower school—in fact, the kindergarten students go through a lovely bridge ceremony to show that they are moving from Early Childhood into First Grade.
The first grade curriculum provides a context out of which language arts and math learning grow. It awakens capacities of memory and thinking. At this time in the first grade students’ lives, retaining content is less important than what content and form of presentation do to the children in terms of body growth, physical health and moral development.
History: Fairy tales, folk tales and nature stories cultivate imagination and awareness of environment and world.
Literature: Language is expressive in vocabulary, poems with strong rhythms. Fairy tales imagery gives way to reality of ideas and relationships.
Geography: Wonders through observations of nature.
English and Grammar: Writing and reading evolve out of oral tradition. Instead of abstract symbols, the introduction of letters is as actual characters with which the children have a real relationship. Fairy tales and stories introduce each letter. In addition,straight and curved lines are observed in body, classroom, and world and practice through walking and drawing in air, sand, blackboard, and paper. Form drawings train motor skills, awaken powers of observation, and create a foundation for letters. Speech exercises, short plays, and class play are included each year.
Science: Stories from nature build awareness of and sensitivity to their surroundings and they are introduced to the kingdoms of nature through storytelling. Also, the children go outside twice a day to maintain a close connection to seasons and environment.
Mathematics: The children are introduced to whole numbers to 100. They learn qualities of numbers before learning addition or subtraction. What is oneness? What is there only one of in the world? Stones, acorns, and other natural objects are used to introduce counting. Considerable practical experience in adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing is expected before written symbols are introduced. This qualitative approach stresses the natural experience of the numbers realm. Rhythms, mental arithmetic, Roman numerals, and number riddles reinforce skills.
Music: The children learn the pentatonic scale, in which all notes have a harmonious sound in any order they are played. Songs are based on seasonal themes. Playing the pentatonic flute develops finger coordination, concentration and breath control.
Artistic work: When painting, the children experience working with color, not creating formed pictures. Children imitate teacher’s work, drawing whole shapes, not filling in outlines. Feeling for form is encouraged through beeswax modeling and crayon illustrations. Form drawing, painting, beeswax modeling, knitting are also practiced.
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