In Lower School, the class teacher carries students through Grades 1-8,
developing a close relationship with not only each child but the class as a social organism. The class teacher guides the class through the day, week, and years together, as well as holding the morning Main Lesson, a two-hour class period dedicated to a rotating schedule of English, math, history, sciences. During each Main Lesson block, students create a handwritten, illustrated comprehensive study of the topic – a Main Lesson book. As the students grow, their education is enriched by specialty teachers in Spanish and German, vocal and instrumental music, physical education, handwork, woodwork and eurythmy. Each grade in the Lower School is taught from a curriculum that comes from an intimate knowledge of child development.
In 1st Grade, children enter the classroom eager to learn and grow. Sitting at their desks, they listen to fairy tales and nature stories, draw letters and numbers, learn letter sounds and combinations. These decoding activities, built upon the rich oral storytelling of the early childhood years, provide strong foundations for reading, writing and vocabulary. 1st Grade math is a subject on the go! Movement accompanies the introduction and practice of all four arithmetic processes. They learn songs and poems in Spanish and German by ear, begin to develop spatial awareness through eurythmy, and train their fingers to knit and play the wooden flute. Learning is a tangible activity that engages their entire being through experience and imagination.
2nd Grade curriculum mirrors the inner experience of the child. The highest human ideals (through stories of saints and other exemplary human beings) are contrasted with the trickster animals in fables, allowing a sense of human morality to develop. Students illustrate these stories as their reading and writing skills strengthen, and they learn their cursive letters and explore symmetry form drawing. 2nd Grade counting games lead to working with place value, times tables and more complex arithmetic.
In 3rd Grade a significant change occurs in the way children experience themselves and the world. The foundations that naturally carry them fall away and the children experience their first real sense that they are an individual. Study of the Hebrew stories, from the expulsion from the garden to the trials of the Hebrew people mirror outwardly the inner experience of the 3rd grader. Responsibility for the campus garden; study of farming, cooking, fibers, clothing and shelter; and an overnight trip to a local farm bring the curriculum to life. Measurements for building and cooking lend math a practical lens, and students learn to crochet a practical hat and a pouch. While daily music continues in the classroom, third graders officially join our music program, beginning with two class periods each week as students are introduced to the lyre and then the violin.
4th Grade is a year of adventure. Students delve into the heroic tales of Norse mythology, and explore the journey of the Oregon Trail pioneers and the indigenous peoples of the area. Science study begins with the animal kingdom, often the subject of a much-anticipated research report. Fractions are introduced in math, and studies in English explore grammar and parts of speech as other means of dividing up the metaphorical pie. Students continue and expand their music study by choosing to further their relationship with the violin, or try a different stringed instrument — cello or viola — instead. Themes of division and fractions are echoed in form drawing, where students create patterns in a four-way mirror, in the same way that they design their own unique cross stitch piece in handwork class.
5th Grade students are perched in an age of developmental balance between the wonder of early childhood and the internal focus of the middle school years. A change in the daily morning verse reflects a shift from an external experience (“The sun with loving light makes bright for me each day”) to an individual action (“I look into the world, in which the sun is shining”) as teachers encourage confidence and the beginning of independent academic thinking. They study history for the first time as an academic discipline rather than a collection of stories, beginning with ancient India, Persia, and Egypt, and culminating in ancient Greece, itself a culture of balance and harmony. To compliment these academic classes, foreign language includes a block in Ancient Greek, while in physical education the students learn the skills of the ancient pentathalon and then participate in a Greek Olympiad. The study of geography expands from state to nation, and the 5th grade harmony is further reflected in artistic geometry. Subject classes in choral music teach vocal harmony, and the study of botany deepens scientific observation and inquiry skills.
In 6th Grade, students tend to be inwardly focused, entering middle school and the self-consciousness of puberty. They are encouraged to carefully observe before jumping to conclusions, and they lend that observation to the study of physics, geology and astronomy. They move on in history to the rise and fall of the Roman Empire, and the Middle Ages. The growth and decline of empires introduces the beginning of a study of world geography that continues throughout middle school. Medieval Europe brings the concept of chivalry, and a conscious morality that culminates in another inter-Waldorf athletic event, the Medieval Games, an event held with a spirit of honor, sportsmanship, and ethical conduct. Further academic expansion happens in geography, mathematics, and music, where students are offered the opportunity to switch from their stringed instrument to the study of a band instrument.
7th Graders experience a rapid expansion of academic capability and curiosity, reflected in the curriculum focus on the Renaissance. Social, artistic, and scientific developments of the period as well as biographies of individual explorers, inventors, and artists and thinkers fuel the students’ internal Age of Discovery. Perspective and geometric drawing feed artistic impulses, while study of mechanics, inorganic chemistry, nutrition and physiology echo the great leaps in understanding of human beings and the world during the Renaissance era. Mathematics moves into the conceptual realm of negative numbers, square roots and ratios, and creative writing paves another avenue for self-expression and discovery.
In 8th Grade, we study Revolutions. In a culminating year before high school, students move into a study of modern history with the American, French, and Industrial Revolutions, and on into the 20th century. Review and expansion of sciences includes meteorology, physiology, physics, and organic chemistry. Students prepare for high school mathematics in algebra and geometry, while handwork and woodwork classes introduce the exciting use of sewing machines and power tools. The class continues their education in movement, music, eurythmy, foreign language. In addition, each individual student proposes and carries out an extensive independent research project with written, oral, and physical components. The class celebrates the end of their 8-year journey together with their teacher with an 8th Grade trip – active time spent together as they stand ready for the transition to High School.
“Grasshopper Grove” Grades Aftercare
The Grades Aftercare program provides children in the Lower School with a space to relax into outdoor free play, guided indoor activities and seasonal crafts, and a story time. A healthy snack is provided and as a group we gather to eat around the table together. Children of different ages spend this relaxing time outdoors and indoors, learning to interact with friends at different stages of social and moral development. Find more information on the Aftercare page.