Waldorf Education and the Grades Curriculum
The academic program at The Waldorf School of Mendocino County places an emphasis on a wide spectrum of student growth and development. Small class sizes and exceptional, qualified teachers allow us to offer a comfortable and inclusive educational environment, while ensuring each student receives the individualized attention and support they need.
The grade school years are critical in children’s intellectual and emotional development because so much is learned through the senses, the feelings, and the imagination. With this idea in mind, the Waldorf Grades curriculum combines academic and artistic experiences that engage a child’s head, heart, and hands. Handwork projects, such as knitting, modeling, and wood carving are basic elements of the curriculum that improve motor and intellectual skills while raising the children’s concentration, self-confidence, patience, and self-expression.
Each grade advances a special curriculum designed to deliver a developmentally appropriate academic challenge that is carefully integrated with academics, work in the arts, and extensive time spent in nature. As children progress developmentally, the curriculum transforms to meet their changing inner requirements.
Our aim is to provide a curriculum that will educate children in a supportive, creative manner and send them forth as compassionate, emotionally healthy, and confident individuals.
THE GRADES 1 -8 | CURRICULUM
Unique Aspects of Waldorf Education
One of the greatest strengths of a Waldorf education is the class teacher. In First Grade, children meet the teacher who often remains with the class for up to eight years. The formal welcoming of the First Grade class at the Rose Ceremony begins the teacher’s personal commitment to oversee the academic development and personal growth of each child in a mentor-pupil relationship. This long-term relationship supports a rich social dynamic in the classroom and affords the teacher a deep understanding of each student’s strengths, challenges, and developmental milestones. Because children learn and grow under the guidance of the same adult, the classroom atmosphere is one of familial comfort and trust.
In Waldorf education, each day begins with Main Lesson, a two-hour period where core academic subjects (Math, Language Arts, Science, Social Science) are interwoven with art, music, and movement to deliver a holistic learning experience.
MEDIA & TECHNOLOGY
Waldorf education promotes a thoughtful and age appropriate use of technology; supporting students in middle school with awareness around social media and technology and incorporating the use of computers and other electronic devices before they transition to high school. Children in the lower grades, with limited exposure to media, develop better concentration, critical thinking, and retention of the subject matter. Learn More
Core academic curriculum is presented in-depth over four to six-week periods. Students concentrate on the exploration of a particular subject (such as botany, ancient civilizations, fractions, chemistry, local history) through lectures, stories, music, movement, and written and artistic projects. Immersed in the subject students are able to gain deeper understanding and fuller perspective of the topic.
Waldorf students create their own textbooks based on the information presented during Main Lesson and research done on their own. These Main Lesson books are fashioned with care, handwritten in cursive and illustrated. These are a beautiful representation of subjects learned.
GRADES 1 - 8 SPECIFIC
In 2015 WSMC adopted a combined grades model. Over the past five years our model has been refined and clarified.
The top class begins the journey on their own, in 1st grade. The next year the rising 1st grade will join them creating a 1st and 2nd combined class. The class will then move together, with their teacher, through the grades. When they reach the 7th and 8th grade year, the top class will graduate and leave the raising 8th grade their final year on their own.
Students receive a full year of each grade’s curriculum beginning in January and ending in December. For example, in Class 3 and 4, fourth grade curriculum begins in January and ends the following year in Class 4 and 5, September through December.
Care is taken, that whenever possible, core academic concepts are introduced in the first half of the combined grade (January-June). The concepts are then consolidated and developed in the second half of the combined year (September- December). Only one main lesson is taught to the students.