Lower School Program – Grades 1-5
In the early school years, children learn best when academics are conveyed through artistic media such as painting, drama, music, storytelling, and other direct experiences that stir the emotions. Every detail imaginable contributes consciously to the totality of the Waldorf learning experience: the colors in the classroom, the colored chalk drawings on the blackboard, the rhythms of the lesson and the day, and the way the teacher speaks, moves, and balances humor with seriousness.
Our approach relies upon an interdisciplinary structure within each grade and progressing through the years. Diverse modalities of teaching are integrated to ensure that students encounter a variety of learning styles. As a result, each child is able to comprehend classroom material and find positive areas of self-expression. Long before educational research confirmed the idea of “multiple intelligences,” Steiner understood the need to balance the head, heart, and hands. For example, the Shining Mountain program brings the curriculum to life in these ways:
- Math: Learning the times tables involves movement and discovering the magic patterns of numbers.
- Ancient history: The fifth graders participate in a Greek Pentathlon – throwing the javelin and the discus, wrestling and running – to complement the study of ancient Greece and enliven history and a dynamic culture.
- Modern history: Sewing on treadle sewing machines accompanies the study of the Industrial Revolution, allowing students to feel history in a new, tangible way.
In Grades 1-5 the content of the curriculum builds on what has gone before and unfolds in a way that is interesting and meaningful to the children, because it addresses the developmental changes they are experiencing. This developmental approach is fundamental to a Waldorf curriculum.
All learning is embedded in an artistic context. Drama, handwork, painting, singing, and eurythmy are interwoven with the academics. Steiner found that children of this age learn best when the material engages them at a feeling level; the arts-rich curriculum touches them deeply and enhances memory.
The Class Teacher usually teaches a class of students from Grades 1-5 and works to develop an atmosphere of familiarity and trust. Individual learning takes place in a supportive community environment; each benefits the other.
The Class Teacher instructs the Morning Lesson curriculum, taught from 8:30 to 10:30am each day. Each Morning Lesson block lasts for 3-4 weeks and includes core academic subjects. Following Morning Lesson there are four subject classes per day, each lasting 45 minutes. Subjects taught include: World Languages, Games/P.E., Handwork, Eurythmy, and Instrumental and Choral Music.