Our school year begins with the ‘Rose Ceremony’ during which the Grade 6 class welcomes the new Grade 1 into the grade school community. The transition from Kindergarten to more structured learning in Grade 1 is an important step for students who are excited to join ‘the big school.’ This ceremony marks this passage from Kindergarten to Lower School.
Grade 1 students are eager to bond with their teacher and to be taught. They begin to experience a sense of individuality that gives them new capacities for learning and socializing; the challenges of the Grade 1 curriculum build upon these new capacities.
The Grade 1 year is structured around rhythm:
- The calendar and its festivals
- Monthly change of the Main Lesson Block
- The rhythm of the lessons balances quiet focus and active movement
- Each Main Lesson topic has a three-day rhythm; students engage with the same material in different ways over three days.
- Movement activities take advantage of children’s developing bodies to learn and strengthen memory.
- Rhythmic clapping and stamping while reciting times tables engage the child’s whole body, not just the head, to fully understand the concept of times tables and multiplication.
- Movement activities deepen learning and balance children’s natural desires to move with the quiet listening and writing activities of the lesson.
Main Lesson Subjects
- Introduction to the alphabet and writing
- Basic facts to 10
- Introduction to addition, subtraction, multiplication and division
- Fairy tales
- Folk Tales and nature stories – retold and dramatized
French, German, music (singing and recorder playing), Eurythmy (a movement art), watercolour painting, drawing, modelling, knitting, rhythm exercises, form drawing, nature walks, games.
Students’ development continues in Grade 2. Each child has a deeper sense of his or her ability to grow and learn. This confidence comes with bravado and social assertion that sometimes needs to be softened for a healthy social life.
- The curriculum addresses this by presenting fables and stories of ‘saints’ or people who have had a special relationship with animals, e.g., St. Francis and the wolf. The animals in these stories reflect an aspect of our human nature that needs to be ‘tamed,’ and the children find these stories reassuring and inspiring.
- Grade 2 continues to be structured around rhythm:
- The monthly change of the Main Lesson Block
- The rhythm of the lesson balances quiet focus and active movement, as well as thinking and creative work.
- Each Main Lesson topic has a three-day rhythm:
- Day 1: introduce a subject
- Day 2: recall the significant details of the presentation
- Day 3: creating something
- Students engage with the same material in different ways over three days.
- Recitation to build memory skills is central to class work. Hundreds of lines will be learned and retained over the course of the year, from the lines for the class play to the many verses and stories told throughout the year. This capacity for memorization will stand the students in good stead in the academic years ahead.
- Movement and other creative activities continue to foster strong math skills. The movement process grounds the learning in the body, rather than just in the head, deepening knowledge and making it accessible for broader use in later years.
- Field trips in Grade 2 build an understanding of the connection between the children and our environment. They typically include trips to a farm, apple picking, skating field trips and nature walks around the school and beyond. This direct experience of the natural world is an essential base upon which to build future respect for the environment and the importance of sustainability.
Main Lesson Subjects
- Writing (punctuation, syllables, capital letters, writing sentences)
- Early reading skills
- Arithmetic (multiplication tables, work with four processes, including carrying and borrowing)
- Fables, legends and stories of Saints
French, German, music (singing and recorder playing), eurythmy (a movement art), watercolour painting, drawing, modelling, knitting, crocheting, games, form drawing, crafts, nature walks
Grade 3 is typically a time when children go through profound neurological and psychological shifts that occur between 9-10 years of age. We refer to this time as the ‘nine-year change.’
- The Grade 3 curriculum brings a healing element to the psychological uncertainty the child feels at this time by teaching many practical life skills. These skills reassure the children that they will be able to take care of themselves one day.
- The stories in the Hebrew Scriptures reflect the child’s psychological experience. Like Adam and Eve, the children are leaving the paradise of childhood behind and having to go out into the world and discover how to live with other people and with the land.
- The study of gardening and shelters around the world meets the students’ needs to relate how they will make it one day on their own. Farming, gardening, food preparation and house building are a central focus of the curriculum.
- planting and harvesting in the school garden
- the daily collection of compost throughout the school to feed the garden
- baking and canning produce from the garden
- study of shelter through the ages, around the world
- influences of climate, environment
- location and designs of dwelling and sometimes, a small building project
- Measurement and its evolution: taking a measure of the world gives the children the confidence that they can manage it. The learn how to measure – from a day’s journey to the king’s thumb width (which became our ‘inch’ measure!).
- Measuring length, width, weight and volume, charting time and handling money, all are essential skills to possess.
Main Lesson Subjects
- Literacy, basic elements of grammar, the introduction of cursive writing
- Arithmetic (long division & multiplication, add and subtract columns)
- Measurement, time, money
- Farming, gardening and house building
- Hebrew stories and other wonder tales
- Optional class play relating to the curriculum
Reading, French, German, music (notation of rhythm & notes, singing and recorder, rounds), introduction to string instruments, Eurythmy (a movement art), painting, knitting and crocheting (additional skills), games/physical education, form and geometric drawing, farming and gardening.
Grade 4 students often display self-assurance and the sense that they have ‘arrived.’ New privileges such as the right to be on the playing field with students from the older grades. The forest playground remains a popular play location with swings, sand area and climbing structure; students often enjoy the feeling of their speed, strength and agility.
- Focus on group activities draws the class together as a social whole: plays, movement lessons, games, stage performances and the ‘week in residence’ at Black Creek Pioneer Village all support this end.
- Students need a great deal of form to meet school tasks, both academic and otherwise. Self-discipline and healthy work habits are developed at this age, often through spelling words and vocabulary lists in French or German.
- Increasing objectivity permeates the curriculum, such as the first overt science study: the study of the self and observation of similarities, differences and relationships between the human being and animals. This study is extended through painting, modelling, play acting and poetry recitation.
- Geography study starts with the local area and its geographical characteristics. The class studies the lives of the First Nations people before the arrival of Europeans, the effect of their arrival, intermingling between the peoples locally and the history of settlement in Kelowna.
Main Lesson Subjects
- Arithmetic (fractions)
- Reading, grammar, spelling, composition, dramatization
- Local geography and history
- Norse mythology and sagas
- Study of humans and animals
- Optional class play
French and German grammar and reading, music (songs in parts, tenor and alto recorders) stringed instruments continued Eurythmy (a movement art), painting, embroidery, hand sewing and cross-stitch, physical education, form drawing, gardening.
The Grade Five student is balanced; physical development and academic ability are both strong and stable, before the coming changes in adolescence. Most students have good learning habits and can begin more detailed independent work.
- The study of ancient cultures leverages the students’ expanding academic capacities. Students experience the contributions of India, Persia, Mesopotamia, Egypt and Greece to our understanding of the world. This year marks the change from pre-history and mythic representations to formal Western History (classical Greeks).
- The Study of Ancient Greece is undertaken by the re-enactment of the Greek Olympic Games. A day of competitions in the pentathlon, discus, javelin, wrestling, long jump and running are all conducted with a mood of reverence and striving for beauty. This event brings together students from many Waldorf schools and is very significant in the Grade 5 calendar.
- Grade 5 study of botany is ideally suited to the grounds of KWS with an opportunity to observe plants directly in their natural habitat. Nature walks and sketching different varieties of trees and plants outdoors in their natural setting are part of the lessons.
Main Lesson Subjects
- English composition, grammar, spelling, reading and plays
- Canadian geography
- India, Persia, Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece
- Decimals, fractions and freehand geometry
French, German, music (four-part recorder, singing, strings and winds ensembles), Eurythmy (a movement art), knitting with four needles, woodwork (carving), clay modelling, painting, physical education (traditional Greek Pentathlon events, team sports skills, fitness)
Grade 6 students demonstrate a wide range of signs of puberty and adolescence. Some have lengthening limbs and faces and become awkward and self-consciousness as they work to regain control of their changing bodies.
- Study of the ‘physical body’ of the earth, geology and mineralogy, matches the students’ experiences of changes in their bodies.
- Science study flows from observation of the phenomena such as sound, light, heat, magnetism and static electricity. Students move from observation to a basic understanding of how it works and exists in the world around them. This understanding is expanded to how technology and machines operate in our society.
- Astronomy also begins by observing the phenomena, the constellations in the sky, the movement of the stars, planets and our moon. The study is supported by poems and quotations on astronomical themes as well.
- History offers a view of the Romans and their control over the physical world with aqueducts, roads and cities. The students are led to understand how the strength and excesses of the Romans led to destruction (native cultures, and eventually the Roman Empire itself). This lays the base for an understanding of the order of Medieval societies (feudal society, monasteries etc.)
- Special events in Grade Six may include:
- camping trips (often to study geology or astronomy),
- a class play related to the themes of the year
- building a ‘haunted house’ for 5th graders at Hallowe’en
- the Medieval Games and Feast Day to extend the experience of the Middle Ages Main lesson
Main Lesson Subjects
- English composition, grammar, spelling, literature, drama
- Geography of the Americas or Europe and Africa
- Troy, Rome, the Crusades, Medieval Society
- Arthurian legends (1400-1700)
- Business math, geometry, percent
- Physics (sound, light and colour, heat, magnetism, static electricity), minerals and geology, Geocentric astronomy.
French, German, music (four-part recorder, singing strings and winds ensembles), eurythmy (a movement art), knitting on four needles and other needlework, painting, physical education (team sports), gardening