In the elementary years, Waldorf makes lively use of a time-honored practice: teaching children through stories that recount the deeds of heroes, the qualities of animals, the history of a people, cultural wisdom and spiritual truths. Stories also promote solid learning in every academic subject from the alphabet and basic arithmetic through zoology and Greek history.
First grade is the commencement of formal schooling marked by children's new interest in learning. Students establish good habits of classroom life and work that will form the basis for all subsequent learning at school. The students and teacher build the foundation for an ever-deepening relationship while forming a socially cohesive group during this special year of beginnings.
Grade One Pedagogical Overview
Lines & Curves
First Grade is the commencement of formal schooling marked by the child's awakening capacities of memory and thinking. The seven-year-old retains a feeling of oneness with the world, and is more able to bring broad awareness than focused concentration to learning situations. Much learning therefore involves the presentation of an image to the child, ensuring her understanding through her own mental picturing. This leads to a pictorial approach in the teaching of all subjects.
The rhythm of working together as a class is established during this year, and the students are introduced to all areas of school life. The students are eager to learn together and take their place within the large whole. As new habits are formed, a foundation is being laid for healthy social interaction. Through the teacher's authority and presence, a sense of reverence, respect, and wonder permeates the mood in the classroom.
Throughout the first grade year, the academic tasks of reading, writing and arithmetic are embedded in the rich world of fairy tales. The archetypal pictures found within the fairy tales engage the child's fantasy in the subject matter that they encounter throughout the year. Through these richly crafted stories, the children are introduced to speaking, writing, reading, and mathematics. All skills are reinforced with practice involving rhythmical movement, recitation and music. Bookwork is illustrated with pictures that reinforce the concepts being developed. Each lesson aims to incorporate a three-fold structure, which fosters the development of the children's feelings, thinking abilities, and will forces.