The school day begins with a long, uninterrupted main lesson, as children are freshest for academic work in the morning. Main lesson topics include language arts, science, math, history or geography and are taught in blocks of three to five weeks. This main lesson allows the teacher to develop a wide variety of activities around the subject at hand. In the younger grades, lively rhythmic activities get the circulation going and bring children together as a group; they recite poems connected with the main lesson, practice tongue twisters to limber up speech, and work with concentration exercises using body movements. After the day’s lesson, students record what they learned in their lesson books.
Following recess, teachers present shorter lessons, including foreign languages, drama, art, gardening, poetry, movement, music and Eurythmy. Knitting, crocheting, needlework, weaving, sewing and other handcrafts are introduced in an exciting progression as the childrens’ abilities develop. Thus the day has a rhythm that helps overcome fatigue and enhances balanced learning.
All students participate in all these subjects regardless of their special aptitudes. The purpose of studying a subject is to awaken and educate capacities that every human being needs. Each subject studied should contribute to the development of a well-balanced individual.
The Waldorf main lesson curriculum is traditionally taught to each grade individually, SSWS’s combined-grade classes group two ages – eight and nine year olds, for example – in each classroom.
“It encouraged me to always strive to become a better human being.”
Far from merely a necessity, there is much to celebrate about the combined grades model. Combined-grade classrooms allow SSWS classes to develop sensitivity to group work, varieties of friendships, and an appreciation for a differentiation of tasks and expectations based on each student’s unique learning journey.
This demands alertness in the teacher, movement against complacency in curriculum, and flexibility in block design. There is no universal formula that all teachers use to adjust the schedule, but every SSWS teacher consciously works to meet both age groups within his/her class and plans each year accordingly.
Waldorf Education places the development of the individual child in the focal point.
The healthy individual is a prerequisite for a healthy society.