In Waldorf school’s primary education may begin when the child is nearing or already seven years of age. The primary school centres around a multi-disciplinary art-based curriculum that includes visual arts, drama, vocal and instrumental music, crafts, and when possible, artistic movement (eurhythmy). Throughout the primary years, concepts are first introduced through stories and images, and academic instruction is integrated with the visual and plastic arts (using materials that can be moulded in some way, usually bees wax), music and movement. There is little reliance on standardized textbooks; instead, each child creates his or her own illustrated summary of coursework in book form.
The school day generally starts with a two-hour academic lesson that focuses on a single theme over the course of about a month’s time and generally begins with an introduction that may include singing, instrumental music, recitations of poetry, including a verse written by Steiner for the start of a school day, and practice in mathematics and language arts.An objective of most Waldorf schools is to have a single teacher remain with a class throughout the primary school years, teaching at least the principal academic lessons; Waldorf teachers have been cited for their level of personal commitment to their pupils.Waldorf teachers use the concept of the four temperaments to help interpret, understand and relate to the behaviour and personalities of children under their tutelage. The temperaments, choleric, phlegmatic, melancholic, and sanguine, are thought to express four basic personality types, each possessing its own fundamental way of regarding and interacting with the world
Individual Variations of
Waldorf primary education allows for individual variations in the pace of learning, based upon the expectation that a child will grasp a concept or achieve a skill when he or she is ready. Cooperation takes priority over competition. Some aspects of our methodology differ from those of main stream education:
Writing and Reading
Our children are taught to write before they are taught to read. Letters are introduced as artistic forms drawn from archetypal fairy tales. The child therefore progresses from a picture to a hieroglyph to an abstract letter giving a deeper meaning to the written word and therefore making reading a cogent progression.
The language of Numbers
Arithmetic is the language of numbers, a universal language which leads the child from playing to thinking. Arithmetic concepts are learned as doors that open in an age specific sequence and this is why the initial encounters with numbers in the Foundation Phase, Classes One to Three, are so important. In these years, numbers are presented to the children through stories such as, “The Three Little Pigs”, “The Seven Little Goats”, “The Six Swans”, giving quality to numbers. In later years the children connect to the enigma of Seven in the Old Testament and in Grecian Mythology, and the strength and fortitude of Twelve in Ancient Rome. Counting and tables are learned through rhythmic movement, rhyme and song. The Four Operations are introduced with four individual, hand knitted puppets, each with a story and status characterizing their particular operation. The Four Operations are then organically learned and exercised using beans, beads, shells, pebbles or buttons. Mental Arithmetic is practiced daily from Class One to Class Seven in Circle time and incorporated into simple games and exercises.
Form drawing is a core subject in the Waldorf Curriculum and a crucial foundational link to Geometry and Perspective Geometry which are introduced in the Middle School. It serves as a preparation for handwriting, i.e. print and cursive.