Academic work begins in first grade, when the child is developmentally ready to begin the journey out of the magical realm of early childhood. The grades program is comprehensive and covers a classical curriculum in an imaginative and personal way that seeks to meet the children’s growing capacities physically, emotionally, spiritually, and academically. The Micha-el School’s grade school includes the full Waldorf curriculum of traditional academic subjects as well as music, eurythmy, handwork, games, and two foreign languages- German and Spanish. The following is an abbreviated curriculum outline by grade.
* Fairy tales, folk tales, nature stories
* Pictorial and phonetic introduction to letters, form drawing, reading approached through writing
* Qualities of numbers, introduction of the four processes in arithmetic, lower multiplication tables
* Legends and animal fables
* Reading, spelling, writing, elements of grammar
* Arithmetic, multiplication tables, further work with the processes
* Old Testament stories that introduce history and creation
* Study of practical life, farming, house building and clothing
* Reading, writing, original compositions, grammar, punctuation and parts of speech, cursive writing
* Higher multiplication tables, weights and measures, time and money
* Grammar, letter writing, spelling, composition
* Arithmetic, fractions
* Local geography and history
* Study of humans and animals
* Telling of Norse myths and sagas
Greek myths, history, and culture, history of ancient civilizations, freehand geometry, North American geography, composition, grammar, spelling and reading, decimals, study of the plant world, Greek language.
Roman and medieval history, Central and South American geography, geology, physics, composition, grammar, spelling, and artistic geometry with instruments.
Voyages of discovery, the Renaissance, world geography, physics, physiology, astronomy, chemistry, composition, grammar, spelling, arithmetic, and introduction to algebra.
History: It is vitally important that the students have a clear picture of history to present day before leaving the 8th grade. Therefore, the curriculum for 8th grade starts at the Renaissance and continues to the present day, including the emergence of ideals of human freedom leading to American, French, and Russian revolutions and how those ideals manifested differently in each nation. Students hold debates over the differing points of view held by the British and colonists during the American War of Independence. They study the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. They discuss moral questions of extreme poverty and wealth and hold conversations about the world of technology, free trade, war and peace. Students may read biographies of such luminaries as Harriet Tubman, Abraham Lincoln, Robert E. Lee, Mahatma Gandhi, and Martin Luther King.
Literature: The literature curriculum includes a range of styles for students to sample: Shakespeare, epic and dramatic poetry, haiku, stories about different peoples of the world, their folklore and poetry, and novels including ‘The Scarlet Pimpernel,’ ‘The Master Puppeteer,’ and ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin.’
Geography: The geography curriculum covers Asia and Africa and Antarctica. World geography emphasizes contrasts and continues the study of maps and their influence on perception of world. The philosophies of Confucianism, Daoism, Buddhism, and Shintoism may be covered.
English and Grammar: Students review previous grammar work, and add subordinate and independent clauses, use of pronouns with stress of pronouns as subjects, objects, proper use of indefinite pronouns, and the use of verb forms, with a focus on infinitives, participles and gerunds. Students review business and practical writing, spelling and vocabulary. They practice compositions as newspaper articles and editorials, with an emphasis on note taking and journaling and oral presentations using weekly news reporting, and write scenes or short plays. The year culminates in a class play, usually Shakespeare or a musical.
Science: In 8th grade, students picture the human as a microcosm of the kingdoms of nature, and in terms of physical science: how the digestive, respiratory, circulatory, and skeletal systems and organs interrelate. The physics curriculum covers hydraulics and pneumatics, electricity and magnetism, aerodynamics, meteorology (understanding of weather). Students discover the mechanical principles that contributed directly to development of modern technological society. In chemistry, laboratory demonstrations and classroom discussions highlight the study of carbohydrates (sugars and starches), oils, fats and proteins in outer nature and in human nourishment. Student analyze organic substances and investigate their role in human nutrition. They also investigate processes by which organic substance are formed (photosynthesis) and are transformed (digestion) and discover how the classic substances of fire, air, earth, and water can be understood and observed in physical processes (various influences that create weather or ocean currents).
Math: The study of algebra continues. Students are introduced to the binary system, which made the development of computers possible. They also move on to principles of solid geometry, constructing the five platonic solids, and studying the spiral, the golden mean, and Euclidean geometry. Finally, the metric system and American system of measurement are compared, particularly the formulae for measuring volume and quadratic equations.
Artistic work: To support the study of solid geometry, students work on exact geometric drawing, solid geometry and 3-dimensional works, theorems, volumes of solids, and lows of loci. They begin to draw in black and white with charcoal, also using bamboo and ink brush for landscape painting and calligraphy. Other handwork includes sewing a piece of clothing, making a stool, carved box, or moveable toy from wood, and sculpting the human head in clay.
Spanish, German, Eurythmy, Handwork, Woodwork, Games & Movement education.
A Note on Variation:
In Waldorf education, teaching is regarded as an art as well as a science. This means that there must be freedom for the teacher to adapt both the form and the content of instruction to time and place in general, to the capacity of the particular children involved and to the qualitative needs of each moment. In this sense, the Waldorf curriculum is created freshly all the time to meet the appropriate developmental stages in a child’s life. The Curriculum is designed to teach all the academic skills while strengthening the child’s moral purpose and artistic sense.
A Note on Grades and Student Evaluations
The Micha-el School does not issue grades or administer standardized tests. Children’s progress, however, is constantly monitored. Parent- teacher conferences are scheduled several times throughout the year. Teachers write lengthy reports about each student at year end.