Waldorf’s rich and varied curriculum includes rigorous academic work as well as rich artistic experiences, all of which are appropriate to the age of the child. This fully integrated approach to education engages the child’s “head, heart and hands,” in other words, Waldorf education sets out to educate the child’s intellect, psychological/emotional well being, and physical well being simultaneously. Waldorf schools invest in human development, not simply brain development.
The question behind the teaching methods of most schools is: How can the child accumulate the most information possible at the earliest age possible? Waldorf does not come from this mindset.
All children grow through predictable developmental phases and Waldorf works with these natural phases, maximizing the learning process at every step.
City of Lakes Waldorf school is part of a global community of Waldorf teachers and child development professionals who have come together for the purpose of educating, supporting and inspiring children. With 90 years of proven curriculum experience, Waldorf has nearly 2500 schools and kindergartens in over 60 countries. Over 94% of North American Waldorf graduates gain admission to a post-secondary school of their choice; 50% go on to a Masters Degree or PhD. View more Waldorf graduate statistics here.
City of Lakes Waldorf School is fully accredited by the Association of Waldorf Schools of North America (AWSNA) and the North Central Association: Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement (NCA – CAIS).
The cornerstone of the Waldorf elementary school is the class teacher, who accompanies the children through several, and ideally, all eight grades. Children build genuine human relationships with their teacher, and the respect, trust and love that develop between teacher and student offer the security and support each child needs as a foundation to develop his or her potential.
In addition, specialty teachers focus on subject areas such as Spanish and Mandarin, handwork, woodwork, choral and ensemble music, visual arts, movement and more.
The main lesson, a two-hour period in which the main subject of the day is presented, begins each school day. Students study the language arts, mathematics, history, and the sciences in alternating highly integrated three- to four-week main lesson blocks. Topics are revisited during the term and core subjects needing constant practice, such as language and math, are also taught regularly in shorter periods.
This approach allows for freshness and enthusiasm and a concentrated and in-depth experience as well as providing students time to process and retain what has been learned. Because students are encouraged to be completely immersed in their main lesson, their creative forces are fully engaged and intellectual understanding is merged with experience.
During the rest of the school day, specialty teachers provide instruction in such areas as music and the arts, world languages, handcraft, and athletics, but it is the class teacher who remains a unifying and harmonizing figure for the students’ educational experience.
Each student creates her or his own main lesson books over the course of the year, which is a particularly powerful tool for integrating the various subjects and internalizing and retaining the learning. Main lesson books are special books with compositions, observations, diagrams, and illustrations. The main lesson books are a way for students to engage personally with each subject and truly take ownership of the educational experience.
This begins with a multicultural literary base, which takes the children through the full sweep of human cultural heritage, as well as the social sciences and geography. The stories and history presented in the curriculum closely parallel the development of human consciousness through the ages, beginning in first grade with the classic fairy tales that symbolize the archetypes of pre-literate, oral cultures, moving through myths and sagas of ancient societies to the stuff of history.
Because Waldorf pedagogy recognizes that grade school students engage most deeply when immersed in richly detailed story, teachers select both primary sources as well as selections from classic literature as their texts. Literature spans every continent and culture and includes the stories of legendary exemplars of humanity: the ancient Hebrew people; Norse, Egyptian and Greek myths; African and Native American legends and folktales; Asian cultural figures and wisdom; Alexander the Great; Joan of Arc; the Renaissance masters; and world revolutions. Students are immersed in these cultures and thus gain great appreciation for multicultural diversity around the world.
Science begins with nature study, including observation and field experience in the early grades. First, second, and third graders develop an intuitive and reverential respect for the earth as they spend time outside throughout the seasons playing, gardening and simply being in nature.
Classes then move to more challenging subjects such as geology, zoology, botany, chemistry, physics, astronomy, ecological literacy, and physiology in grades four through eight. In the upper grades the sciences are taught experientially – that is, the teacher sets up an experiment, calls upon the children to observe carefully, ponder, discuss, and then allows them to discover the underlying conclusion, law, or formula. Through this process, independent critical thinking, sound disciplined judgment and a respect for the natural world results.
In the early grades arithmetic is taught through a dynamic process engaging the child’s imagination and intuition combined with kinesthetic activities and games utilizing rhythmic patterns to explore the four processes of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. The children are introduced to freehand geometry through form drawing. In the later grades the children work with weights and measures, fractions and decimals, and later, algebra and geometric constructions. Sixth grade marks a significant transition to mathematics as students move away from the mechanics of manipulating numbers to gaining insights into what is solvable. While work continues with fractions and decimals, students are introduced to business math, geometry with compass and straight edge, and exploration of the golden ratio (phi).
Letters are learned in the same way they originated in the course of human history. Humans perceived, then pictured, and out of the pictures they abstracted signs and symbols. First graders hear stories, draw pictures, and discover the letter in the gesture of the picture. Throughout the grade school, children do much phonetic work in the form of songs, poems, and games in addition to the more traditional speech and drama. This multi-faceted approach helps establish a joyful and living experience of the language. Additionally, texts from world literature provide material for reading as well as a foundation for the study and acquisition of grammar skills.
The Language Arts curriculum moves from the mechanics of learning to read to honing comprehension skills to creative writing. Letters and their sounds emerge from stories so that the “abstract symbol” has context and meaning. Comprehension is exercised through oral retelling of stories as well as by learning to write paragraphs and essays. Students’ ability to pay meticulous attention to rich, sequential detail serves them well as they venture off into their own creative writing in later grades.