Developmental Picture of the Child
As they leave the dreamy mood of Early Childhood, students in Grade One begin to awaken to the world around them, experiencing it still as a unity, but ready to learn in a new way. They are developing independent and pictorial thinking, eager to bring focused concentration to learning.
How the Curriculum Meets the Grade One Student
The curriculum provides rich imaginative pictures and activities, which lay the groundwork for future critical and conceptual thinking. Each new concept is presented artistically through movement activities and stories, drawings, drama, music, or poetry, thus engaging children with varied learning styles (ranging from those who benefit from a multi-sensory approach to children who are already coming with academic skills). The curriculum is also built on daily routines that provide form, structure, rhythm, and a sense of security: the calendar and its festivals; the monthly change of main lesson blocks; balance in the lessons between quiet focus and active movement; the day rhythm of main lessons, subject lessons, snack and lunch periods, and time outdoors.
“Reverence for children and childhood requires you to stand back, look at the world, and remember what the children just know instinctively – that there is magic and wonder, and that life is beautiful.”
Class Teacher, London Waldorf School
Importance of Movement
Every day includes a variety of movement activities as our movements facilitate greater cognitive function; our entire brain structure is intimately connected to and grown by the movement mechanisms within our body. The healthy functioning of the senses, particularly the sense of self-movement (or proprioception), sense of life (or well-being), and balance (or vestibular). is paramount to learning. When one of these is not fully functioning or developing, learning cannot take place to its highest capacity.
To develop numeracy skills, students first experience numbers through stories that characterize their qualities and functions. For example, there is one sun; day and night are two; characters gather to add and share to divide. Mathematics is further supported through lively rhythmic activities that engage the child’s whole body, not just the head, while counting and reciting number facts.
Folk tales and nature stories from around the world present the children with archetypes of the human being and with examples of our relationship to the earth. These stories can have a positive influence on young children’s emotional intelligence and social development. Through these stories and chalkboard drawing they are also introduced to the letters of the alphabet. In this way the letters become familiar characters that engage the students’ imagination and strengthen memory. They practice sound and symbol relationships and begin writing short sentences, preparing them with the skills necessary for the transition into reading.
Nature studies and social studies are seamlessly integrated into language arts blocks. Through the content of the stories, a foundation is laid for future work in biology, zoology, geology, social studies, and history in an imaginative rather than abstract way.
The timetable also includes two contrasting secondary languages, music (singing and recorder playing), arts (watercolour painting, drawing, form drawing), practical arts (handwork, crafts,) activities in nature, and games.