The Waldorf curriculum is a living and breathing model that can be differentiated to meet the needs of students and calls upon multiple modalities for instruction so that all types of learners can be successful.
Our district's focus of “providing opportunities for everyone to learn, grow and reach their greatness” is a companion to the Waldorf objective of “…preparing children for meaningful lives in the broadest sense” (Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education/SCOPE). Waldorf schools “focus beyond providing students with specific knowledge and skills to prepare them for college and career, to also preparing children for meaningful lives by developing them physically, socially, artistically, and cognitively for meaningful engagement with the world” (SCOPE).
In the development of the Common Core Standards, SCUSD’s school board approved the reallocation of each standard into specific grade levels that support our view of appropriate childhood development. Although all Common Core Standards at A.M. Winn are taught by grade 8, they are sorted into different grade levels to coincide with Waldorf blocks of study. The teacher provides group and individual assessments, as well as formative and summative assessments are done in portfolio format. SCUSD Waldorf teachers complete an additional 1000 hours of training beyond their accreditation to learn how to properly assess and observe the needs of students.
A.M. Winn Waldorf Curriculum
In the lower grades, students develop oral language by repeating and memorizing poems and stories rich in vocabulary. Students integrate advanced language in songs, puppet plays, role-play and group recitation. In Kindergarten, students experience cumulative stories to increase listening skills and comprehension. Oral language is also advanced during handwork and other practical work when multiple instructions are given and practiced by students.
In all grades, thematic instruction (main lesson subjects) helps students focus on and connect various skills to a central theme. Listening, speaking, writing and reading are all developed in the course of a balanced main lesson.
Shared reading occurs daily in Kindergarten through Second Grade, while small-group or independent reading occurs daily in Grades 2 and 3. Pleasure reading is strongly encouraged. Comprehension is assessed by retelling, drawing, sculpting, performance and additional means of sharing content of the reading.
The Kindergarten is a transition from home to school. Its goals are to help the child master developmental milestones, and to lay a foundation for success in the grades curriculum. Play-based, it provides a rich sensory environment for oral language, artistic and motor activities. These activities include watercolor painting, beeswax modeling, storytelling, puppet shows and acting out fairy tales. Practical activities in the kitchen, garden and classroom encourage the child to imitate work done by adults. These activities serve as preparation for the structured academic curriculum of the grades.
Fairy tales and nature stories are used to introduce the pictorial and phonetic qualities of letters. Reading is approached through writing. Number concepts, form drawing and handwork (knitting) begin. Introduction of the four processes of arithmetic are covered.
Language Arts block include legends and animal fables, stories from inspiration people from around the world and nature stories. Children begin to read and write independently. Mathematics concepts build to include place value of large numbers.
Stories of the Hebrew people introduce history. A large block of practical life (farming, housing, clothing, etc.) is integrated into academic work. Language skills include reading spelling, writing original compositions, grammar, punctuation and parts of speech.
Cursive writing is taught, and crocheting begins. The Mathematics block includes higher multiplication tables, weight, measure and money.
The Language Arts curriculum includes Norse mythology and sagas, composition and letter writing. California history, geography and map-making are covered. Science includes the study of the animal kingdom. Mathematics builds to include fractions.
Waldorf teachers use images and feeling in the stories shared with students. Teachers and students may dramatize stories to add additional interest and context. All content is retold by students, or expressed by students in an artistic way (clay, beeswax, painting and drawing). Content is delivered in a three-day rhythm to ensure enough repetition of new vocabulary and concepts.
Reading comprehension is evaluated by using study questions, summaries, class discussions, artistic representation, dramatization and group presentations.
Student writing is frequent and usually edited for a final copy by the teacher. They sometimes experience peer editing, story sharing and other elements of the writing process. They read pieces to each other to gain a better understanding of grammar, voice and structure. Grammar and conventions are taught constantly in the context of the main lesson writing or in response to literature.
Ancient civilizations and myths (including Mesopotamia, India, Persia, Egypt and Greece) are covered, as well as American geography and history. Language skills include composition, grammar, spelling and reading. Mathematics includes decimals, ratio and proportion, as well as freehand geometric drawing. The science focus is botany.
The history curriculum includes ancient Rome and the Middle Ages. The geography and cultures of South America are studied. Mathematics includes geometric drawing with tools and business math. Astronomy and physics (sounds, light, electricity, heat and magnetism) are covered in experimental science work.
Historical studies include Arthurian legends, voyages of discovery and the Renaissance. African culture and geography are covered. Science includes physics (mechanics), physiology (blood and muscles), astronomy and inorganic chemistry. Instruction continues in composition, grammar, spelling, literature and arithmetic.
Literature selections include short stories, letters and dramatic contrast in Shakespearean drama. Advanced instruction in composition, grammar and spelling round out the Language Arts curriculum. Mathematics includes arithmetic (review of solids and measurement), algebra and geometry. The geography of Asia, as well as American history is covered in the social science block. Hard science include physics (hydraulics), organic chemistry and physiology.