Transforming Education brochureSubjects By Year
AWSNA (the Association of Waldorf Schools of North America), of which we are a full accredited member, has an excellent year-by-year overview of the subjects taught in the Waldorf currriculum here.
Waldorf Curriculum Charts
Many parents find this chart (available for purchase only) and this chart helpful.
A Different Way of Teaching: The Essence of Waldorf Education
Some of what used to be unique to Waldorf schools is now cutting-edge pedagogy in public and independent schools: block-style learning, teacher looping, multi-disciplinary instruction (and its impact on neurological development), character education, a recognition of the importance of play and movement throughout the day (and throughout life), and teaching that engages different learning styles.
The essence of Waldorf Education is this: it is founded on the understanding that every child goes through three distinct phases of development. The phases include Infancy and Early Childhood (0-7), Middle Childhood (7-14), and Adolescence (14-21). Each of these stages requires a different approach: by facilitating self-initiated exploration and learning through play during Early Childhood; engaging the vivid imaginative nature of the child in the Lower School; and delivering a curriculum that answers a different life question each year in the High School, Waldorf schools strive to meet our students deeply, where they are in their development.
At Green Meadow, students’ capacities for learning are awakened and enriched by a different way of teaching, and an education brought to life through experience: in storytelling, movement, recitation, observation, dramatic acting, music, drawing, and painting. An emphasis on oral expression in all subjects enables our students to develop into confident, self-aware adults, and a focus on hands-on learning and discovery nurtures their lifelong love of learning.
The Waldorf Curriculum Lays the Foundation for Academic Excellence
Our carefully constructed curriculum, developed by Rudolf Steiner in 1919 and made new every day by our inspired teachers, includes a comprehensive humanities program based on the great literature and the history and culture of world civilizations. Green Meadow’s excellent math program builds proficiency in arithmetic, computer programming, geometry, algebra, trigonometry, and calculus. Science offerings in biology, earth sciences, chemistry, and physics contain a strong empirical component, allowing students to learn scientific principles through first-hand experience and observation.
Early Childhood (Nursery/Kindergarten): Willing
From birth to age 7, the aim of the Waldorf teacher is to surround students with beauty, truth, and goodness. Out of the belief that children must have trust in the world as a foundation for healthy future development, the Waldorf teacher strives in the early years to be a model worthy of imitation, and to share all that is good in the world with the students. He or she also focuses on providing an environment that enables the children to develop healthy bodies and wills, engaging their natural desire to move and explore, to do. Social skills are taught through family-style snacks and meals, circle time, and ample time for problem-solving through play. The imagination is engaged through stories told aloud by the teacher, and puppetry performed for the children, often with musical accompaniment that refines their aural sense.
Lower School (Grades 1-8): Feeling
From ages 7 to 14, the feeling life of the child is engaged through stories and the direct, unmediated relationship with the Class Teacher, who often loops with the class for several years and acts as guardian and mentor.
The Class Teacher is supported by a core of specialty teachers (see details below, under "Specialty Classes") who meet with the students twice a week.
Each morning in main lesson (a one-and-a-half to two-hour period with the Class Teacher), the children are told stories related to the block they are studying. A block is a 3-5 week period of intensive study on one subject, and students are taught in blocks from Grades 1-12.
High School (Grades 9-12): Thinking
From ages 14-21, the strengthening of the intellect and critical thinking are key areas of focus. Until Waldorf high-school students graduate at age 18 or 19, their teachers are engaged, among other tasks, in helping them answer a different question each year.
The Ninth Grade Question: "What?"
In ninth grade, students are questioning the world around them and are interested in the dynamics of change. With this in mind, the Waldorf curriculum introduces the study of historical revolutions, thermodynamics, and anatomy.
The Tenth Grade Question: "How?"
By tenth grade, the students develop a more harmonious worldview, revealed in questions such as "How do the processes of the world bring contrasts into balance?" Tenth-grade students in a Waldorf school study balance and harmony as they manifest in mechanics, poetry, and ancient cultures.
The Eleventh Grade Question: "Why?"
Between tenth and eleventh grades, the student embarks on what will be a lifelong quest for knowledge of self and others. Students encounter the tales of Parzival and Hamlet. In the sciences, students learn about the physics of electromagnetic fields.
The Twelfth Grade Question: "Who?" or "Who Am I?"
As seniors, students explore the nature of existence through such disparate sources as American Transcendentalism, Russian Literature, evolutionary theory, and modern history. Internships and independent senior projects reflect the student's emerging individuality.
An array of specialty classes complements and supports Green Meadow’s main academic curriculum from Grades 1-12:
- A comprehensive physical education and sports program enables our students to learn to move and compete in healthy ways. Green Meadow students also learn the art of eurythmy, a form of movement in which language and music are expressed through movement and gesture.
- Through our extensive music program, all Green Meadow students take up the recorder in the first grade, begin stringed instrument lessons in the third grade--with an option to switch to wind or percussion in the fifth grade--and develop their musical training through instruction in theory, chorus, orchestra, and band.
- Classes in handwork and applied arts stimulate both the imagination and the intellect. Students are taught knitting in first grade, move on to learn woodworking, pottery, and metalwork among other arts, and by twelfth grade are skilled at bookbinding.
- Instruction in two foreign languages (Spanish and German) begins in the first grade and continues through the twelfth (students select one language in eighth in which to concentrate through twelfth); about 70% of our high school students choose to apply their language skills by spending a semester abroad through our International Exchange Program.
All photos on this page except Main Lesson Book: © Dyana Van Campen.