At the Waldorf School of Louisville, as in most Waldorf schools, teachers remain with the same class from 1st to 5th/8th grade, allowing for growth and a deepening sense of class community. This continuing connection allows teachers to better understand and meet the specific needs of the class as a whole and of individual students, without having to reestablish relationships each year. The curriculum offers an organic structure that mirrors the developmental changes that take place over the grade school years. The Waldorf curriculum was designed to resonate with a child’s changing frame of mind, so the subjects that are taught can meet their growing needs. Each grade at a Waldorf School has its story theme, an archetype for the stories told and lessons taught:
Grade 1: Fairy Tales
Grade 2: Saints, Fables, and animal stories
Grade 3: the Old Testament / Hebrew stories
Grade 4: Norse Myths and Native American stories
Grade 5: Legends and myths of India, Egypt, Persia, and Greece
Grades 6, 7, 8: Stories, particularly biographies out of the history and geography curriculum
Rhythm of the Day
Each day begins with Main Lesson. The main subjects, such as history, language arts, science, and mathematics are taught in blocks of two hours per day, with each block lasting from three to four weeks. In the early grades, the main lesson begins with 20 – 30 minutes of circle time, a time of movement filled with songs, rhymes, recitation, mental math and other exercises to prepare the child for lesson work. The children come to their seats, ready for the day’s lesson.
After the Main lesson, the children have a hearty snack (brought from home) and time to play outdoors.
The afternoon consists of subject classes including handwork, movement/games/athletics, languages, woodworking, music, and art, as well as lunch (brought from home) and more time to play outdoors.
The Main (Morning) Lesson
The main subjects, such as history, language arts, science, and mathematics are taught in blocks of two hours per day, with each block lasting from three to four weeks. During the Main Lesson, the children have the opportunity to study one subject intensively. The Waldorf curriculum has been likened to an ascending spiral: subjects are revisited several times, and each new exposure affords greater depth and new insights into the subject at hand.
Students create their own main lesson books – valuable learning tools that record progress through the grades. The books include compositions and illustrations that the student creates from the lesson, such as scientific discoveries, math concepts, stories, or detailed botanical drawings.