Swadhaa - A Steiner School

Grade 1

First grade is an exciting year — the dreamy sense of oneness with the world is starting to fade and the child is becoming his or her own person. It is time to wake up, to start to stretch his artistic sensibilities, to bring consciousness and awareness to what he does and to begin to engage the intel­lect; but gradually…..very gradually.

Curriculum

The Waldorf school day is divided up into three main parts: head, heart, and hands. The Head lesson is also referred to as the Main Lesson and is done first thing in the morning. After a break, the Heart subjects follow. Heart subjects include drawing and painting, drama, eurythmy, foreign language, music, and so on. The afternoon is reserved for Hands. This is physical education, dance, handwork (knitting, woodworking, etc.), gardening, and other types of gross motor skill activities.

  • Form Drawing: aims to help develop the young child’s handwriting, hand-eye coordination, ability to concentrate, and other capacities. Form drawing primarily is the freehand drawing of geometric shapes. Students practice form drawing starting in first grade and continue with it through to fifth grade. Later on, in sixth grade, the students learn to use a compass and straight edge to create some of the elaborate geometric shapes they once drew freehand.

Form drawing is the very first subject taught to children in Waldorf schools when they start first grade. As the year goes on, the shapes become more complex. New forms are introduced with each new grade. By the time children reach fifth grade, they can draw intricate forms.

  • Language Arts: Introduction to the alphabet. There is an emphasis on carefully forming the letters and understanding their sounds and picture-qualities. All alphabets are introduced through ‘letter- stories’. Recitation of poetry, orally encapsulating stories, form drawing and writing sentences into a main lesson book complete language arts.

  • Mathematics: The quality of numbers, counting to 100, Roman and Arabic numerals, the four processes (addition, subtraction, multiplication and division). Numbers are explored through riddles, stories, spatial forms and movement.Mathematics is taught holistically, always going from the whole to the part and with an emphasis on the four processes as interrelated tools, never as separate operations.

  • Nature study:

     The idea is not to plunge the young one into realistic natural science. Children learn true facts of nature through vivid and imaginative nature stories. Plants, stones and animals are allowed to speak poetically about themselves. Plays are written and enacted, paintings made, dances danced….there is singing, reciting and storytelling. When children begin scientific studies, the impression of these nature stories remains with them as a warm experience and overtone of beauty.

  • Singing and introduction to the flute: 

    Music is the most inward of the arts…depths of human nature find expression through it that otherwise would never be revealed. To play a simple wind instrument such as a  flute is an extremely important experience for a child. It strengthens and develops the breathing and rhythmic elements of the child’s body.

  • Handwork –Knitting: “Nimble fingers make for clear-cut speech and lively thinking.”  Knitting which makes special demands on the fingers is an indispensable first grade activity.

  • Eurythmy: An art of movement, developed by Dr. Rudolf Steiner.

Very young children in their pre-verbal stage speak almost exclusively with their hands. But as we grow the movements of the hands are held back and speaking becomes associated with the organs of  speech.  Eurythmy   reverses this process, it takes human speech and converts then into gestures made with the entire body.

  • Second language: Second languages like Hindi, Marathi and Sanskrit are woven into the curriculum.
  • Painting, clay Modelling and crayon drawings are included in the daily curriculum as the heart subjects.

Main Lesson

  • A distinguishing characteristic of the Waldorf curriculum across all grades is the main lesson: a 2 hour period at the beginning of each day which deals with a single subject to facilitate deep immersion and engagement with the subject matter.
  • The same subject continues for 3 – 6 weeks
  • Allows for easy, deep breathing absorption and builds a concentrated spirit.
  • Activities of the main lesson period find a rhythmic balance between motor activity, mental effort and artistic creation.
  • Allows children to make interdisciplinary connections as the involvement with the subject matter is prolonged and multi-faceted.

Adapted from http://www.christopherushomeschool.com