The Class Teacher Years (7 to 14)
Lower School – Grades 1-5 (ages 7 to 11)
Children master the fundamental skills for learning in the early years. In first through third Grade, they develop the foundations for work and social interaction through an artistic approach to all subjects that engages the child’s feelings and imagination.
Throughout the years, the curriculum flows developmentally, in harmony with the child’s growth. In the early years, the teacher directs the children’s learning through fairy tales, fables, and legends. As the children listen, recall and re-tell these stories, they gain the skills that will lead to proficiency in reading and writing. Special subject classes follow the main lesson, supporting the students’ developing skills. Through games, songs, poems and simple conversations, they improve their language skills in the local language – Telugu and the National Language – Hindi.
In the third Grade, the introduction of gardening and house building helps the students to find their bearings at a time when they are challenging assumptions about the world. Those new activities are tied to several trips to a local farm to sow seeds, monitor the growth of the plant and finally harvest the fruit. During the Building Block, children take on the task of constructing something functional. They also pay a visit to a site of construction to see and learn about the different stages of construction. They study archetypal professions and learn to measure.
In fourth Grade, students focus on local geography and history beginning with the city and state they live in – Hyderabad and Telangana. They also study animals in the context of their relationship to the human being. They also go more deeply into the syntax and structure of language in Grammar. In Grade 5, they are ready to reach out in time and space to study ancient histories and cultures, including India, Persia, Egypt and Greece. They also move out radially and study the Geography of the country – India. This is the year of Plant Study as well and they begin their journey into Geometry.
In Math, beginning in First Grade, students learn the four functions of arithmetic and work their way to a command of the times tables up to 20 by the end of the Third Grade. They learn to measure length, capacity, weight, time and money. As they go into Grades 4 and 5, newer and more complex concepts are introduced as they study fractions and decimals in Math, moving on from working exclusively with whole numbers in the earlier Grades. Homework begins at this stage and complements the work done at school.
The rhythm of the day and the pace of learning throughout the elementary school years support the child’s development. Each day begins with the main lesson, an extended period that includes rhythmical activity or movement to stimulate and prepare the child for the concentrated work that follows. The students practice poems and tongue twisters, clap the times tables, listen to stories, and respond to them in writing and artwork.
Co-curricular activities in Lower School: Fine motor skills are developed through knitting, crocheting and embroidery and playing the Recorder. Social skills are fostered through physical education and games. Their spatial orientation and social adjustment are nurtured through Eurythmy. Painting is done by all children moving from a simple exploration of colours to more complex work as they move up the grades. Games at this stage are designed to develop individual skill and stamina and children learn to hop, skip and run as a class. Competitive and one-sided games are discouraged. They display their skills in a Pentathlon event – including javelin, discus, long jump, running and relays – conducted in Grade 5. Grade 5 students from Waldorf schools across the country participate in this event.