Every day begins with a handshake
In a Waldorf school, the class teacher stays with the same group of students as they transition through the grades. Often a teacher will remain with the class from first to eighth grade – leading his or her class through each day’s morning lesson which includes the curriculum’s major academic subjects. This continuity enables a deep understanding of each student’s strengths and challenges and supports the development of a rich social dynamic in the class. During the rest of the school day, up to eight different specialty teachers provide instruction in such areas as music, foreign language, handwork, physical education, and other subjects.
The Morning Lesson
Inspired most deeply through their feelings, grade school children respond powerfully to what is beautiful in the world—and this feeling for beauty is cultivated by the tools and approaches used in the Morning Lesson work. Students begin the day with music and verse and then move into a two-hour morning lesson. Each morning lesson block is an immersion in a particular academic subject from English, history or geography to mathematics, botany or astronomy. The academic block, lasting three to four weeks, is shaped and enlivened through music, poetry, painting, movement and/or drama. This allows the whole child to become absorbed in the subject matter with head, heart and hands.
Morning Lesson Books
As a vital part of learning, the children create their own Morning Lesson Books; observations, compositions, diagrams and drawings are recorded illustrating their studies. These colorful, very individualized books reflect the progress of each student and are not only a record of what has been studied, but a method of inquiry, increasing the students’ capacities for creativity and for knowledge. They are a unique and vital part of Waldorf education. After the morning lesson, specialty subjects such as foreign languages (Spanish and German), handwork, music, woodwork, physical education and eurythmy (a movement class) are taught. Such an integrated and extensive course of study provides the children with a comprehensive foundation for a love of learning, academic excellence and creative exploration.