Elementary School, Grades 1 – 5
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Tidewater School's elementary grade programs serve children in a caring, supportive environment that aims for the balanced development of all the child's abilities. Academic excellence is achieved through artistic presentation that addresses head, hands, heart and spirit.
Pictorial and phonetic introduction to letters, reading approached through writing, arithmetic: introduction to addition, subtraction, multiplication and division, fairy tales, folk tales and nature stories.
Main Lesson: Introduction to Writing/Reading More about Main Lessons
First Graders have an imaginative consciousness that allows them to see pictures in everything. Letters of the alphabet are introduced through stories and images from which the children draw pictures that embody the basic shape of each letter. A swan may be transformed into an "S", a mountain into an "M", and so on.
Students then write out and illustrate the stories and verses they have learned. Having mastered the letters and the sounds, they are now ready to read what they have written.
First Grade Handwork More about handwork
- Handling of wool yarns
- Winding a ball properly
- Finger knitting and braiding
- Knitting: casting on, casting off, knitting in garter stitch, changing colors, counting stitches and rows, finishing projects and weaving in of ends, making of knitting needles
Reading and writing, multiplication tables, numerical patterns and forms, continuation of the 4 processes and introduction to place value, legends, fables and nature stories.
Main Lesson: Fables and Legends More about Main Lessons
Second graders are becoming more aware of themselves and their world and can begin to probe beneath the surface of the stories they hear. The curriculum for this grade includes fables and legends.
Fables depict aspects of the human being through animal characters, legends of heroes, holy men and women portray the nobler aspects of the self. After hearing a story the students retell and discuss it, then write it down and illustrate it, creating their own beautiful books.
Second Grade Handwork More about handwork
- Continuation of knitting: Addition of purl stitch, knitting in stockinet, ribbing, decreasing and increasing, Addition of yarn overs to create holes
- Butterfly cord
- Beginning crochet; introduce cotton yarns
- Working with color, i.e. light and dark
Reading and spelling, simple descriptive writing grammar, punctuation and parts of speech, cursive writing, time and calendar work, multiplication with higher numbers, weight, measurement, money, study of practical life - farming, housing and clothing, Hebrew stories as an introduction to history, violin.
Main Lesson: Practical Life More about Main Lessons
The curriculum helps third graders to stay grounded during an important childhood transition (the nine year change) by leading them to a study of practical activities such as farming and house building. Like every subject in the early grades, these topics are introduced in a vivid pictorial manner; then they are developed and deepened through hands-on experience.
Third Grade Handwork More about handwork
- Continuation of crochet: single and double stitch, crocheting squares and in the round, variety of geometric forms
- Working with colors
- Simple embroidery stitch is introduced: threading a needle, tying a knot
Reading and spelling, writing, composition and grammar, introduction to fractions, study of animal kingdom, local geography and map-making, Norse myths, woodwork, stringed instruments.
Main Lesson: Nature Study More about Main Lessons
As fourth graders become citizens of the earth who are aware of the world around them and of their place within it — they learn about animals in relation to the human being. Zoology is studied through stories, poetry, drama and art, and children experience the separation from nature that marks the developing intellect.
Fourth Grade Handwork More about handwork
- Embroidery: Design with color, form and stitch, French seams, Blind hem, Hand sewn loops and butterfly cord
- Cross-stitch: Formation of X, Working with color, Mirror image designs, Image patterns in four parts
Reading, spelling and composition, grammar and letter writing, poetry, fractions, decimals, freehand geometry, study of plant kingdom, physical and economic geography, ancient civilizations through Greece, chorus.
Main Lesson: Geography More about Main Lessons
The fifth grader has enhanced his recent gains in consciousness and has grown more accustomed to being an isolated self and seeing the world in a new perspective. Geography emphasizes contrast. Every consideration of the earth's physical features is linked with a study of the way human life has been lived in the region, and the human uses of natural resources, the industry and produce.
Through lively descriptions, map-making projects, reading assignments and reports, students learn about physical, economic and cultural conditions of different areas. They grow to appreciate the diversity of human life upon the earth.
Fifth Grade Handwork More about handwork
- Review knitting skills
- Knitting in the round with four needles: Turning a heel, Shaping a thump gusset
Main Lesson Curriculum
A central feature of every Waldorf school is the Main Lesson that occurs from 8:30–10:30 each morning. During this period, each class concentrates on one particular subject for a block of weeks. That subject is then set-aside for a time and another is taken up. This allows the class to keep a single focus in order to go deeply into a subject for a time. Alternating subjects in this way gives a healthy rhythm to the process of learning.
In addition, the "field of frustration" in which the child must travel to accomplish these dexterous tasks is a lesson for the child to explore the recipe of challenge, hard work, rhythm and success. In our modern "push button" age, these "will" forces are even more at risk and it is the gift of the Waldorf method that we slow the child down in order to learn the critical developmental task of working through frustration.
Handwork also becomes a time of community and a time to witness and respect each other's art. Even the most rudimentary pieces offer textures and colors, which compel admiration from one's peers.
Other Tidewater Curriculum
Physical Education and Games
Children's need and love for games and sports is recognized and met with regular, organized physical education classes as well as daily recess periods. Games and sports are coeducational and stress teamwork rather than competition. A wide variety of physical activities is offered including cooperative games, skating, cross country skiing, hiking, kite flying and jumping rope.
Students in all grades learn Eurythmy, a dance-like art form in which music or speech is expressed in bodily movement. Some characterize it as "visible song" or "visible speech." Eurythmy was developed by Rudolf Steiner and is a part of the curriculum of all Waldorf schools. Children respond to its simple rhythms and exercises that help them strengthen and harmonize their bodies. Older students work out elaborate eurythmic representations of poetry, drama and music, thereby gaining a deeper perception of the compositions and writings. Eurythmy enhances coordination and strengthens the ability to listen and to work as a social group.
Children make simple, beautiful and practical objects concentrating on exactness, endurance and skillfulness.