8th Grade stands as the culmination of elementary school bringing all previous experiences to a new peak, enabling the students to enter high school with inner confidence and academic readiness.
History meets the students’ longing for change by investigating the modern world beginning with the Age of Revolutions up to present times. All the literature read introduces the theme of coming of to age and the freedom that accompanies this passage. Geography, Ecology and Meteorology focus on the role played by the Earth’s structure and innate forces in every part of contemporary society. The disciplines of science further this inquiry through experiments and observations. Chemistry and Physics and demonstrate natural laws at work around them. Then, Physiology and Anatomy demonstrate the the incredible doings of the human body. Mathematics remains a present part of their studies emphasizing the practical applications of arithmetic, algebra, and geometry.
Seventh graders come to school with a spirit of inquiry and creativity, seeking to discover the larger world and push the limits of their understanding. We have designed the seventh grade curriculum with this in mind. It meets the need to question traditional authority by challenging their blossoming individualism and the developmentally appropriate stage of testing boundaries.
Seventh grade students are actively engaged in the sciences of Physics, Chemistry, and Physiology. Beginning with the lever principle, Physics lessons present mechanical concepts to students. Inorganic Chemistry lessons bring a study of the combustion process externally and in the human organism as digestion, and physiology introduces the study of other life processes such as circulation and respiration.
Other areas of the curriculum also continue to expand and enrich the students’ experiences. Mathematics lessons introduce Algebra which brings the child’s imaginative powers strongly into use. Perspective Drawing brings geometry into complex forms. English blocks involve creative writing, literature and young authors learn that a variety of styles can be used to accurately specify feelings. Music, Eurythmy, Drama, Handwork, Woodwork, and Clay Modeling continue to be a regular part of the students’ curriculum.
The sixth grade is a firm step into the outer world. As children approach eleven or twelve, changes begin in their physical bodies. One of the most subtle is a hardening of the bones. Boys and girls are more aware of gravity and weight. With an increasing awareness of their physical bodies, the time is right for the study of the physical body of the earth. Mineralogy takes the children into a study of the rock formations of the earth, forces that change the shape of the earth’s surface, and the examination and study of three types of rocks, minerals, and precious metals and gems. As the world continues to expand for sixth graders, the distribution of oceans, seas, continents, and mountain masses, along with climate studies come into their study of geography. The geography of Europe will be compared and contrasted with the geography of North America. An introductory acquaintance to astronomy takes the student into the relationship of the earth to other bodies of the solar system.
Sixth grade students are introduced to the basic concepts of physics. Coming through the arts, music takes them to acoustics and color takes them to optics. Heat, electricity, and magnetism are other topics of study in physics.
Sixth grade history follows the transition from ancient to modern history. Moving from the decline of Greece, through the rise and fall of Rome, and into life in the Middle Ages, the students begin to grasp history as a temporal sequence of cause and effect relationships. The Roman spirit matches the child’s feeling of omnipotence, yet equally important for the children is the example of the effects of the excesses of the Roman period.
The disciplines of mathematics learned earlier are kept active in the children and they move on to study percentages, ratios, and business math. Geometry studied in the sixth grade brings all their previous free hand and body movements used for circle and form drawing into exact constructions, using compass, rulers, and right angles. Families of geometric figures are constructed and studied for the numerical laws they embody.
Shadows, landscapes, and color contrasts are taken up in painting. Handwork relates to form and structure as the children design and create a gusseted stuffed animal. They continue to develop their skills with tools in wood carving, creating objects that serve the human or animal world. Singing focuses on two and three part choruses, songs of the minstrels and middle ages, and recorders in descant, alto and tenor voices.
Eurythmyexpands to include simple tone eurythmy whereby students learn gestures which correspond to musical forms. Geometric forms and transformations also bring challenge to the students in Eurythmy.
English continues with more emphasis on reading, writing, and grammar and foreign language continues with reading of simple texts, humorous stories and free translation. Sixth grade is the gateway to preadolescence and idealism. They become more grounded as to who they are and begin to look out into the world to see what it asks of them.
The fifth grader has grown more accustomed to seeing the world as a unique individual. The fifth grade curriculum works with this deepening awareness, and builds on the already established foundations as it introduces new elements to prepare the student for the next steps forward. History moves from its pictorial and personal nature, as presented in the earlier grades, to being a special main lesson subject along with geography. History, telling of mankind’s deeds and strivings, stirs the child to a more intense experience of his/her own humanity. The children journey to ancient India where human beings were dreamers, through ancient Persia where the impulse was to transform the earth, till the soil and domesticate animals while helping the sun-god conquer the spirit of darkness. Going on through Mesopotamia and the Egyptian civilization, the fifth grader comes to the unique Greek culture where all matter was imbued with spirit. This is considered the end of ancient history.
History at this stage of the curriculum is an education of the children’s feelings rather than of their memory for facts and figures. History brings the child to an awareness of those events in time up to and including his/her own time. In this way, it brings the child to himself. Geography, on the other hand, brings the child into the world. American geography emphasizes contrast. The earth’s physical features are linked with a study of the way people lived in the regions, the uses made of natural resources, and the industry that arose.
As a continuation of their study of the living earth, fifth graders take up botany, the study of the plant world, first in their own environment, then attending to vegetation in other parts of the world. Form drawing expands into freehand geometry. Arithmetic expands from fractions to decimals. Singing in unison and harmony is practiced while continuing music study with the flute and the violin. Woodworking is a new experience for the fifth grader while handwork returns to knitting in a more complex way. Foreign languages, painting, eurythmy and movement classes continue.
Another special Waldorf experience for fifth graders is hosting or participating in a Greek Pentathlon where grace, beauty, form and sportsmanship are lauded along with individual achievements of speed or accuracy.
The fourth grade marks an important transition from the focus on foundation building in the lower grades to the expanding study of content in the upper grades. The nine/ten year old is meeting the world with a new self-consciousness and an enthusiasm for learning more of the intricacies of the world in which they live. Through the fourth grade curriculum they will make a soul connection with the characters of Norse mythologies who struggled to create a new world out of chaos and they will develop a respect and appreciation for the early settlers of Alaska through their study of local geography and history.
Man and Animal will be their first science block and marks a transition from the nature stories and fables of earlier years to the experimental science they will encounter later. The study of fractions at this time is ideal as well for it directly mirrors the separation of the world into its parts as the child now views the world. Complementing the study of history is the study of tenses in grammar for now the child can comprehend more clearly the differences between past, present, and future. Writing and composition and foreign language are expanded. The children continue their artistic development through handwork, music, drawing, painting, form drawing, and violin.
Quickened physical growth takes place during this transition period in which the age of dream is passing and a new age is beginning to dawn. Now there is a shifting emphasis as the child’s relation to the world around him changes: to the extent to which the child feels separate from the world he seeks knowledge of it and his studies will now have a more realistic, practical character. The curriculum will include history, reading, spelling, original composition, grammar, punctuation and parts of speech, cursive writing, arithmetic, multiplication tables, weight, measure and money, languages, handwork, and music.
English now becomes a special subject assigned its share of main lesson periods. Based again on the spoken languages, fables satisfy the children’s deep interest in the animal kingdom while legends offer lofty striving and highlight the noblest human qualities. These fables and legends now become the focus of writing material. The curriculum will also include reading, cursive writing, arithmetic, elements of grammar, languages, music, singing and handwork.
Emphasis on the arts using natural materials (water colors, beeswax modeling, coloring); fairy tales and nature stories; singing; pictorial and phonetic introduction to letters; form drawing; reading approached through letters; qualities of numbers; introduction to the four processes in arithmetic. Part of each week is devoted to learning two different languages, to handwork, and to playing the pentatonic recorder.