Primary School

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"The need for imagination, a sense of truth and a feeling of responsibility – these are the three forces which are the very nerve of education." - Rudolf Steiner

The Class Teacher

Children enter the primary school in the year they turn 7, coming into the care of their Class Teacher who will have the responsibility of guiding them through the next 7 years. A strong, positive relationship usually develops between the teacher and the child, which carries the education of the child in a healthy way. The child’s inner need for trust in the authority of the teacher is met by this relationship and a sense of respect and love for their teacher calls them to strive for their best. In turn the teacher draws on their intimate understanding of the children to guide them through the stormy seas of change that manifest at particular stages through this time.

Primary School teaching

In the first year of the primary school the children's powers of understanding and memory are ready for more direct teaching of subjects, including writing, reading and arithmetic. Such subjects are introduced through stories out of which the skills and concepts to be learned are abstracted. This allows the children to form an active connection to the subject through their imagination and their feelings, which will ripen in the high school into a capacity for flexible, original thinking.

The Rhythm of the Day

Much of the academic work is done during the first two hours of school when the children are at their freshest. This period, called the main lesson, is taken by the class teacher and includes some time for activities such as singing, speech work, recorder playing, rhythmic movement games, concentration exercises, drawing and writing which extend and consolidate the subject being taught. A particular subject will be taught every morning for 3 - 4 weeks, then a new subject will be introduced. In this way, students are able to thoroughly immerse themselves in a rich and diverse picture of the subject being taught, and to explore it intellectually, artistically and practically where possible, and it may also be echoed in other lessons throughout the day.

The middle lessons of the day work more with the artistic element, and include music, painting and drawing, eurythmy, form drawing, foreign languages, (German and Japanese), and practice lessons for language and maths.

The afternoon lessons bring in the more practical, active element and include handwork, gardening, games and sport.

It would be neither possible nor desirable for the class teacher to teach all subjects. Some subjects, such as eurythmy and foreign languages, require the skill of specialist teachers and these teachers play an important role in the life of the school.

The Primary School Curriculum

In the first two years, time is given to build secure foundations for literacy and numeracy, and interest in the world. Work is done to develop the senses, concentration and continue the mastery of the physical body which was fostered in kindergarten. Main lessons generally cover three areas each term: writing and reading, arithmetic and studies of their environment. Writing is taught through painting and drawing and reading is taught through writing. Ample time is given for this process so it is common for children to be coming to the skill of reading only in Class 2. With numbers, the concrete processes are taught before an attempt is made to work abstractly.

Studies of their environment awakens children to their surroundings through stories and activities based on the seasons and rhythms of nature, which are furthered through the celebration of seasonal festivals in the school.

Oval

In Class 3, children turn nine, and at this age there is an interest in the way people make their home in the world. Practical subjects are introduced - farming and gardening, house building, and measurement, where the children grow and harvest and bake and build. This allows them to experience how we can work with our world to provide ourselves with food, clothing and shelter. Ideas of ecology and our dependence on the earth and each other for our existence, ripple through such studies without being taught formally.

In Class 4, further changes occur in the awareness of the children and their interest in the world and more formal study of geography and natural science are introduced. Geography begins with a study of their local area. The physical environment is mapped and a sense of the connection to adjoining regions through rivers, roads, mountain ranges and so on emerges. Something of the history of the place, the original inhabitants, settlement by later peoples, development of agriculture or industry is taught through stories of the people themselves. The beginnings made here with geography widen the students’ gaze in subsequent years to regions, countries and continents, till eventually by Class 8, the world is embraced.

Natural science begins in Class 4 with a study of the animal world in relation to the human being. Here the picture emerges of the amazing specialization that occurs in animals that adapts them to their specific environment, whereas the human being, while not developing special physical attributes, retains many possibilities. Throughout the sciences an approach of observation is adopted, so that the children are brought to appreciate a wide variety of phenomena with a sense of awe and wonder.

In Class 5, the world of plants is entered, while Class 6 brings studies in the mineral world and the first study of physics through the phenomena of light, sound, heat, electricity and magnetism. Chemistry begins in Class 7, setting the stage for all the sciences to be continued throughout the high school.

History as a subject in itself begins in Class 5. Before then the children have experienced a wide range of stories, mythologies and legends from the world’s rich treasury. Now a study of ancient cultures, India, Persia, Egypt, and Greece opens a window into our western cultural heritage, that continues into Rome and Medieval times in Class 6, the Renaissance in Class 7, and reaches the modern age in Class 8. Stories of Australian Aboriginal life and culture weave through different main lessons from Class 1, at times becoming the focus of a complete main lesson. Stories from other indigenous cultures are likewise told from time to time in an appropriate context.

Music takes a natural part in the school day with singing and rhythmical games. The children are taught the pentatonic recorder and sometimes the lyre in Class 1. In Class 3 they move onto the descant recorder and all students learn the violin or viola through the school’s strings program for Class 3 and 4. Musical notation is first introduced in Class 3, while the primary school orchestra begins in Class 5.

Art, like music, weaves throughout many subjects in the younger years. Painting and drawing begin in Class 1 through imitation and colour exercises. By Class 7 the children study perspective, shaded drawing and veil and fresco painting. Modelling with beeswax or clay is often integrated into the theme of the main lesson.

German and Japanese are taught from Class 1, at first through song and play and cultural activities. By employing native-speaking specialists where possible, excellent pronunciation is encouraged from an early age, and the teachers can bring a love for the games, songs and stories from their own childhood Slowly the children are led to a more formal study of grammar and reading in Class 4, while an appreciation for the culture continues to be nurtured.

Craft activities begin with sewing and knitting in Class 1 and continue throughout the primary school with crochet, weaving, dyeing and design, moving into woodwork by Class 6. Boys and girls learn all skills, which increase in complexity from year to year.

Eurythmy is the art of bringing speech and music into movement. Each consonant, each vowel, each tone, each interval has its own gesture and movement. The practice of eurythmy, which begins in kindergarten and continues through to Year 5, helps the children with co-ordination, spatial awareness, listening and social skills, graceful movement and deepens their appreciation of music and the spoken word.

Games begin in Class 1 as the simple and enjoyable games of childhood that encourage co-ordination, social awareness, and security in the physical body. They lead on to gymnastics or circus skills (where possible) around Class 3 and sport from Class 6.

Drama is simple story plays, puppet shows and the like in Class 1, but moves on to performance of stories, often from the main lesson, as a formed play in the older classes.

Gardening is part of class activities in the younger classes, becoming a structured lesson from Class 6.

Throughout the primary and high school, what is taught when, is guided by the inner developmental stages of the students.