Music and the arts are woven into most aspects of the Waldorf curriculum.
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First Grade
Second Grade
Third Grade
Seventh and Eighth Grades

  First Grade

In the first grade, Waldorf students hear the teacher tell fairy tales from around the world. The students then dramatize or retell these stories before they begin a lesson on numbers, letters, or ‘form drawing’ (according to the block)—a lesson that is based on the fairy tale.

Form Drawing

(4 weeks, and once a week throughout the school year)

Rudolf Steiner describes the first day of school as a time to talk with the students about why they attend school: they need to know how to express their ideas, how to write letters, and how to figure bill payments.

That first day, then, the children take up the task of how to draw a curve and a line—for the whole world can be represented by these two elements. Eugene Schwartz enumerates the benefits of Form Drawing thus:

  • Promotes good concentration
  • Improves hand/eye coordination
  • Balances tendencies in children
  • Helps the grasp of numerical relationships through simple geometrical drawings
  • Improves neatness and balance


(16 weeks, with daily times tables and “mental math’ practice throughout the year)

Heavy emphasis is placed on mastery of the times tables beginning in grade one. By the end of the year the students are expected to be able to multiply and divide by 1 through 5 and incrementally in tens. Mathematics are “age specific”, as is native proficiency language learning.
Eugene Schwartz enumerates the approach to math here:

  • Through fairy tales the picture of numbers up to twelve are presented and worked with in a concrete way
  • Rhythmical counting forwards and backwards from one to one hundred using whole body movements
  • Counting in movement and music gives way gradually to reciting times tables.
  • Learning about numbers as representing “how many”
  • Cardinal and ordinal numbers
  • Imaginatively presented in story for the personified symbols of the four operations and equivalence(x,-:-,-,+,=) are experienced.

Writing and Reading

(16 weeks)

Fairy Tales hold the first grader in breathless wonderment, and they sit at the edge of their chairs as the teacher tells a new story. From the story, a hieroglyph in the form of a Roman capital letter is presented. This method of introducing each letter of the alphabet, proceeding from the whole to the part, creates a deep foundation for reading and writing. The children are guided in making their own text book which becomes their first reader.

  • A rich oral language experience through poetry recitation and song trains the ear for writing and spelling
  • Form Drawing is skillful pencil handling that trains the thinking in directionality
  • The movement in story dramatization and poetry recitation help children to experience the encoded meaning

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  Second and Third Grades

Writing and reading (16 weeks)

The first block begins with daily Form Drawing, where children practice drawing “great running loops” and “castle tops” before they begin exercises in cursive writing. Moving from the printed capital letters of first grade through these Form Drawings and then directly into cursive writing, children avoid the common problems of letter reversals (mixing up b and d for example) and misorientations (like printing letters upside-down).
Because we place great emphasis on proper proportions, the children use bright colors to draw their own writing guides directly onto blank paper. By mid-year, though, the children’s work should not require a liner.
In the course of this block, the children create two main lesson books—a “Book of Saints” and a book of “Vowels”—based on the stories and exercises that come just before writing time in the Main Lesson. This is how the children create these books:

  • The teacher tells a story to the class.

  • The children re-tell or act out the story the next day.

  • One child suggests a sentence about the story; the other children emend it; and finally, the teacher writes the sentence on the board.

  • The children then copy the sentences off the board and into their own blank books.

In addition to reading the main lesson books they have created themselves, the children also read familiar poems and short stories. But how do the children become familiar with these poems?
Well, recitation is a key component of Waldorf education, and so before the children receive these poetry readers, they will already have committed several hundred lines of poetry to memory.
And while most of the poems in this book are specifically written for children, the reader also includes the works of Rossetti, De la Mere, Bronte, and Wordsworth. Also, each year, the children perform a play or two for the school and the larger community.


(16 weeks)

We place great stress on the children learning to know the times tables up to 12 x 12, through both recitation and writing. We continue to work with the four processes introduced last year, both in our daily mental math and in the three blocks devoted to math.

  • Circle work, which emphasizes counting and includes a lot of clapping to a regular rhythm, is the basis for learning and practicing the times tables.
    Example: One, two, clap, four, five, clap, seven, eight, clap, etc.
  • Going through the tables backwards strengthens the children’s grasp of multiplication.
  • The children count apples (or bean-bags, or blocks . . . ) into bags of ten and then fit ten bags into a crate of one thousand, and so on. Thus the children not only learn to multiply in a very concrete way, but they also create either a real or an imaginary harvest activity.

The children also learn borrowing, carrying, and figuring out place value up to the hundred thousandth, and they are introduced to long processes of computation as well.

  • As with writing, math exercises come out of the story activity at the beginning of class—and these stories are always of a social nature. (For example, “King Divide shares evenly.”)
  • Math facts are drilled playfully and creatively, but the children learn them by rote.

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  Seventh and Eighth Grades

The task of elementary education is to give children an understanding of humanity and the world, to offer them knowledge so rich and warm as to engage their hearts and wills as well as their minds. Such a base will inform all real intellectual accomplishment in a child’s later years.

  • History in the seventh and eight grades, therefore, leads us from the accomplishments of the Renaissance through an intensive study of the Industrial Revolution to the modern day. We focus on outstanding individuals such as Napoleon, Jefferson, Lincoln, and Edison. The study of history these grades, then, culminates in the sweep of American history.

  • Geography takes up the same theme, showing the interconnectedness of every part of the earth in modern industrial civilization. The children gain a comprehensive picture of the relationship between minerals, plants and animals and the lives of human beings in various regions of the world.

  • Physics lessons complement these historical and geographical surveys.

  • Chemistry becomes real to the students when they consider it in relation to industry. Organic chemistry takes the children inside life itself as they identify fats, sugars, proteins, and starches for the roles they play in building organic matter.

  • Mathematics emphasizes the practical applications of arithmetic, algebra, and geometry.

  • Literature focuses on the theme of human freedom in the short story, in letters, and in Shakespearean drama.

  • Painting, which Waldorf students have engaged in as a central part of their education since kindergarten, now comes into a new focus, for the students in seventh and eighth grades engage in highly conscious studies of highlights and shadows in portraits and landscapes.

  • German and Spanish studies, at this point, bring students into a study of poetry and metric forms.

  • Handwork at this age involves machine sewing an article of clothing and selected hand- sewing projects.

  • Woodworking, which at this age is devoted to creating toys with moveable parts, requires real skill and imagination.

  • Music study at this point means learning to know Elizabethan music and American musical forms.

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