The goal of the Waldorf curriculum in the elementary years is to awaken the mind, heart and will of the growing child. These are the years in which every child is an artist at heart, and the teacher’s task is to infuse intellectual knowledge with aesthetic experience.
At the Waldorf School every day begins with the main lesson which lasts for one-and-a-half to two hours. Included in this period, especially in the earlier grades, are movement activities that incorporate learning math facts and developing concentration skills. The teachers engage the student artistically, descriptively, and dramatically. The children actively participate through questions, discussions, and written work in their main lesson notebooks. Specific skills such as reading, spelling, grammar, expository writing, arithmetic review and drill are reinforced through additional daily English and math periods. Oral language skills are carefully developed throughout the elementary school through choral speaking, individual presentations and dramatic productions. Form drawing, particular to Waldorf education, is a form of elementary geometry which at an early phase develops the child’s eye-hand coordination. By the eighth grade, the forms are complex; and the children surpass most adults’ ability to create these drawings.
Specialty teachers supplement the work of the class teacher by working with the children in music, dance, craft and handwork, woodworking and physical education. A full time Remedial teacher is present in our Aziz Nagar campus to work with children who have difficulties with speaking, reading, writing, spelling, Math, sequencing. Some children show lack of spatial awareness, lack of rhythm and timing, lack of co-ordination and concentration. The remedial teacher's main aim is to build the confidence of the child with carefully chosen exercises, which are fun and at the same time therapeutic.
Children master the fundamental skills for learning in the early years. In first through third grade, they develop the foundations for work and social interaction through an artistic approach to all subjects that engages the child's feelings and imagination.
In the early years, the teacher directs the children's learning through fairy tales, fables, and legends. As the children listen, recall and re-tell these stories, they gain the skills that will lead to proficiency in reading and writing. Beginning in first grade, students learn the four functions of arithmetic and work their way to a command of the times tables by the end of the third grade.
The rhythm of the day and the pace of learning throughout the elementary school years support the child's development. Each day begins with the main lesson, an extended period that includes rhythmical activity or movement to stimulate and prepare the child for the concentrated work that follows. The students practice poems and tongue twisters, clap the times tables, listen to stories, and respond to them in writing and artwork. Special subject classes follow the main lesson, supporting the students' developing skills. Through games, songs, poems and simple conversations, they improve their language skills. Fine motor skills are developed through knitting, crocheting and embroidery and playing the recorder. Social skills are fostered through physical education and games.
Throughout the years, the curriculum flows developmentally, in harmony with the child's growth. For instance, in the third grade, the introduction of gardening and house building helps the students to find their bearings at a time when they are challenging assumptions about the world. Those new activities are tied to several trips to a local farm to sow seeds, monitor the growth of the plant and finally harvest the fruit. During the Building Block, children take on the task of constructing something functional in the school. They also pay a visit to a site of construction to see and learn about the different stages of construction.
In fourth grade, students focus on local geography and history. In grades 5-8, they are ready to reach out in time and space to study ancient histories and cultures, including India, Persia, Egypt, Greece and Rome. Then, they focus on Europe from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance and the Age of Exploration. In the eighth grade, they turn to the study of American history. The students explore geography and cultures through their studies of the continents of the world.
In biology, students move from the observation of plant life to the study of the human being. Through the main lesson block in nutrition, for example, students discover what sustains and balances them. This study of the human being culminates in their attention to anatomy and physiology. Students work with the chemistry of acids and bases in the laboratory.
Through observation of phenomena around them, our students discover scientific laws and their relation to mathematics. Optics and mechanical principles are explored through experiments. In math, as they move from fractions and decimals to geometry and algebra, practical applications help students see wide-ranging connections with other subjects, which offers avenues for the exploration and understanding of geometric forms.
Students in grades five through eight increasingly work with specialty teachers in addition to the class teacher who may have been with them since first grade. Writing, research, classroom presentations, science observations, reports and the creation of main lesson notebooks increasingly demand initiative and higher-level intellectual skills.
By the end of eighth grade, students have not only mastered skills, but have also gained a growing understanding of how things learned in the classroom are connected to each other, to the outside world and to their own lives. They are ready for the next stage of a Waldorf education: the intellectual excitement and challenge of high school.
English is the medium of instruction in Sloka. Hindi and Telugu are available to choose as 2nd/3rd Languages. In the initial Grades, the emphasis is on conversation and learning through songs, reciting poems, playing games, and performing plays. In the upper elementary grades the language lessons increasingly include written work, reading, grammar and vocabulary in addition to perfecting oral skills.
Handwork skills are important in a Waldorf education because this activity develops fine motor coordination and increases the student’s ability to concentrate on the task at hand. Children learn to knit in first grade, to crochet in second grade, and to weave in the third grade. From this handwork, which continues throughout the grades, the children come to appreciate the effort and skill required to make something that is not only useful but also beautiful. Handwork includes cross-stitch in fourth grade, and a variety of increasingly complex projects in fifth through eighth grade. Woodworking is introduced in the fifth grade and continues through the upper grades.
Music and Dance
Music and Dance are an integral part of the curriculum throughout the school. From the first grade, all the children sing and play the recorder. Children of the Grade classes learn Classical Dance and instrumental music.
Gymnastics and Games
Waldorf students participate in a variety of physical education classes that teach spatial awareness, encourage coordination, balance and rhythm, and develop individual and team sporting skills. Children of Grades 1- 3 play games like Dog and the Bone, I Sent a Letter, Animal Train, that enable them to improve their limb coordination. For children of Grades 4-6 Dodge Ball, 7 Stones, Kabaddi, Kho-Kho are introduced to develop team spirit, strengthen their lower limbs and work on their balance and coordination. Grades 7 and up play games like Throwball, Volleyball, Save Your Kingdom and Relay races to work on their skills of planning, strategy and execution. A large playground in our campus offers a 200m track, Long Jump pit, Volleyball/Throwball Court. Gymnastics for Grades 1-3 includes warm up exercises, forward and backward rolls, split jumps, rhythmic gymnastics and fun exercises. The goal at this age is to develop the child’s physical strength, learn the art of balancing the body, develop coordination between different limbs and improve mental strength. In Grades 4-6, when children are 9-12yrs of age, through the art of balancing while lifting, lifting and throwing their body weight, flexibility, holding and controlling, the goal is to strengthen their forearms, wrist and shoulders. After an initial warm up of 10min, children are taught to make a back bridge, do stretching exercises, cart wheels and hand stand roll. They learn to swing on a rope, walk on their hands, make a pyramid, and do rhythmic gymnastics and jump through a loop of fire. For children of Grades 7 and up, stretching, cart wheel, hand stand, back bridge, back flip, hand spring, dive roll, swinging on bars, walking on a bar and push ups are taught.