Early Childhood

 PARENT CHILD PROGRAMS

infant in sun

Meadowbrook Waldorf School offers Parent-Toddler programs throughout the school year for children from birth through preschool (3-4 years). These programs are offered weekly for two hours and facilitated by Waldorf–trained teachers.

For the children, this is a time for play, exploration, and socialization, while the parent or caregiver enjoys the support and company1 of other parents.

 

 

PT with bird puppet

 

 

Parents  engage in home-like activities or make simple crafts while their children help them or play near-by. Children play with simple, natural toys and materials and are guided through the morning by the gentle rhythm of circle time, creative play, snack and story time.

There is also the opportunity to discuss child development, parent issues and Waldorf Education with an experienced Waldorf parent and teacher.  Please email admissions@meadowbrookschool.com for more information.

 

 

 

 

Early Childhood

Preschool and Kindergarten Program

Snack table

Taught by experienced Waldorf teachers, our programs are designed to nurture and protect the young child’s natural sense of wonder and curiosity. Formal academic learning begins in Grade 1 in a Waldorf school, with the foundational skills of literacy and numeracy laid in our Early Childhood classrooms, play yard, and woodland campus. These pre-academic skills, including social, physical, and emotional skills, are strengthened in a beautiful and warm environment, rich in hands-on play, indoor and outdoor activity,  and storytelling.

Days in the Early Childhood classroom are balanced with periods of quiet following periods of active, creative play, purposeful work, and exploration. This rhythm is expressed in a daily routine that includes play, circle time (verses, nursery rhymes, songs, and games), snack time, nature stories, folk and fairy tales, artistic activities, and outdoor play. These activities work together to strengthen the child’s capacities for creative thought, cooperation, problem solving, and perseverance in preparation for the academic learning beginning in the elementary grades.

Meadowbrook Waldorf School offers a mixed-age preschool and kindergarten program with three to six year olds in the same classroom. Children must be 3 years old by June 1 to be considered for enrollment, while the kindergarten year begins for the child who is 5 years old by June 1. We offer both half and full day programs for preschool and kindergarten. Preschool-aged children may attend either three or five days per week. Kindergarten students must attend five days per week to meet State of Rhode Island standards and continue on to First Grade.

 

Elementary Grades

MWS Rose Ceremony_43

 In a Waldorf school, formal academic learning begins in the elementary grades, Grades 1 to 5. Children at this stage, ages 7-11, naturally learn through direct experiences.This tendency is met with a curriculum that provides hand-on learning opportunities for all subjects. A Waldorf curriculum is one that unites academics, the arts, movement, practical work and a deep respect for the natural world.

 

Grade One: Coming Together

Maypole Ribbons 

The Waldorf Curriculum for Grade One leads the children gently out of the familiar realm of early childhood and set them joyfully on the path of formal learning. The teacher provides a model for the child’s life-long love of learning and strives to create beauty for them everyday.

Rich, archetypal tales from many cultures form the academic theme of the year. Through these stories, students build the foundations of literacy, and experience the practical qualities of numbers. The introduction of the four mathematical processes through experience and story, leads to greater retention and a deeper understanding of abstract concepts.

During this year, much work is done modeling and developing good classroom habits and strengthening social skills. The development of these soft skills  is supported through outside play, making music in a group, and working together on the class play. This encouragement of empathy and cooperation ultimately inspires a sense of respect for each other and nature. Combined with celebrations of the seasons and holidays, the children develop the ability to observe and relate to the outside world with reverence.

In addition to daily work in the arts including painting, drawing, beeswax sculpting, singing, and pentatonic flute, every child participates in classes in German, movement, handwork, and nature walks.

 

Grade Two: Awakening Intellect

Playing Flute in Grade 2

The Waldorf Curriculum for Grade Two builds on the foundations of First Grade and continues to present the curriculum through story. These young students are emerging from the magical fairy tale existence of early childhood and with this awakening intellect are discovering the world around them. With heightened awareness, students begin to probe more deeply and experience the contrast that exists in the world.

The stories of saints, legends, and fables from around the world form the theme of this year. It is through these stories that contrasting human qualities are explored and the children sometimes meet themselves in these tales of overcoming obstacles and weaknesses, and finding harmony.

Each academic and artistic subject gains complexity. Students gain foundational reading, writing, and phonics skills through the writing and retelling of stories told by their teacher. Reading competency is improving, sentence structure is introduced, and students discover the rules of spelling and phonics. Odd and even numbers, mental math, and fluency in math facts is gained not just through rote memorization, but with the discovery of the patterns and rhythms contained in math.

In addition to daily work in the arts including painting, drawing, beeswax sculpting, singing, and pentatonic flute, every child participates in weekly classes in German, movement, handwork, and nature walks.

 

Grade Three: The Practical Individual

Grade 3 (1)

Third graders are developing a sense of individuality and separateness from others and benefit from a curriculum that helps support them during this important childhood transition.  A Waldorf curriculum meets this need with a deep exploration of the practical.

Building on what has come before, the dreamy fairy and folk tales of previous years advance to a study of more complex, ancient Hebrew stories. These foundational stories combined with a study of building, clothing, and farming, demonstrate how humankind, applying practical knowledge and labor, inhabits the world.

In the classroom, reading and independent writing skills continue to develop and cursive writing, grammar and the parts of speech are introduced. The study of math also turns to the practical with a study of time, money, and measurement, and the children are challenged with multiplication and division of larger numbers. These mathematical skills are put to practical use in a variety of ways.

This rich curriculum includes gardening, building, measurement, and a five-day overnight farm experience. This trip gives the children the opportunity to experience the everyday activities of a working farm. It is often the child’s first time away from home and is a challenge met with the warm support of his or her classmates and teacher.

In addition to daily work in the arts including painting, drawing, and singing, this year reading music is introduced with either the pentatonic flute or recorder. Furthermore, every child participates in weekly classes in German, movement, handwork, and nature walks.

 

Grade Four: On the Earth

Having navigated the nine-year change of third grade, but not yet entered puberty, fourth graders take steps to broaden their independence and deepen their understanding of the world around them. The child is now ready to explore the idea that the world can be a complicated place, with many gray areas. The Waldorf curriculum supports the child of this age with a study of Norse mythology and Native American legends. These rich stories speak of both creation and destruction, and bring characters that are nuanced, exhibiting both talents and flaws.

Students have moved from “learning to read” to “reading to learn”. In addition to Norse myths, morning lesson blocks include zoology, fractions, and Rhode Island geography. More complex rules of grammar are introduced, and the children often write about field trip experiences in journal entries, reports, poems, and other compositions.

This year the students explore zoology, the first formal block study of science which builds on earlier more generalized nature studies. During this block, students take a closer look at the animal world and compare and contrast to the human being.

The fourth grader now begins to understand their individual part in relation to the whole class, and start to see themselves in a new way. Fractions are now presented and work with this concept of the parts of a whole. Once this concept is understood, the rules of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division of fractions are introduced. Math concepts become more complex this year as the children learn to work with prime numbers and factors in a lively, engaging, and experiential way.

Children are also encouraged to literally step out into the world with many field trips. The local geography of Rhode Island is explored with class hikes to local points of interest (or destinations). This year, Rhode Island history is experienced both in the classroom through biography, and outside the classroom with trips to Rhode Island historical sites.

Homework generally begins in fourth grade, when the children are ready to take up this task for themselves. Stringed instruments are also introduced this year, and each child learns to play violin, viola, or cello. The chosen instrument is played through eighth grade.

In addition to daily works in the arts including painting, drawing, singing, and recorder, every child participates in weekly classes in German, strings, movement, handwork, nature walks and seasonal outdoor projects.

 

Grade Five: The Golden Age

These fifth grade children occupy a special place, balanced between the end of childhood and the start of adolescence. They are strong and graceful in their movements, capable and proud of their accomplishments, and they find themselves generally in harmony with the world around them; this is the “heart of childhood”. They are living the Greek philosophical ideals of beauty, truth and goodness.

The theme for this year is ancient civilizations. The fifth grade morning lesson brings a deep study of the mythology, history, geography, art, and literature found in the ancient cultures of India, Persia, Mesopotamia, Egypt, and Greece. Other subjects in the morning lesson block are botany, and geography of the North American continent. In math, work with fractions and factoring continues, while decimals and freehand geometry are introduced. In writing, the children are becoming more independent in expressing their ideas through compositions.

Woodwork joins handwork in the Practical Arts curriculum and the children learn how to create simple shapes with hand tools including saw, chisel, rasp, and sandpaper.

Movement class beautifully incorporates the theme of this year with a deep, experiential study of the ancient Olympic pentathlon events. The children practice the proper form for long jump, javelin, discus and wrestling, and test their endurance over a long run. In the spring, the children travel to Lexington, MA to compete with other Waldorf school children in a day of Olympic events.  

In addition to daily works in the arts including painting, drawing, singing, and recorder, every child participates in weekly classes in German, strings, movement, handwork and nature walks.

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