Our curriculum is grounded in daily and seasonal chores, the cycles of nature and our cultural heritage. The following areas are engaged every day:
Movement: As soon as our students arrive we engage their will with morning chores. This activates and energizes their limbs and rhythmic systems and leaves behind the dramas of the early morning. Specific students have therapeutic goals for cross lateral integration and differentiation, rhythm, hand/eye coordination, building core strength, integrating memory and movement, cooperation and teamwork, etc. The exercises and activities, while being therapeutically motivated by one child or another’s needs, are good for all the children.
Chores: Animal care and firewood are two important chores. Our care for the horses develops empathetic connections to the animals, supports a sense of responsibility, and provides the benefits of large and small motor challenges. Specific activities include: mucking, feeding, watering, grooming, wrangling hay, and cleaning hooves.
We cut and split the firewood that heats our yurt. Educational benefits include: cooperation, service to the group, the qualities of different species of wood, the importance of maintaining one’s tools and experience with the practice and logistics of heating a space. Benefits include cross lateral integration, proprioception, integrating vertical and horizontal midlines, and core strength.
Chores are done year round in all weather, providing deep sensory experiences of weather, warmth and cold and the practical considerations of each season. Frozen buckets of water, hot, humid days, wet firewood, the need for warm clothing, offer daily lessons in practical life and planning.
Main Lesson/Academics: Main lessons and afternoon academic periods strike a balance between a traditional Waldorf main lesson and a one-room schoolhouse. This allows us to effectively support our small class size and wide range of student capacities. Students are united through speech, music, drama and other artistic work. We study topics such as bridge construction, crocodiles, history, or the life cycle of bees all together, while also providing differentiated instruction to accommodate special areas of need, or to offer individual instruction and guidance in areas of writing, spelling, reading or mathematics.
Our academic goals in math and English follow those of the traditional Waldorf classroom, while accommodating a range of skill level. In language arts, for example, fourth grade is spent solidifying punctuation rules, using full sentences, working with parts of speech, paragraphs and spelling, while Fifth grade is expository writing including a state report. Penmanship, cursive writing, and exercises to foster better handwriting are included.
Activity: This period is the heart of the EARTH program. Our specific goals vary with the block. Projects are oriented toward practical work (bridge building, charcoal making) some are more related to farm work (gardening, apple tree pruning, harvesting and preserving food, milking and caring for cows, tapping maple trees and making syrup, and some are personal and artistic (carving spoons, making hand forged knives and beaten copper bowls). These challenges, like all of the artistic and craft work in the Waldorf School, work to develop a balanced sense of self through integrating thinking with practical achievement and artistic beauty.
Crafts/Arts: Our goal here overlaps with the Activity periods. This year we are engaging in a range of handwork projects from hand-sewn viking tunics, knitted hats and animals, a crocheted recorder bag and more. Handsewn pencil bags and beanbags for our classrooms are used daily.
Horseback riding: Horse riding and horse care provide an intensive and integrated set of lessons in respect and empathy, emotional self control and responsibility. They require students to practice physical/energetic/attentional integration with another creature and with fellow riders while providing specific meaningful movement patterns to master.
Meals: During meal times, the social goals include listening, participating in polite conversation, etiquette, sharing, taking care of others and cleaning up after oneself. We teach and encourage good nutrition and insist on wholesome, sugar-free foods for the length of the school day.
Recess: This is a pivotal time for the children, and the fields and forests surrounding our yurt provide endless opportunity for adventure and exploration. Recess is an opportunity to play freely while also practicing social and group dynamic skills. We focus on cooperation, taking others’ needs into account, coordination, nature exploration, crafts and fun!
EARTH - Daily Schedule
7:40 Morning Chores
9:00 Activity Period/snack
11:00 Main Lesson
2:40 End of day chores