Grades 1 - 8
Safe and harmonious playground
At Pine Hill, physical safety + emotional safety + creative game strategy = harmony. Learn more about our rules and procedures for supporting a safe and harmonious playground.
The Waldorf elementary school curriculum is child-centered, arts-integrated, hands-on and imaginative. Here's why.
The Waldorf schools base their curriculum on the developmental stages observed by Rudolf Steiner. Steiner worked throughout his life toward a comprehensive knowledge of human nature and development, which he entitled Anthroposophy, or "wisdom of the human." Teachers study Anthroposophy for inspiration and guidance, but the word "Anthroposophy" is not mentioned to the children, nor is the philosophy taught in the school.
Central to Steiner's view of the world is a belief that every person consists of a body, soul, and eternal spirit, and that each of us is striving to reach our full potential. Therefore, it is not enough to educate the intellect alone. This cultivates thinking, but not feeling or willing, which Steiner considered to be equally important. To educate all three faculties, whether the subject is history or physics, the teaching is essentially an artistic process. It must be alive for the children. Students learn by encountering the world as experience.
Learning from cultures
Rudolf Steiner developed the curriculum we use in 1919. Its continuing relevance in the 21st century attests to the profundity of its philosophical underpinnings. Its intention is to bring children, over the course of eight years, through the cultures of the world through lively presentations of their history, mythology and philosophies.
Beginning with the teaching of fairy tales from many cultures in first grade, through the Old Testament, Norse and Greek mythologies in third, fourth and fifth grades, to the teaching of geography and history in the upper grades, the children weave a rich tapestry of the beauty and diversity in our world. From this come all of their language arts lessons and main lesson book content.
Learning two languages augments our commitment to helping children develop a feeling for other cultures, ways of expressing oneself, and appreciating other ways of thinking. This is especially important for the Pine Hill community in southern New Hampshire, which is not very diverse.
How we teach
Developing independent, creative thinkers is an important part of our educational goal. Hence, we teach mathematics and the natural sciences in a way that not only invites the student to get the right answer, but to observe phenomena, look for patterns, see relationships and come to the laws and properties on their own, from their own observations and practice. The teacher sets up experiments or math presentations in a way that engages the children's thinking. The teacher tries to get students to solve the problem placed before them. This is true whether students are coming to the idea of "standards in measurement" in grade 3 or discovering the "ratio of pi" in grade 7.
Moral development and the school community
Pine Hill also strives to foster tolerant, compassionate human beings. Each classroom is seen as a community, and each person important and worthy of respect and kindness. Although we have a largely homogeneous mix of children from predominantly middle- and upper-middle class families, we have a wide range of social and academic abilities.
With the teacher's guidance, the classes themselves create rules for deportment. They're based on a social inclusion policy that the whole school has adopted. The social inclusion policy helps children understand that at Pine Hill, all children are included in games and social activities on the playground and elsewhere. Teachers guide the children in reflective listening and problem-solving if a scuffle does occur. We encourage all children to do their personal best and to respect the abilities of the other in every area-socially, academically or in sports. Rather than competing, children are taught to help and learn from each other. We feel that approaching another human being in this manner gives the children important tools for life.
Arts in the classroom
Elementary-age children derive motivation from their hearts. Younger children are exercising their wills, and adolescents have entered the world of the mind, but kids ages 7 to 14 are developing their feelings. An integrated arts curriculum speaks to them. It fosters a quiet, reflective quality and a sense of beauty. More than that, art as part of a lesson creates a deep learning experience that allows the child's individual creativity to flower. Throughout each main lesson, whether it be language arts, science, history or math, the teacher asks students to express themselves artistically. This would include drawing, poetry, and songs related to the theme of the main lesson. We regard children as multi-faceted beings and strive to help them develop many aspects of themselves through our curriculum.
Typical daily class schedule
Our school year runs from late August or early September until mid-June and is in compliance with New Hampshire state law that requires schools to be in session 180 days per year. We count two Saturdays among these because they are school-wide festivals and all children are expected to attend.
Grades 1 through 8 meet from 8 a.m. to 2:50 p.m. every day but Thursday, when school dismisses at 1 p.m.
|8 a.m. - 10 a.m.||Main Lesson|
|10 a.m. -10:30 a.m.||Morning Recess|
|11:15 a.m. - 12 noon||Period 2|
|12 p.m. - 12:45 p.m.||Lunch and Recess (to 1:10 p.m. for Grades 1 and 2)|
|12:45 - 1:45 p.m.||Period 3|
|1:45 p.m. - 2:45 p.m.||Period 4|
|2:50 p.m.||Dismissal (1 p.m. on Thursdays)|
The class teacher
Waldorf education founder Rudolf Steiner emphasized the importance of the child having the same teacher during all or most of the elementary school years. This ongoing relationship can provide stability and security for the child, and gives the teacher the opportunity to know the children in his or her class more deeply and to serve their specific needs. It also enables the teacher to form a growing relationship with each family. An eight-year commitment remains the ideal for a Waldorf teacher
The main lesson
A central feature of every Waldorf school is the main lesson, which occurs from 8 to 10 o'clock each morning. During this period, each class concentrates on one subject for a block of three to four weeks. That subject is then set aside for a time and another one taken up. This allows the class to go deeply into one subject at a time. Alternating subjects in this way gives a healthy rhythm to the process of learning.
The class teacher teaches all the main lesson blocks to the class from grades one through five. In Pine Hill grades six through eight, guest teachers occasionally conduct a block. For example, a science teacher from our secondary school neighbor, High Mowing School, may teach a physics block. Or another class teacher may be an accomplished painter who's supremely qualified to conduct the block in Renaissance art.