Wild Oak is a program inspired by Waldorf Education. The following is a description of a typical Waldorf Curriculum.
THROUGH THE GRADES
Waldorf Education spans early childhood through high school, and, at each developmental stage—from toddler to young adult—addresses the student’s growing capacity for thinking, feeling, and willing (doing). This three-fold approach, which is sometimes referred to as learning through “head, heart and hands,” permeates the curriculum in an ascending spiral of learning.
The program in all grades also includes Music (singing and playing the recorder progressing to strings and orchestra), Eurythmy (a form of movement unique to Waldorf Education), Foreign Languages, Handwork, Form Drawing, Painting, Beeswax and Clay Sculpture, Woodworking (grades six to eight), Gardening, Drama, Speech, Physical Education and curriculum related field trips.
Waldorf Early Childhood programs provide children and families with a warm and nurturing experience. Free play alternates with group activities, such as circle time for songs, finger plays and games, movement, painting, beeswax modeling, crafts, cooking, storytelling and puppetry. Children experience all the activities with a sense of joy, yet each develops capacities, including fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination and language. Daily outside play encourages children to engage in more active movement involving the whole body. The seasons of the year are observed and celebrated with festivals.
In the Kindergarten program, children learn through play, purposeful work, storytelling and puppet shows, and practical and artistic activities. Children typically attend Waldorf Kindergarten for two years. The two-year Kindergarten program is akin to a plant: during the first year of Kindergarten, the seeds are planted and nourished; in the second year, the plant fully blooms and flourishes.
A mixed-age grouping of 4-6 year-olds has several benefits including:
- The relationship between the child, teacher, and the child’s parents deepens during two years of working together, enabling better support for each child’s unique developmental path.
- Children have unhurried time to develop the skills they will need to be successful in school and in later life. Older Kindergarten children can engage in activities for longer and at a more complex level. At this stage, they are more inwardly motivated to initiate rather than participate out of imitation.
- The second year of Kindergarten provides opportunities for the older children to develop leadership capacities and a sense of responsibility by setting the example for younger peers in a familiar setting.
- Younger children are often inspired by the older children’s expertise and the older children have the opportunity to encourage and support younger peers, thus creating a more complex social environment.
- A comprehensive 1st Grade readiness assessment of each child is undertaken in the winter of their second year of Kindergarten.
Through joyful engagement in the Kindergarten, children develop lifelong capacities for creative thinking, healthy foundational senses, a self-confidence and awareness of others, and readiness and enthusiasm for academic learning.
The rewards of the play-based entry to school become visible when children enter first grade and begin the academic journey through the grades. The children now have the visual, auditory, and kinesthetic readiness to explore the worlds of letters, numbers, writing and arithmetic.
Fairy tales; folk tales and nature stories; pictorial and phonetic introduction to letters; form drawing; reading approached through writing; qualities of numbers; introduction to the four processes in arithmetic; and lower multiplication tables.
Legends of saints, multicultural folklore, animal fables, reading and writing, elements of grammar, cursive, and arithmetic, including times tables, place value, carrying and borrowing.
Introduction to history through stories of the Hebrew people, study of practical life through farming, housing, and clothing; Native American tales, reading, spelling, writing, composition, grammar, punctuation and parts of speech, cursive writing practice, higher multiplication tables, weights, measures and money.
Local Native American studies and California history and geography, Norse mythology and sagas, descriptive writing, composition and letter writing, study of the animal kingdom, and fractions.
Ancient India, Persia, Mesopotamia, Egypt and Greece; North American geography related to vegetation, agriculture and economics, botany, Greek letters, grammar, composition, spelling and reading, arithmetic, including decimals, ratios and proportion, introduction to the Pythagorean Theorem.
History of Western civilization from Rome through the Middle Ages, rise of Islam, Arthurian legends and medieval tales, geography of South America and Europe, mineralogy, physics (acoustics, magnetism, optics and heat), botany, astronomy, composition, grammar, spelling, biographies, geometric drawing with instruments, and business math.
Our high scholastic discipline is balanced by the ongoing integration of the fine, performing and practical arts. Daily participation in the arts engages students emotionally in their own learning and develops self-awareness and aesthetic sensibilities. Students who work through their education with color and form; with music, drama, and speech; with clay, wood, fiber, metal, charcoal and ink, have not only worked creatively to activate, clarify, and strengthen their emotions, but have carried thought and feeling down into the practical exercise of the will.
By participating in the artistic process, students create beauty and objects of value, and strengthen their capacities of imagination, self-control, and clear thinking—capacities that carry over to academics as well as to everyday life situations.
Studies continue to show that the more children spend in nature, the healthier, happier, and more creative they are. Yet only about 25% of children of all ages spend time playing outdoors every day. Waldorf education respects the restorative benefits of the natural world and provides our students with a full gardening curriculum, which includes studies in farming, botany and meteorology, rich curricular field trips in nature, and lots of inviting outdoor space for joy-filled recess.
All High School Grades
Waldorf Education provides the healthiest possible learning culture for our students through our innovative assessment and grading policy. It fosters a healthy rhythm of learning free of unproductive stress or competition, ensures that students are evaluated on articulated, visible and relevant learning goals, and encourages students to strive for excellence in order to reach their highest potential in all endeavors rather than do merely enough to arrive at an arbitrary end. It also strives to develop those qualities that cannot be measured through testing, such as creativity, critical thinking, resilience, motivation, persistence, curiosity, civic-mindedness, empathy, leadership, compassion, and zest for life.
English/Literature: mythology, the novel, grammar, essay writing. Drama: comedy/tragedy. Mathematics: All ninth grade students—counting theory. Science: physics (thermodynamics), chemistry (organic), biology (anatomy), geology. U.S. history: Revolutionary War (class trip to Boston). World History: revolutions, history of art. Visual arts: black-and-white drawing, clay, historical drawing, basketry, woodworking, copper. Technology: introduction.
English/Literature: Greece and the Odyssey, poetry, novel (Grapes of Wrath), the analytical essay, writing lab, ecological literature. Drama: tenth grade play. Mathematics: conics sections. Science: physics (mechanics), chemistry (acids and bases), biology (physiology). U.S. history: civics. World history: ancient civilizations. Visual arts: watercolor painting, clay instruments, weaving. Arts/Crafts: watercolor painting, clay instruments, weaving, woodworking.
English/Literature: Dante’s Inferno, Shakespeare, Parzival, Romantic literature. Drama: Shakespeare monologues. Mathematics: projective geometry. Science: physics (electricity and magnetism), chemistry (atomic theory and periodic table), biology (botany and cell biology). U.S. history: Colonial period to World War I. World history: medieval history, music history. Visual arts: portrait drawing, veil painting, clay portraits, coppersmithing, book arts.
English/Literature: Russian literature (19th and 20th century), world literature, Transcendentalism, critical reading and analysis. Drama: senior play. Science: physics (optics), chemistry (biochemistry), biology (zoology), advanced science elective. U.S. history: WWI to present. World history: economics, history of consciousness, history of architecture. Visual arts: stone sculpture, figure drawing, acrylic painting, textiles. Senior Project: independent, year-long explorations of individually selected topics. Written and oral presentation.