Classes 1 - 8

Lower School - Classes 1 to 3

Formal learning begins in the child’s seventh year when the imitation and ‘learning through doing’ experienced in Kindergarten transform into teacher-led learning. The child’s capacity for independent, representational and pictorial thinking is now beginning to come to the fore and the method of education responds accordingly. Movement and rhythmic activity remain strong aspects of Classes 1-3 (for example: skipping, clapping and stepping games) and these support the development of numeracy, literacy and artistically-presented work.

The mood begins with one of dreamy wholeness, with new material presented largely through picture and story. The archetypal images of fairy stories nourish the child’s holistic experience of the external. The Kindergarten’s principles of imitation and situational memory are continued alongside reverence for nature, respect for the environment and for each other.

In Class 2, skills are developed through artistic and imaginative work which fosters the growth of the child’s personal thought-pictures. The curriculum cultivates a sense for the breadth and richness of the language of the feelings and emotions.  Short fables, with their humorous one-sidedness, and stories of the saints, as an image of humanity, are recalled orally. This work leads into short written pieces. Gross and fine motor skills are cultivated and refined through the flute playing, handwork and rhythmic work.

In Class 3, around age 9, there are significant changes in the child’s physiological, psychological and cognitive make-up. Experiences are felt more strongly, and a growing sense of objectivity develops. Questions, doubts, aloneness and a tendency to criticism may emerge, changing both behaviour and the psychological landscape fundamentally.

The children begin, unconsciously, to question the authority of the teacher but through security in the teacher’s knowledge and experience of the world, they are guided through a time of change.  The Class is moulded into a “we”, as a basis for the challenges of Class 4.

Lower School - Classes 4 and 5

This is a period when the child separates from his or her surrounding and the ‘I-You’ polarity strengthens.  The child begins to understand and think independently of his or her sense-experiences, to formulate concepts and to classify the world. One sees the child beginning to learn to think and reason logically and the child showing an eagerness to learn about the world, namely ‘this world’ versus ‘his/her world’.

The child’s physical body gains strength and sustained physical effort is possible. Stamina combined with skill evidences itself in beautiful movement, poised between levity and gravity. The transition from early childhood is complete, although the transition into puberty has not yet begun.  Class 5 stands mid-point between Class 1 and 8, and midpoint between birth and maturity at the age of 21. In this period the children move from the inherent adoration of the earlier years and unconsciously challenge authority and need to inwardly develop a justified admiration of their teachers.

Teaching needs to change during this period to take into account this process of distancing.  Memory is facilitated and built upon by rhythmical presentation of material, nourishing a newly-matured cardio/vascular interrelationship. The beat of the heart and lung are typically more stable after this age.

The aims and objectives of this period are to build on and develop the basic learning skills (reading, writing, attention, numeracy, social, independence), acquired in Classes 1 to 3 and to develop an independent focus and the beginnings of independent learning. The teaching moves from myth to history – from mythological time to earthly time and to learning the inter-relatedness of life through plant, animal and geography.

What to Expect in the Lower School Booklet download

Middle School - Classes 6 to 8

In these years the limbs begin to lengthen and the child starts to experience a 'fall' into gravity. Physiologically, pupils enter into puberty and the first birth pangs of individuality are felt. The child experiences a yearning for independence together with underlying anxiety, emotional vulnerability and mood swings. Authority is openly and critically questioned and parents and teachers are challenged accordingly.

In terms of the child’s readiness for teaching, one sees the faculties of scientific, abstract, causal thinking come to the fore and the child develops a growing appetite for factual knowledge about the world around them. The child evidences an emerging potential for self-reflection which becomes a new teaching opportunity.

During this period the teachers have several key aims and objectives. They need to direct the pupils' interest and attention strongly into the world and provide the pupils with new perspectives and opportunities to explore different ways of seeing the world. They are increasingly called upon to take greater initiative and responsibility for self-directed learning and individual judgment. Their powers of observation are developed through a variety of media, and work throughout the curriculum cultivates a sense for social responsibility.

What to Expect in the Middle School  Booklet download