It is not just what we teach, but how we teach it and when we teach it. Our academic curriculum covers all subject matter required by the B.C. Ministry of Education, but timing and emphasis may vary in order to best match the child’s development at a given age. We recognize the emotional and intellectual changes as students develop and present material when students are ready and able to work with it.
Learning is a voyage where all senses are engaged. The child hears a lesson, sees it, moves through it, and expresses it so the knowledge becomes a living part of the child.
In our warm and welcoming kindergarten, the foundation for learning is fostered through building basic skills necessary for future success like eye-hand co-ordination, tracking, sensory integration, sequencing, appreciating the beauty of language. In this truly natural, loving and creative environment the children are given a range of activities and the structure that help them prepare for the next phase of school. Kindergarten identifies rhythm as an important educational principle. The day is structured to provide the child with periods of activity and periods of rest along with teacher-led activities and creative play. Seasonal activities celebrate the cycles of the year, while daily rhythms help the child feel secure in knowing what to expect. Attention to rhythm promotes healthy development and leads to a balanced life later.
In grade one, students are led by their teacher to their first experience of the forms, sounds and sequencing of letters. They learn to read through their own writing. Our first grades spend time writing and forming letter shapes while practicing the associated sounds. The children dive into the world of arithmetic with all 4 processes (addition, subtraction, multiplication and division). Numbers and processes are learned through stories, imagination, rhymes, pictures and working with manipulatives. Grade one is rich with music (pentatonic flute and singing), art, drama, speech, and handwork. In grade one the children are also introduced to two languages French and German, which will continue throughout their elementary experience. The teacher aims to lead the children into becoming a socially cohesive group who care for and listen to each other. Time for creative free play is important for the child’s development and learning at this age.
The initial experiences of the first year are deepened and enhanced in grade two. The students build their skills in reading, and writing, and strengthen their competence in adding, subtracting, multiplication and division through active, rhythmic games and stories. Speech, art, music and foreign languages (French and German) continue to deepen. Curriculum content for this age serves to cultivate in the child a sense of the breadth and richness of the language of feelings and emotions. Legends, fables and multicultural folklore illustrate examples of moral conduct and parallel the more sophisticated social relationships that second graders form.
Third graders deepen their literacy skills and delve into the world of writing. Now is the time for a more intense focus on spelling, composition, grammar, punctuation and parts of speech. Cursive writing is also introduced this year, which recent studies indicate aids in reading, retention and even idea generation. We investigate ancient civilizations and their contributions to weights and measures. In math lesson blocks, we progress to multiplication of higher numbers and other more complex processes.
Third-grade students have a better capacity to understand their world, their relationship to the environment, and the natural rhythms that divide days, weeks and seasons. As a result, we introduce main lesson blocks that centre on farming, housing and clothing, time and the calendar.
The fourth-grade classroom is filled with active learners and independent thinkers. Norse myths and sagas — stories of heroes, giants and brave adventurers who go out to explore the world — resonate with this group. Against the backdrop of these stories, the writing skills of composition, grammar and spelling are further honed.
Fourth-grade science blocks introduce zoology, allowing students to investigate the animal kingdom. In math lessons, fractions are introduced, while previous concepts are continually practiced. Another important milestone in the forth grade is that students begin learning a string instrument and start instruction in the violin.
By the fifth grade, students are developmentally ready for more sophisticated work and greater academic rigour. The curriculum broadens to include the study of the ancient civilizations from India to Greece. Class teachers bring this work to life with stories and details that deepen students’ understanding while honing their research and library skills. Class trips compliment and reinforce learning.
Fifth-grade math lesson blocks include work with fractions, decimals and freehand geometry. In science, we move from the animal kingdom to the plant kingdom with our study of botany. We also take short trips to study plant life in other ecosystems. Letter writing, composition and grammar are part of the curriculum, as well as physical and economic geography.
The sixth grade curriculum covers a range of ideas and builds capacities in multiple areas. Having developed strong writing skills in earlier years, sixth graders focus on longer forms, such as essay writing. Science lesson blocks cover earth science, astronomy and physics. Math blocks focus on business math, pre-algebra and geometry.
History lesson blocks are fascinating and sweeping. We learn about the Roman Empire and medieval history and delve into the cultural developments that took place during these periods. We also build on the concepts introduced the previous year with physical and economic geography.
In the seventh grade, history lessons cover the Renaissance, Reformation and Age of Discovery. Lessons are layered with science blocks in biology — human physiology and health — physics and chemistry, all of which have interesting links back to the time periods covered in history blocks. Cultural geography is covered, and math lessons include algebra and geometry. Throughout the year, students also pursue their studies in art, music and writing. Creative writing is a major focus this year, along with essay writing and grammar.
What began as a curriculum steeped in fairy tales and legends, now moves to the lessons of the French Revolution, the American Revolution, the Civil War, the Civil Rights Movement and other watershed moments from 1600 to the present day. Math lesson blocks cover algebra and geometry, science blocks continue work in physics, chemistry and biology, and strong writing skills that have been emphasized throughout their curriculum – all help prepare our students for high school. The eighth grade marks the final year in a student’s journey through Squamish Waldorf School. Our grads have all made the transition to high school with ease, and consistently outperform their counterparts. Read more about our alumni here.