Grade School: Elementary School for Grades 1 to 8
A child must be 6 years old by June 1 prior to the beginning of the school year to be considered for admission to First Grade.
Dates and times
Mon, Tue, Wed, Fri 8:20am to 3:20pm, and Thu 8:20am to 2:05pm.
The Waldorf Elementary School curriculum is designed to both stimulate and support the developing child. The subject studies during the Main Lesson in the morning are often woven into artistic activities later in the day. The challenges of handwork, music, and the fine arts are not separated from the academic subjects, but are presented as vital parts of a complete education. Grade school children benefit from the same class teacher for many years.
AN ASCENDING SPIRAL OF KNOWLEDGE
In the Waldorf grades, the school day begins with a long, uninterrupted lesson. One subject is the focus; the class deals with it in-depth each morning for several weeks at a time. This long main lesson—which may well run for two hours—allows the teacher to develop a wide variety of activities around the subject at hand. In the younger grades, lively rhythmic activities get the circulation going and bring children together as a group; they recite poems connected with the main lesson, practice tongue twisters to limber up speech, and work with concentration exercises using body movements.
After the day's lesson, which includes a review of earlier learning, students record what they learned in their lesson books. Following recess, teachers present shorter "run-through" lessons with a strongly recitational character. Foreign languages are customarily taught from first grade on, and these lend themselves well to these later morning periods. Afternoons are devoted to lessons in which the whole child is active: eurythmy (artistically guided movement to music and speech), handwork, or gym, for example. Thus the day has a rhythm that helps overcome fatigue and enhances balanced learning.
As the students mature, they engage themselves at new levels of experience with each subject. It is as though each year they come to a window on the ascending spiral that looks out into the world through the lens of a particular subject. Through the main-lesson spiral curriculum, teachers lay the groundwork for a gradual vertical integration that deepens and widens each subject experience and, at the same time, keeps it moving with the other aspects of knowledge.
All students participate in all basic subjects regardless of their special aptitudes. The purpose of studying a subject is not to make a student into a professional mathematician, historian, or biologist, but to awaken and educate capacities that every human being needs. Naturally, one student is more gifted in math and another in science or history, but the mathematician needs the humanities, and the historian needs math and science. The choice of a vocation is left to the free decision of the adult, but one's early education should give one a palette of experience from which to choose the particular colors that one's interests, capacities, and life circumstances allow. In a Waldorf high school, older students pursue special projects and elective subjects and activities, nevertheless, the goal remains: each subject studied should contribute to the development of a well-balanced individual.
If the ascending spiral of the curriculum offers a "vertical integration" from year to year, an equally important "horizontal integration" enables students to engage the full range of their faculties at every stage of development. The arts and practical skills play an essential part in the educational process throughout the grades. They are not considered luxuries, but fundamental to human growth and development.
Revised for Waldorf School of New Orleans. Revised for use on Why Waldorf Works, this article by Henry Barnes, former Chairman of the Board of AWSNA, originally appeared in the October 1991 issue of Educational Leadership Magazine.
Tuition and fees specific to this program
Annual Supply Fee for Grades: $400
New Student Registration Fee: $200
Facility Fee: $250
For forms and info about all school application fees see our admissions process page.