In private Waldorf schools and the popular and revered Finnish model, academics begins around age seven. These students score very well and meet or exceed their peers in testing in later grades. As Mountain Sunrise Academy is a public charter we follow Utah Core Standards. Thus, academics begins in Kindergarten. We use the Waldorf approach to teach language arts through experiences which include recitations, movement, singing, and rich storytelling. Kindergarteners also have time for creative play, "which play is the work of young children." Creative play aids in developing children's language acquisition, problem-solving, social skills, spatial awareness, collaboration, communication, creativity, critical thinking, etc. Children will also help prepare a daily snack and do activities such as watercolor painting, outdoor play, circle movement journeys, crafts, singing, storytelling, drawing, writing, and handwork.
Beauty, order, creative play and rhythm are an important part of the Kindergarten. Pictured below is an example of a Kindergarten classroom.
Each school day begins with a connection with each student as the teacher greets each child by name and with a handshake. The teacher is able to observe the student’s demeanor and state of being through this daily activity as well as authentically connect with each person.
The class typically begins with movement, singing, and speech exercises such as poetry recitation. This is known fondly in the younger grades as “Circle Time” or “Movement Journeys.” The class then reviews the lesson material from the previous day and moves into a time known as “Main Lesson.” During this time new cognitive material is studied in a block format usually lasting 4 weeks before a new block is introduced.
These “Main Lesson” times last 2 hours which often include implementation of the lively arts to engage the student and learn the material in an experiential way. Children create their own “Main Lesson Books” which include artistic renderings and writing. The teacher first teaches this thru modeling how to do this on the blackboard and the children copy this into their main lesson books. As the children grow older and gain competencies they are able to add their own artistic ideas and writings in these books. These “main lesson books” are highly valued by children and parents alike. Rather than using a “textbook” to learn, the children have created their own unique book of writing and art that demonstrates what they have personally taken in and learned. These books provide a daily formative assessment on each student’s progress.
Main lessons have a focus in Language Arts, Math, Science, and Social Studies and are taught in an integrated way with other subject material. In the afternoon, if a language arts block was focused on during Main lesson, then there is a lesson on math. If the main lesson block focused on math, then there is a lesson on Language Arts. There is also time for reading out of books, movement, and other multidisciplinary learning opportunities.