Elementary Grades 1-5
A real education takes care that body, soul and spirit will be intrinsically free and independent. And real education takes care to put people into life.
The Waldorf Curriculum Through the Grades
In the grade school, New Amsterdam students follow a curriculum that integrates the sciences and humanities with art and practical activity. We teach the core subjects in daily main lesson blocks in which we discover and delight in one topic for a two-hour-period over the course of four weeks. This generous rhythm allows students the time and opportunity to penetrate each subject, whether history, biology, mathematics, or geography, thoroughly and with purpose.
The grades classes meet five days a week from 8:30am until 3:15pm. Village Peeps after-school classes are available for elementary students and run from 3:30pm until 5:00pm.
A Growing School
First through fifth grade applications will be accepted beginning Oct 1, 2019, for the 2020-2021 school year. We use a rolling admissions process, accept midyear transfer students, and are still currently accepting applications for the current school year. Each consecutive year we will add a new upper grade, following our plan to grow to eighth grade by 2023. The tuition assistance process for the 2020-2021 school year opens October 15th, 2018.
First grade is the the beginning of an eight-year journey of academic, artistic, practical, and social learning. The teacher takes great care to create opportunities for each student to experience him or herself as a natural learner in each of these areas. The core principle behind this work is our view of child development, one that recapitulates the development of human consciousness. Six and seven year olds experience themselves as integrated completely into the world, and so our approach at this age is completely wholistic. First graders are taught all of their academic subjects through story, poetry, movement, drawing, painting, modeling, and music, and in such a way as to reflect to the children their experience of the world. In this way they feel that their learning is completely natural, allowing them to remain open to all that is brought to them by their teachers without anxiety or undue pressure. This atmosphere sets the foundation for a healthy and sustainable approach to life-long learning.
An important task of the first grade is to develop into a community of learners who support each other and work well as a group, as these children will stay together with their teacher for a number of years. This continuity gives children the opportunity to build deep bonds over time and it allows teachers to understand their students in ways that would be impossible over the course of only one year. The depth of relationship ensures a targeted and specific approach for each child and each class, ensuring that children receive an education that meets both the requirements of the curriculum and the needs of each child.
The first grade curriculum includes all four of the basic arithmetical processes, times tables, writing as the first step to reading, phonics and sight words, literature, nature process stories, Japanese, Spanish, knitting, two and three-dimensional visual arts, crafts, singing, pentatonic flute, eurythmy, and developmental movement. Each lesson addresses thinking, feeling, and willing in a way that enlivens both the subjects and the students. The schedule is arranged to ensure plenty of free play outside each day, time for eating and rest, and time for experiencing the complexity of healthy social life. New Amsterdam students end their school day longing to return the next morning.
Grades Two, Three, & Four
Grades two and three learn together in a mixed-age class in which the themes of polarities, self-development, and our connection with the earth are woven seamlessly and subtly into lessons on topics as various as scales of measurement, stories of personal transformation, long division, and homes and grains from around the world. Children of this age are becoming self-aware in a new way, and the curriculum at New Amsterdam leads them to a feeling of confidence in themselves as inhabitants of the earth.
For grades one through four, practical, hands-on experiences in areas such as farming, carpentry, cooking, and buying and selling provide a rich basis for both the mathematics and language arts curricula. Children create their own textbooks, complete with drawings, diagrams, and text. Vocabulary and comprehension is consciously built through repeated exposure to high-level literature as well as the teacher’s own stories, and math skills are developed through activities that encourage pictorial, flexible thinking and creative approaches to problem solving. Each child develops the will to face increasing challenges through their daily practice of the arts, physical activity, and project work.
Literature is the source for the continued development of the children’s character and free sense of self in the world. The grades children revel in age-old stories such as Reynard the Fox, whose actions cause increasing harm to those around him. They are also told stories of people who have overcome great inner obstacles to do good in the world. Both are told without the teacher’s interpretation. The teacher creates opportunities for the children to come to their own true feeling for morality instead of teaching character skills in simple lessons. Thus the integrity of each child is developed from the inside out.