At Camellia Waldorf School, a child’s elementary school education in academic subjects includes hands-on learning as well as music, art, physical education and practical arts. Teachers bring lessons alive by using vivid imagery and absorbing activities that stimulate students’ curiosity – engaging them both intellectually and emotionally.
We use an in-depth block approach of two hours each morning, when the students are most attentive. Each instructional block lasts 3-4 weeks, allowing for a deeper exploration of the subject material and covering the main academic subjects of math, science, language arts, history, and geography. We schedule plenty of time for recess and incorporate time in nature. Homework is age appropriate and kept to the essential in the early grades to allow more family time.
Teachers typically teach the same class for a number of years, allowing teachers and students to know and understand each other in a deeper way. These long term-relationships enhance each child’s learning, confidence, social and emotional skills, and feeling of security.
Our curriculum is multidisciplinary, multicultural, and experiential. Specific subjects in grades 1 through 5 include:
Math: Our approach to math includes multisensory, hands-on activities and manipulatives. Children learn all the basics of addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, multiplication tables, measurement, weights and money, telling time, long division, double-digit multiplication, proper and improper fractions, decimals, percentages, and free-hand geometric drawing.
Language Arts: Waldorf education offers a rich oral environment and story-telling tradition that boosts children’s vocabulary, language, and comprehension, and leads to strong reading skills. Beginning in 1st grade, children begin with learning their letters. Parts of speech, grammar, verb tenses, cursive writing, independent composition writing, poems, and book reports come in later grades.
Science: The approach of the early grades starts with imaginative nature walks, stories, and hands-on gardening, building up to more in-depth studies of botany, plant life, animal studies, and zoology in later elementary school.
Geography: We begin by studying the child’s home, school, and local area, then move on to California and North American geography and clothing and shelters from different cultures.
History: Early grades start with fairy tales, fables, and saints. Later grades cover heroes, myths and legends, ancient civilizations (including India, Persia, Mesopotamia, and Egypt), Greek mythology and culture, and California history.
Spanish: Beginning in 1st grade, the students learn basic vocabulary, word structure, and expressions essential for everyday communication. The language classes are presented with games, rhythmical activities, songs, and poetry. Cultural components, such as the Day of Dead and holidays in Mexico are also incorporated.
Music: We provide active immersion in music through singing, reading music, and playing instruments such the pentatonic flute and recorder. All students learn either the violin or cello starting in 4th grade.
Art: Art is integrated into the learning process in every subject, through painting, sketching, drawing, and other mediums. In grades 1-3 children paint once a week. In later elementary school years, more formal drawing and sketching is introduced.
Gardening: Children learn how to work with the elements of nature, tending and weeding garden beds. We expose the children to hands-on processes that provide a basis for formal science study starting in 4th grade.
Handwork: Basic skills of knitting, crocheting, sewing, and needlework are taught, helping students develop their fine-motor skills.
Woodshop: Starting in 5th grade, students learn to use tools and equipment properly, emphasizing safety for all students, and working on individual projects.
Physical Education: In physical education, students start by playing imaginative games and versions of tag. Basic skills such as running, skipping, jumping, swinging, galloping, and skipping rope are practiced through play. As the children get older, cooperative games are introduced, as well as historical sports such as the javelin, discus, long jump, short- and long-distance running, wrestling, as well as circus arts and team sports.
Drama: Every spring, each class performs a class play related to the curriculum of that year.
Field Trips: Beginning in 2nd grade, classes go on day trips and overnight field trips related to the curriculum of each grade.
After-School Sports: Starting in 4th and 5th grades, students can participate in a number of after-school clubs, include running, flag football, volleyball, basketball, unicycling, and duathlon training.