Welcome to the overview of our home-schooling curriculum at WIHS. We follow the structure as outlined below, in our 8 key-phases of development.
This is the year in which all the letters of the alphabet are introduced, writing and elementary reading, as well as the numbers 1 to 100 and the four processes. Everything comes out of stories and fairy tales, which reflect the still dream like nature of the imaginative life of this age group. Learning, this year, is a celebration of learning, rather than endless repetition and practicing.
This is a time of deepening, practicing and expanding all that has been achieved in the first year. This time, the new material is drawn from both legends of wise and holy people and from fables about animals. They reflect the duality of our higher and our lower nature, and guide the child to find their own variation of the golden middle ground.
This stage accompanies the child through a process of becoming more independent. The source of this year's curriculum are the Old Testament stories, as the experience of Adam and Eve, and all of early mankind, can be paralleled to the one of this age group, and represents an inner guide and comfort. They went before us in exploring and learning how to live on this earth. So we study house building, farming, natural fibres, measurement, and a deepening of survival skills like reading, grammar, spelling, cursive writing and more complex arithmetic.
Here, the nine and ten year old child hears the Norse Myths and Germanic Sagas.At this stage of development, children have truly 'arrived on earth' and real battles begin ~ both within them and with the people in their lives. Countless battles between good and evil, light and dark, strong and weak, mirrored in these stories, take place ~ a healthy and necessary process of growing older and wiser. So, we study Local Geography and History, The Human Being and the Animal Kingdom, fractions, grammar and spelling. Independent reading and book reports and many other projects are done.
The fifth year is, very much a golden year. Even physically, at the age of ten and eleven, breathing and heartbeat are in perfect harmony, and the children have arrived at a state of peace within themselves. This is the year when mythology turns into history: there is a gentle thread leading from Indian Mythology (including Hindu stories and the life of the Buddha) and Persian and Babylonian stories (the wheel, writing and also dividing time into a system of sixty, was invented in Ancient Mesopotamia, for example) to Ancient Egypt, where we arrive at history ~ real history with physical pyramids to witness its material reality. The last term tells all about the Ancient History of Greece where democracy and philosophy were discovered, and, in secret societies, even the possibility of an ‘irrational number’ was discussed (opening up all kinds of possibilities to the next steps in mathematics lessons!)
At the age of eleven and twelve, the child takes a firm and determined step into the world. Great changes are beginning to happen in her and his body. As their bones subtly harden, children become much more aware of their gravity and weight. We accompany this process with the Waldorf curriculum which weaves between leading the child from finding her or his inner self and own humanness, to finding her or his way into the world and in the world.
We study minerals and the structure of the earth, reflecting the physical human body. We study geography, reflecting the children's intentional stepping out into the world. While we also study the earth and its harmonious relationship to the other bodies in our solar system, in astronomy, echoing our striving for finding the higher path in life.
Basic concepts of physics are introduced this year, to demonstrate cause and effect, as the children become increasingly aware of the consequences of their deeds ~ but also, to establish and become aware of the physical laws of our world.
In history studies, the transition from antiquity to the more modern medieval history, mirrors and guides the child through her and his inner transition from the more poetic consciousness to a search for the truth in the form of a more scientific approach. The development of human civilization, over those epochs, can be seen as parallel to the development of the 11 to 12 year old child. The fall of Rome also reflects the bravado of invincibility that we experience at this age, and how we may fall into the Dark Ages and be illuminated by the arrival of Christianity.
In Arithmetic, we deepen the previously learned skills and then move on to the study of percentage and ratio, the relationships between things, and on to the beginnings of algebra.
Geometry becomes very accurate and precise now ~ after all the years of form drawing and freehand geometry, we are, finally, given a chance to be reassured by precision instruments and definite geometrical laws that we can rely on.
"Renaissance Fair" (12 ~ 13 Years Old)
The twelve to thirteen year old child is now developing the capacity to stand back from his or her own feelings and with this new distance, can come perspective and the beginnings of objectivity. He or she feels the need to explore the world; authority is questioned and boundaries are broken. Powers of reasoning are being exercised and
judgments about the world are formed. As the the child experiences these inner battles for self-knowledge, the intellect is born. The study of the Renaissance with all its new impulses, provides a backdrop for much of the seventh academic year, providing lessons in history, literature, mathematics, perspective drawing, science, geography and art ~ all supporting and encouraging the newly emerging impulses in the child.
On one hand, the “Wish, Wonder and Surprise” block, is filled with creative writing exercises, poetry and drama to encourage the child to explore and express the realm of human feeling and to strike out individually and begin to organize and articulate their own observations and perceptions.
On the other hand, meeting the adolescent's need for critical judgement, studies of measurement in maths, science and art are more exacting. Hands on experiments, whenever possible, help us in grounding
concepts in the real world. In chemistry, explorations in combustion, chemical transformation,
acids, bases, salts, lime cycle ~ sometimes fiery, sometimes icy, reflect the inner experience of the student at the age of great extremes. In the physics block, light, magnetism, static and current electricity, mechanics and electromagnetism are explored, bringing to consciousness phenomena well known to us from early on. Likewise in Human Physiology, students are given a firm understanding of their bodies as we turn our eyes inward.
"Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité" (13 ~ 14 Years Old)
This is the last year of our elementary education. We aim to complete a well rounded picture of human life and the world. The journey of the previous seven years has been leading up to this crowning year that enables the child to enter fully and confidently into life. As the young person is transitioning from, predominantly, feeling ~ to the life of thinking and scientific reasoning, truth becomes their main pursuit. The child experiences a yearning for independence, authority is openly and critically questioned and parents are challenged accordingly. The student is increasingly called upon to take initiative and responsibility for self-directed learning and individual judgment. In history, the time of revolutions are studied intensively, mirroring the inner struggle this transition presents to the youngster. As guiding stars, outstanding individuals like Ghandi, Albert Schweitzer, Martin Luther King and other heroes from the twentieth century are studied. The last history lesson ends with the newspaper of the day ~ completing the incredible journey that started with fairy tales, led through legends, ancient mythologies to ancient history and, finally, modern history. Although the periods of time we will study are much shorter than the broad spans measured by Ancient History or the Middle Ages, the complexity of issues that are raised and the intensity of the lives of those who made that history will make for a very rich experience. Music, Art and Poetry spanning these times, are explored on a weekly basis. Geography and Anthropology lessons introduce parts of the world that haven’t been touched on, so that students gain a sense for each of those cultures. We also look more closely at the relation of mineral resources and plant and animal life to the life of human beings in those various regions of the world. We also consider global perspective surveys of land forms oceans, atmosphere, climates and ecosystems, as well as the changes caused by our modern industrial civilisation. In Meteorology, we begin with the careful observation of clouds over a number of days, learning about the development of the barometer, and Goethe’s ideas about barometric pressure as the foundation for understanding weather. We will look at cooling and warming trends in the earth’s atmosphere and hydrosphere that lead to such phenomena as “fronts”, sea breezes and land breezes, and the spiralling thermals utilized by hawks and gliders. We will study hurricanes, tornadoes and waterspouts, and their role as “pressure regulators” in the world’s weather system, and look at how air and water pollution may affect future weather patterns. English studies are developed and practised by students taking accurate notes and writing compositions based on main lesson topics. Different aspects of a subject can be looked at and compared. Grammar will be taught once a week during an English language period. Physics lessons explore the new knowledge of physical science, through hydraulics, pneumatics, aeromechanics, and electromagnetism. In the Organic Chemistry block, we will study sugars, starches, proteins, fats & oils and carbohydrates. We will learn how to use reagents to test for various substances in foods, consider the use of artificial sweeteners, synthetic flavours, preservatives, hardened and processed foods. We will explore the distillation of alcohol, its relationship to plant sugars and to human blood, the connection of plant alkaloids to protein and the role that these organic chemicals play in substance abuse. As laboratory demonstrations aren’t always possible in a home setting, we will observe some experiments on YouTube instead. Mathematics emphasizes the practical applications of arithmetic, algebra and geometry. Demonstrations in plane and solid geometry, measurement of surfaces and volume are included. The Human Being is studied through physiology of the human organism, skeleton, muscular systems, and the senses. At this age, the students are experiencing a period of intense growth. To understand this growth-spurt, we consider the skeleton as a work of art in which form and function are united; the interplay of the straight line and the curve, appears as the underlying dynamic in the form of the bones. Studying the structure, arrangement, and action of muscles, will lead us to the complex interworking of the muscles with tendons, ligaments and jointed bones. In the fourth week we will study the reproductive system and procreation. In Handwork, machine sewing, develops new imagination, skills and techniques in sewing clothing for both practical and decorative purposes, culminating eight years of handwork. In the weekly art lessons, painting moves away from the wet-on-wet techniques, to veil painting. Main lesson subjects will be painted and drawn throughout the year. We will also keep practising our perspective drawing skills.