As children greet their teacher for the first handshake, an eight-year journey begins through childhood and into adolescence. This eight-year journey is a time when knowledge of the world must be experienced with one's whole being, a time when truths clothed in imagination nourish the child's soul and become seeds for free, independent thinking. The elements of the core curriculum are as follows:
FORM DRAWING: This discipline helps form an inner foundation for geometry, one's relationship to space, as well as the writing of letters and numbers. Forms are walked, run, drawn in the air and on paper. Symmetry exercises are also done to strengthen the child's relationship to left and right.
DRAWING: Weekly drawing lessons use images from the fairy tales to teach techniques for drawing basic shapes such as people, houses, trees, etc., using block crayons to draw from out of the color. Lines become color limits, and the blending of colors is a major theme.
PAINTING: The class works mainly with primary colors, experiencing the living quality of each color and its relationship to the others.
WRITING/READING: Children are introduced to the letters of the alphabet through imaginative stories, which lead to the drawing of letters, then writing of words and sentences, and lastly the recognition of what the child has written. Consonants, which give form and shape to the words, are developed out of pictorial forms, such as "M" for MOUNTAIN. The vowels, on the other hand, have a more musical, inner soul quality, for example: "A" (AH) expresses wonder. After the letters are learned, word families such as "ING" or "AKE" are introduced. Sentences are also written and read.
SPEECH: The children recite many poems, verses, nursery rhymes, and speech exercises by heart, using gesture. These are recited chorally with emphasis on rhythm, the expression of feeling, and clear articulation. Fairy tales are told by the teacher and retold by individual children on the following day. Dramatization of the stories is also important.
MUSIC: Children sing in the pentatonic mood of the fifth every morning and play pentatonic flutes daily.
ARITHMETIC: Math begins by introducing the quality of each number up to twelve and then introducing the quantitative aspect through counting to 1,000. The aim is to always to work from the whole to the part. Students begin with the sum in addition and the product in multiplication, etc. First graders learn all four arithmetic processes and their interconnectedness. The child is led into counting through rhythmic movement, running, clapping, stamping, etc.
The class uses manipulatives, such as apples, beanbags, fingers and toes, and counting stones, to solve problems using the four processes. Then they are led from the tangible to the realm of pure number in mental arithmetic as a preparation for sense-free thinking. They also work individually, solving problems on paper, and begin a regular practice of many of the times tables.
HANDWORK: The first grade begins the year by shaping their knitting needles, through sanding, waxing and polishing. They learn how to knit and are introduced to the basic skills of casting one and off. They knit squares and learn to shape them into animals by sewing, stuffing, adding tails, ears, etc. Their creativity and powers of decision are being developed for more complicated tasks in later years.
MAIN LESSON BLOCKS IN THE 1st GRADE: Fairy tales, folk tales and nature stories, pictorial introduction to letters; preparation for reading through writing; qualities of numbers; introduction of the four operations in arithmetic.
Spanish: Songs, Finger Games, Fairy Tales
Painting: Primary colors
Farming: Gardens, Exploration and Wonder