Waldorf Education developmental overview

Early Childhood Education  The capacity for serious academic work and thinking in the high school is first prepared through healthy play and artistic learning in the kindergarten and lower grades. Children are not rushed, but encouraged. The atmosphere surrounding the child is filled with beauty, morality, and role models worthy of imitation. At this age the children need warmth and protection to develop their capacities in a natural, supportive, non-competitive and free atmosphere for creative play and work.

Grades 1 – 8

Children between the ages of seven and fourteen learn best from loving and consistent authorities who embrace the world with interest. At this age the arts are integrated into school subjects in order to engage the children’s feelings so that they will value the world and want to master the basic academic, artistic, practical, and physical skills they will need for life.

High School

High School students learn best in an atmosphere of challenge and enthusiastic expertise in which they can exercise their independent thinking. At this age students deepen their understanding of the world through challenging intellectual study as they begin to develop real mastery of their artistic, scientific, literary, historical, and physical capabilities.

An example of an American Waldorf Curriculum

History, language arts, science, math, and history are taught in main lesson blocks of three to five weeks during the morning main lesson hours.

Primary Grades 1-3 

Pictorial introduction to the alphabet, writing, reading, spelling, poetry, and drama. Folk and fairy tales, fables, legends, Old Testament stories. Numbers, basic mathematical processes of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. Nature stories, house building, and gardening.

Middle Grades 4-6 

Writing, reading, spelling, grammar, poetry, and drama. Norse myths, history and stories of ancient civilizations. Review of the four mathematical processes, fractions, percentage, and geometry. Local and world geography, comparative zoology, botany, and elementary physics.

Upper Grades 7-8 

Creative writing, reading, spelling, grammar, poetry, and drama. Medieval history, Renaissance, world exploration, American history, and biography. Mathematics, geography, physics, basic chemistry, astronomy, and physiology.

Special Subjects

Special subjects also taught are handwork: knitting, crochet, sewing, cross-stitch, basic weaving, toymaking, and woodworking. Music: singing, pentatonic flute, recorder, string instruments, wind, brass, and percussion instruments.

Foreign languages (varies by school)

Spanish, French, Japanese and German. Art: watercolor painting, form drawing, beeswax and clay modeling, perspective drawing.


Eurythmy, gymnastics, group games

Ninth Grade

English: literature, English skills, grammar, composition, vocabulary, speech. Foreign Language: Spanish, French, German or Japanese (varies by school). Math: algebra 1, probability and statistics, introduction to computer education. Science: chemistry, physics, biology, geography. U.S. History: early American history and government. World History: revolutions and history through art. Music: performing choir, orchestra, and jazz band or beginning instruments (varies by school). Art/Crafts: black and white drawing, woodworking, drama, calligraphy, clay (varies by school). Physical education and eurythmy.

Tenth Grade

English: literature, term paper writing, grammar, composition, speech, poetry. Foreign Language: Level II Spanish, French, German or Japanese (varies by school). Math: geometry and surveying. Science: chemistry, physics, biology and geography. U.S. History: the period 1789 through 1914. World History: ancient history, Greece, and the Far East. Music: performing choir, orchestra, and jazz band or beginning instruments (varies by school). Art/Crafts: drama, woodworking, block printing, weaving, clay, pottery, drawing, painting (varies by school). Physical education, eurythmy, health, keyboarding, and first aid.

Eleventh Grade

English: literature, composition, grammar, and vocabulary. Foreign Language: Level III Spanish, French or German. Math: advanced algebra, computer science (varies by school). Science: chemistry, physics, biology, biology lab. U.S. History: World Wars to the present. World History: Rome, The Middle Ages, and The Renaissance, music history. Music: performing choir, orchestra, jazz band or string ensemble (varies by school). Art/Crafts: bookbinding, clay, life drawing, drama, woodcarving (varies by school). Physical education, eurythmy.

Twelfth Grade

English: literature, review of English skills, word usage, vocabulary, composition, honors program. Foreign language: Level IV Spanish, German or French, Honors program and AP (varies by school). Math: trigonometry, pre-calculus and/or advanced math, AP. Science: Chemistry, physics, biology, Honors program and AP (varies by school). U.S. History: development of the 19th and 20th century economic theory from the rise of mercantilism to the present. World History: architecture, modern art, Third World nations, symptomatology. Music: performing choir, orchestra, Honors program (varies by school). Art/Crafts: clay sculpture, carpentry, jewelry, graphic design, metalwork, Honors program (varies by school). P.E. and eurythmy.

For more information on Waldorf Schools

Worldwide www.freunde-waldorf.de/en/info/welt/
North America Why Waldorf Works www.whywaldorfworks.org/