For the 2017-18 school year, our grade school spans first through third grade.
The curriculum in the elementary grades meets the child’s emerging intellectual capacities through the use of imagination that fosters a well-rounded understanding of the material. All subjects – language arts, mathematics, science, form drawing, foreign language, handwork, and sports–are introduced creatively through stories, poetry, and movement, helping students imbibe the subject with a sense of beauty and feeling. Whether it is lying down in the shape of an S to feel the letter in the body, introducing multiplication through a story, or ‘seeing’ sound through Chladni plates, when children have lived fully into an experience, they are able to understand it deeply and arrive at the concept themselves. Such learning preserves a sense of wonder, enlivens the imagination, and imparts a sense of ownership and responsibility for the learning process.
Each school day begins with a two-hour Main Lesson, which focuses on one academic subject for a block of three to four weeks. This immersion approach allows the teacher ample time to integrate a wide variety of cultural, artistic, and practical activities into the lesson, enabling the children to fully experience and deeply comprehend the material. Out of such experiences, students create their own record of the main lesson in a Main Lesson book using original handwriting and carefully rendered illustrations. Creating one’s own book, rather than simply reading a textbook, is a joyful experience that anchors knowledge solidly and instills a natural confidence in the child that they can use their thinking and imagination to accomplish goals.
Subject lessons are taught by teachers who are specialists in their fields of German, Indian classical music, handwork, gardening, games, and fine arts. These subjects help to support and integrate the academic work of the Main Lesson, besides teaching specific skills.
"She returns from school with a calmness inside her. Her head seems clear. She falls asleep easily when she gets into her bed at night. She wakes up fresh. She is learning to eat wholesome and healthy food because her peer group in school does that without a fuss. She loves handwork, which is an important part of their curriculum. Given a chance, all children love handwork. We bought crochet hooks and borrowed wool from my mother’s collection. We bought a skipping rope and she has started keeping score of her skipping prowess on her blackboard at home. She has learned to knit. She continues to collect and play with pebbles. She doesn’t need us to tell her what to do with her time. She asks questions about how things work, wanting to understand. She runs around the house doing chores on behalf of all of us."
Parent of Grade 3 student