In Rudolf Steiner schools the class teacher generally moves up through the primary grades with the children. This affords a sense of security and continuity of teaching for child, parent and teacher. Class teachers continue to move with their class group.
Classroom work is carefully structured with a rhythmic balance of activity which helps keep the children fresh and receptive throughout the day. The first part of the morning focuses on ‘Main Lesson’ work in which a subject, such as maths or literacy, is concentrated on for several weeks. This allows in depth studying of new subject matter.
The Main Lesson is followed by ‘practice sessions’ in which previous main lesson content is revised and developed. The afternoons comprise of a range of artistic and practical activities such as craft, music, cooking, sport, gardening, art and drama. A unique aspect of Steiner education is the sequence of ‘Epoch stories’ that feature at each level from Class One to Class Eight. Rudolf Steiner suggested that the myths and legends that arose during each epoch of civilisation was an appropriate foundation for story-telling, literature, drama and thematic class work when matched with the corresponding stage of development in children aged between seven to fourteen years of age.
Class teachers can attest to the validity of this direction as they witness how easily and enthusiastically the children relate to the sequence of the stories that are brought to them. Through story, the groundwork is laid for the study of moral development, history, geography and sciences.
Music is essential to Steiner Education. It nurtures the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual aspects of the growing child and enriches the child’s learning experience.
Classes 1 to 2 children sing together in unison, and their songs are often linked to the main lesson topic and their class play. Recorder is introduced in Class 1 and the children learn traditional melodies that are often linked to stories.
In Classes 3 to 4 the children begin singing rounds and songs with two-part harmonies. This is an age when children begin to see themselves as distinct individuals and learning to hold different harmony lines can be very enriching. The songs often support the main lesson topics. This is the time when the children begin to learn a stringed instrument, and they continue to play the recorder.
In Classes 5 to 6 music becomes more complex. The children continue to sing together in class and in their plays. They continue to play their recorders and they develop their skills on their stringed instruments. They can all read music and are able to play in harmony in their ensembles. Concerts become exciting opportunities for the children to show their abilities and improvements.