In the Primary Schools (1-6), the day usually begins with Morning Circle activities. Through games, movement activities, verses and recitation, the children greet each other and their teacher whilst practising gross and fine motor skills as well as language and literacy skills. The Morning Circle brings the children into the rhythm of the day and a readiness to learn.
Our highest endeavor must be to develop free human beings who are able of themselves to impart purpose and direction to their lives. The need for imagination, a sense of truth, and a feeling of responsibility—these three forces are the very nerve of education.
We shouldn’t ask “What does a person need to be able to do in order to fit into the existing social order today?” Instead we should ask “what lives in each human being and what can be developed in him or her?”
“The children entering Class One have a wish to learn in a more conscious way, to learn from a teacher and be involved in more than play and activity, they want to really learn.” Australian Steiner Curriculum Framework
In Class One, informal play-based learning gives way to structured lessons which are teacher directed. The rhythms of Kindergarten now begin to take on the more formal aspects of a timetable with lessons at particular times of the day.
Learning to write, read and spell are outcomes which all children are expected to achieve, our methods are not determined simply by trying to achieve these outcomes in the quickest possible way. Each activity and each Main Lesson is designed in such a way that it will be of value to the children in their development as human beings. Each is a rich experience in which many senses are stimulated and in which the child’s thinking, feeling and willing are engaged in the appropriate way for the age. A multi-sensory approach is used in which all the arts are integrated into the classroom activities. As a result each child develops academically, aesthetically and kinaesthetically. Out of experiences in which the whole being of the child is involved, knowledge and wisdom will develop when the children’s intellectual and reflective capacities unfold later in their schooling.
The first Main Lesson of the year for Class One is Form Drawing. The children are guided by their teacher to create a number of forms through visualising, moving and drawing the forms. Through these activities the children balance, harmonise, extend and align the lines, ribbon forms, vertical symmetry and geometrical forms. To be able to start and stop a line helps children to sense the boundaries of their own space and form. The forms develop fine motor skills, balance and self movement along with an increased sense of body geography.
The Alphabet & Letters
During the first Introduction to Letters Main Lesson, the children learn in developmental sequence from the inner experience of concrete images to the external formation of abstract symbols, from pictures to print. The imagination provides a bridge for the transition to external print: a story is made of images, of concrete incidents and figures that live in the child’s imagination. The story is made outward in illustration and/or dramatic presentation ie a scene/ image is drawn or and/or acted out. From this concrete image of something which the child visualises in his/her imagination, the abstract shape of a consonant is derived eg the tree in Cinderella becomes a T; the kangaroo in an indigenous story becomes a K. Vowels are more subtle expressing inward emotions, and are derived not from concrete images but from moods and gestures.
The introduction of the letters of the alphabet unfolds through a series of stories of the folk tale/ fairy story genre. The sequence of learning is:
- Teacher telling of a story narrative
- Illustrating a central image from the story
- Deriving a letter from the image.
Phonemic awareness is strengthened through alliterative verses derived from the story material which rhythmically repeat the sound of the letter. The oral delivery of the story (teachers tell, not read, the story) and the poetry of Morning Circle build a language rich classroom.
Mathematics & Numbers
Through number qualities the children experience how the created world is formed out of number principles and patterns, both within the human being and in the natural world and its mineral, plant and animal kingdoms. This leads to a possibility for connection of the child to the environment, for appreciation of beauty and sense of meaning. In the first number Main Lesson, the children learn about the quality of number through games, stories and activity which bring them into direct relationship with each number.