Why a Rough Guide Instead of a Syllabus
At age 12, in 6th grade, things change dramatically and this is seen clearly in Waldorf schools. The demands of the curriculum are more challenging and the variations from one school to the next far greater. There certainly is a clear curriculum, based, like the rest of the curriculum, on Steiner’s indications and on the traditions of Waldorf schools over the years, but exactly what is taught, in which grade it is taught, and how it is taught vary considerable. One even gets the situation, as in the US, where certain Waldorf schools are examining the possibility of establishing Waldorf middle schools, separate from grades 1-5.
At home the situation is even more dramatic. Children between 12 and 14 need to come into the world more and their homeschooling experience must include lessons taught by people other than their parents. To successfully homeschool children of this age - to truly meet their developmental needs - one must utilize the resources in one’s community and expand beyond the home. And this necessarily means using curriculum materials in a looser and more individualized way.
In light of the need for more flexibility and individualization in the middle school years, instead of a formal 8th grade syllabus, we are offering a range of materials and guidance on how to put together 8th grade lessons.
Putting it all Together
Although both the Waldorf Curriculum Overview and From Nature Stories to Natural Science are invaluable guides to Waldorf education throughout the 8 years of elementary school, it could well be that you feel it is unnecessary to purchase these if you are only homeschooling an 8th grader. However, we cannot deny that both these guides do have very useful information in them!
If you did not cover electricity and magnetism in 7th grade, we recommend Rudolf Graf's cheerful guide Safe and Simple Electrical Experiments this year.
Master Waldorf science teacher Manfred von Mackensen provides us with a wonderful series of lessons for an 8th grade lesson on human biology in his book Uprightness, Weight and Balance. Another text to use for 8th grade human biology is Charles Kovacs' Muscles and Bones.
History lessons bring the 8th grader all the way into modern times, and biography is the means by which the struggles and achievements of human beings in different historical periods come to life. We are pleased to offer Biographies for Eighth Grade History to you. The Age of Revolution by Charles Kovacs will provide the narrative for many of your history lessons year.
For language arts this year, we recommend Gabriel Arquilevich's Writing for 100 Days. If you did not use Dorit Winter's The Art and Science of Teaching Compossition last year, we recommend you do so this year. We also recommend that you choose a suitable volume from Vocabulary from Classical Roots. (I have used volumes B and C with 9th and 10th graders.)
Our basic math text for 8th grade is John Blackwood's Mathematics in Nature, Space and Time,. Your child will need practice work books and we recommend you choose from Key To's excellent booklets. We also recommend you consider L. George Saad's Developmental Mathematics books if your child is weak or has gaps in her basic math. We used Level 16 for both our sons to ensure they had covered all the required material before going to high school. View our guide to Key To workbooks.
Two other vital components of your child's 8th grade education are Learning about the World through Modeling and Painting in Waldorf Education. These are as important for 8th grade as they were for all the preceding grades!