First Grade Syllabus
A rich and nurturing first year of formal education!
by Donna Simmons
Our Christopherus First Grade Syllabus has been updated, enlarged and improved. While we have kept the flow and the stories the same as in the past, we have added extensively to the teaching instruction, child development discussions and advice on subjects such as drawing. We have also added color pictures throughout and extended our handwork and crafts sections.
The Christopherus First Grade Curriculum
First grade is an exciting year — the dreamy sense of oneness with the world that is the birthright of all tiny children is starting to fade and the child is becoming his or her own person. It is time to wake up, to start to stretch his artistic sensibilities, to bring consciousness and awareness to what he does and to begin to engage the intellect. But gradually, very gradually. As I say elsewhere in this syllabus, it is time to ask the question, “How do I help this child fit into (incarnate into) his body?” That is the challenge of first grade.
More, perhaps, than in subsequent grades, first grade must be experienced by your child as a unity. She must feel that he is beginning a journey but not that a host of new things are being thrust upon her. Use this syllabus as a guide and please always remember that in writing it, we can seem to be presenting “one correct way”. And not only that, but because we have to split up the subjects so as to explain them to you, they can seem like a series of unrelated things to do. This is not the case. We leave it to you to draw the subjects together, to go beyond the seeming divisions created by schedules, and create a coherent experience for your child.
We begin, with the first main lesson of the year, with the theme of “School Readiness”. These two weeks are devoted to form drawing, lessons which will help your child become aware of himself in relation to his work. Beginning handwork in these weeks also brings form and consciousness to your child, helping to gently awaken him from his kindergarten sleepiness to a readiness for school work and formal learning.
Throughout the year, subjects such as form drawing, handwork, modeling and painting enhance and strengthen not only the child’s artistic sensibilities, but her burgeoning sense of grasping and forming his world. To be able to think and act creatively in the world requires flexibility, foresight and the right balance between planning and spontaneity. Artistic and craft work develop these qualities.
We base our weekly schedule on a 4 day week. The weeks add up to a 31 week year. This gives lots of time for holiday preparation, outings and other important activities which complement and extend a rich first grade at home.
This is the only Waldorf-inspired 1st grade curriculum available written by someone who has not only been involved with Waldorf all her life as a student, teacher and parent, but is a homeschooler as well!
First Grade Curriculum Outline:
Language Arts – Full step-by-step instructions to introduce capital and later small (lower case) letters with an emphasis on carefully forming the letters and understanding their sounds and picture-qualities. The lessons, which take place over 4 main lessons, are constructed to accommodate the wide variety of skills that first graders typically have: some children will finish the year just able to form and recognize the letters; others will have taken significant steps in reading and spelling (Word Families). All letter stories are included. Recitation of poetry, orally encapsulating stories, form drawing and copying sentences into a main lesson book complete language arts. We also provide an extensive list of read-aloud books with guidance on how to choose stories to read. Full instructions and guidance on story telling is also provided
Science/Nature – Our year’s worth of Nature lessons are fully integrated with seasonal changes and thus we advise homeschoolers to schedule these lessons according to the climate where they live. A full range of crafts and outdoor activities ensures that no matter where you live, your child will have a rich nature experience this year. Cooking lessons and other craft activities are integrated into the yearï¿½s seasonal approach. Stories are included.
Math – The year’s 3 math main lessons focus on the Quality of Numbers (introduction to numbers 1 -12 and an understanding of the “wholeness” of each); the Four Processes (taught via “Math Squirrels”); and a block on consolidation of what has been introduced. Mathematics is taught holistically, always going from the whole to the part and with an emphasis on the four processes as interrelated tools, never as separate operations.
Form Drawing- We begin the year with a 2 week form drawing main lesson which prepares the child for the work to come, helping her to develop the qualities of attention to detail, perseverance, balance and harmony needed for healthy growth and development. Further form drawing lessons are scheduled throughout the year.
Specific Circle Time routines and suggestions are given, assuring that subjects such as math and language arts are worked with at other times than during main lessons.
Specific advice, outlines, goals and lessons are given for cooking, music, painting, drawing, movement, handwork, crafts, games, health and safety, social studies, gardening and form drawing.
The Syllabus is full of pedagogical advice, help that will enable parents to understand not only what to teach their child, but how and, most critically, why. Sage advice from veteran homeschoolers on what they did (or didn’t do!) when they taught first grade at home and an excerpt from a lecture by Rudolf Steiner ensure that our First Grade Syllabus is a rich and helpful resource, of use to any homeschooler, beginner, or old-timer!
You Really Made Our First Year A Great Experience
I have been using your 1st Grade Syllabus, and almost every other book in your homeschool series that is age appropriate for my 5 and almost 8 year old daughters! I am thoroughly enjoying the whole concept, and experience, of teaching this way, even though I had had no previous experience with Waldorf at all. You have done a super job and really made our first year of homeschooling a great experience. Our almost 8 year old was in public school for 1st grade last year and I took her out of there in March because it was not working well, to say the least, for her. She was actually diagnosed with anxiety, but her teacher had repeatedly talked to me because she thought my daughter had Asperger’s syndrome or something along that line due to her behavior. We are all at home now and everything is going great!
My Load Will Be Lighter Using Donna’s Syllabus
I just completed reading through and then planning out my blocks for first grade using Christopherus Homeschool Resources’ First Grade Syllabus. What a wealth of information and help! I have always chosen to use a more labor intensive curriculum and have avoided the ones that are laid out for you day by day. Donna’s syllabus strikes the balance between “here it is, spoon fed to you” and ‘here are a few ideas, now go make up your own”. I feel that with her syllabus I have the freedom to meet my first grader’s interests and needs as well as make sure he is receiving a good solid Waldorf first grade education.
I was pleased to find Donna’s scheduling ideas, her advice on teaching and storytelling, as well as the stories! Each subject is discussed in ample detail and then each block is laid out for you to use. Each block contains ideas as well a good direction and choices for what to do on the subject. And, the true help for me….the part I have difficulties with…..she has a Lesson A and B for each block (recorder, painting, drawing, modeling, baking, etc.) there too! No more sitting with all my Waldorf books piled around me looking for crafts that I don’t have the stuff to do.
Because I also have a 5th grader this year, and it looks to be a very intense year, Donna’s syllabus has saved me so much time and struggle. I am not entering this year as prepared as I wanted to be, but I have great confidence that my load will be lighter using Donna’s syllabus.
Thank you Donna for making a Waldorf education possible for my children, and thank you for making it easier.
KP from California
Customer Testimonial - First Grade
I ordered a first grade syllabus along with a few other curriculum books from Christopherus about 3 weeks ago. I just wanted to let you know how wonderful all of it is. It amazes me how thorough and organized it is. It is exactly what I had been hoping for in my homeschooling adventures. I just want to let you know how impressed I am. Once I get a bit more organized, I will surely be using more of your resources. Thank you again!
Lia from Madison, WI USA