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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.

A Rough Guide to Eighth Grade

by Donna Simmons

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  • Format: eBook
  • Extent: 21 pages, PDF download
  • Product code: CHRPDF8

Our Rough Guide to Eighth Grade will help you schedule, plan and teach 8th grade at home.

The goal in 8th grade, Rudolf Steiner made clear, is to bring the child up to the modern age in terms of knowledge of history, science and human culture. A tall order in Steiner’s day – and almost impossible in ours!

How exactly to fit all this in and how to structure your child’s 8th grade year at home depends largely on two factors: 1) what kind of schooling he will receive from 9th grade on and 2) what his interests are.

If your child is continuing at home into high school, then you can relax a bit and not worry about spilling over into 9th grade with, for instance, science. But if he’s going to school, you also need to be mindful of requirements that he needs to fulfill for high school. If, for instance, he has never had any formal grammar lessons at home, English at school could be a real shock. It is up to you and your child to plan and discuss 8th grade in the light of both the usual Waldorf curriculum and your child’s educational future.

And I’ll say “usual Waldorf curriculum” with a grain of salt. Please bear in mind that there is no usual Waldorf curriculum for 8th grade. Most of 8th grade is taken up by working on Platonic solids; fund-raising for the class trip; taking the class trip; a class play (often Shakespeare); and independent projects! Many schools (on top of this) also have classes preparing children for the various high schools they might attend – i.e. classes in “how to take tests” and so on.

Translate this to the homeschool situation and one can easily see the enormous variations which can exist from one homeschool to the next!

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© 2018 Donna Simmons

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