If you’ve had the experience of binding a book, knitting a sock, playing a recorder, then you feel that you can build a rocket ship-or learn a software program you’ve never touched. It’s not bravado, just a quiet confidence. There is nothing you can’t do. Why couldn’t you? Why couldn’t anybody? 

-Peter Nitze, Waldorf and Harvard graduate, and Director of an aerospace company

Grades Overview 

The journey from First Grade through Eighth Grade at Whatcom Hills Waldorf School is guided by the understanding that children learn best through lessons that awaken their feeling life, as well as engage their creative forces. Our curriculum is a time-tested, rigorous academic education brought to life by the class teacher who integrates storytelling (fables, mythological sagas, and stirring biographies of historical figures), drama, rhythmic movement, visual arts, and music into their daily work, weaving a tapestry of experience that brings each subject to life in the child’s thinking, feeling, and willing. Here you will find that arts and academics are inseparable, beauty and ideals are woven into lessons, and facts are infused with meaning  through first-hand experience. A Waldorf education is often called a ‘living education’ because of this, delivering a solid academic foundation without relying on rote memorization of facts. 

Children also expand their education by exposure to a number of specialty and enrichment classes every day such as art (watercolor painting, modeling, drawing, form drawing), Spanish language instruction, handwork, choir, music, movement (physical education), gardening, eurythmy and woodworking. Each year students participate in weekly assemblies, class plays and regular field trips, including regional Waldorf school events which are all carefully integrated into the curriculum.


Typical Day:  

Start 8:30am • Main Lesson • Snack/Recess • Specialty Class (2) • Lunch/Recess • Specialty Class (2) • Close 3:00pm 

* Classes are dismissed at 1:15pm on Fridays *


First Grade 

After their experience in Kindergarten, the First Grader is physically robust and ready to begin working more in the mental realm. Structured academic learning administered with joy, love, sympathy and creativity helps the child develop the art of good manners and self-discipline while continuing the cultivation of their imagination and curiosity. The foundations for literacy and numeracy are laid through repetition, imitation and the rich, beautiful images and musical sounds of stories. Special subjects such as knitting, form drawing and eurythmy are introduced, which reinforce the right and left brain connection and support math and language skills.

Curriculum includes:

Fairy tales, pictorial introduction to the alphabet, writing words and sentences, reading, nature walks and observation, numbers and counting, and introduction to the pentatonic flute.

 

Second Grade

While the social cohesiveness and friendships so strongly fostered in First Grade begin to take root, individual differences also become more apparent in Second Grade. Eager to explore the world around them, the child begins to be aware of their separateness from others. This sense of polarization is explored in the two extremes of moral conduct illustrated by fables and stories of “saints” or modern day compassionate people. Math and language foundations from the previous year are built upon. During their second grade year, children are assessed for their academic, and physical motor-sensory development. This information is used by the class teacher to address each child’s unique needs, and for further assessments or referrals if necessary. 

Curriculum includes:

Fables, legends, folk tales, writing, reading, spelling, nature walks and observation, foundational arithmetic operations, and continued pentatonic flute playing.

 

Third Grade

Significant, psychological, physiological and cognitive changes take place in this year making it a “Crossing Point” for the child. This is when children may start to question everything and feel separate from the world. Some may suffer from loneliness and fear. This is an important time for the child to learn self sufficiency, investigate what it means to have a respectful relationship with the earth, and grow self-esteem through lots of hands-on work and the mastery of wonderful challenges.

Curriculum includes:

Tales & legends of Indigenous peoples, Hebrew stories, language arts, arithmetic, measurement, house building, cooking, fiber arts, agriculture & gardening, music notation and introduction to the diatonic flute. Third graders participate in their first regional overnight event. 

Regional Waldorf Event - Plough Days at Sunfield Farm & Waldorf School in Port Ludlow.


 

Fourth Grade

The Fourth Grader is encountering “SELF”.  Coming out of the “nine year change”, fourth graders emerge as more confident and ready to begin to explore personal interests, gifts, strengths and challenges. The Norse sagas, full of strong-willed characters adventurously exploring the world around them, are an appropriate historical backdrop for fourth graders and their unbridled curiosity. Their geographical outlook is extended outwards from their school/home environment to their neighborhood, city and county, then all the way to the state boundaries of Washington. The study of the Salish coastal tribes of our region, as well as historical vignettes enliven the fourth grader’s connection to the land and its use over time.

Curriculum includes:

Local history and geography, mapmaking, Norse stories, language arts, arithmetic, fractions, zoology (human & animal studies), continued diatonic flute playing and an introduction to an orchestral string instrument (violin, viola or cello.)

Regional Waldorf Event - Potlatch - A Gathering of First Nations, with First Nation Elders at the Whidbey Institute, WA. 

 

Fifth Grade

The Fifth Grade child is at a point of harmonious balance between childhood and adolescence, between the inner feeling world and the emerging world of intellectual objectivity. History moves from the mythological perspective to actual events, stirring the child’s experience of their own humanness, while geography leads the children further away into unfamiliar lands. Now it is possible for the child to gaze into the greater outer world while becoming ever more conscious of the world within. 

Curriculum Includes: 

Ancient history (India, Persia, Mesopotamia, Ancient Egypt, and Greece.) Significant figures are studied through stories and practical activities such as Buddha, Zoroaster, and Alexander the Great. The study of Ancient Greece at the end of the year, transitions the History curriculum from mythology to recorded history. Fifth grade also brings botany, North American geography, decimals,  arithmetic, the metric system, geometry and free-hand geometric drawing, language arts, an introduction to woodworking and continued flute and strings instruction.

Ski Day at Mt. Baker, Washington 

The Mountain School at the North Cascade Institute 

Regional Waldorf Event - Greek Games/Pentathlon

 

Perceiving beauty activates the same circuits that are active when we are highly curious. In effect, perceiving beauty may be a biochemical correlate of curiosity. From this perspective, the practice of play and the experience of beauty exercise critically important brain circuits involving the capacity to sustain attention, to engage in problem solving, and to come alive in a world full of wonder 

Henry Emmons, MD, David Alter, PhD

Middle School Overview

The developing adolescent learns the value of meaningful human connections and transformative artistic expressions through an exceptional, integrated curriculum of math, science, humanities, world languages, the arts, music (broadens to choral singing, recorder ensemble, band and orchestra) and movement. Our Waldorf teachers present academics experientially, with a focus on cause and effect, asking students to use careful observations before jumping to conclusions. Through these experiences, Waldorf students cultivate the intellectual, emotional, physical and spiritual capacities to be individuals certain of their paths, and to be of service to the world.


In Grades 6-8 we teach digital literacy using the popular Cyber Civics curriculum which is used in many Waldorf Schools across the country. Cyber Civics emphasizes critical thinking, ethical discussion and decision making about digital media issues, all through role play, hands-on projects and problem solving tasks.


Typical Day: 

Start 8:30am • Main Lesson • Snack/Recess • Specialty Class (2) • Lunch/Recess • Specialty Class (2) • Close 3:00pm 

* Classes are dismissed at 1:15pm on Fridays *


Sixth Grade 

In Sixth Grade the child takes a firm, intentional step into the outer world, while also having increased awareness of the physical self and bodily changes. Geological study of the earth, the rise and fall of the Roman empire, and the Medieval age all speak to the developmental stages of the sixth grader. The child is able to relate to the logic, discipline and orderliness of the Roman era while empathizing with the struggle and growth it represented in human history.  The sixth grade curriculum offers students the opportunity to use their developing understanding of causal relationships and to sharpen skills already developed in previous grades. 

Curriculum includes:

 Ancient Rome, the birth of Islam and Christianity, Medieval Europe and the Crusades, world geography, geology and mineralogy, business math, percentages, geometry, language arts and an introduction to cyber civics and physics.

North Cascades Backpacking Trip

Regional Waldorf Event - Medieval Games/Decathlon 

 

Seventh Grade 

As the Seventh grade student enters puberty they are on their way to selfhood. Their intellect is growing and expanding in new ways. Students relate readily with the history block of the Renaissance and Reformation which show the flowering of human potential, art, science and learning. The study of biographies of people who struggled with existing authorities and social institutions to bring about great change speaks to this developmental stage.

Curriculum includes:

World and European history including the Age of Exploration, the Reformation, and the Renaissance. Other subjects include astronomy, inorganic chemistry, human physiology, physics, algebra, geometry, world geography, poetry, and language arts.

3 Day Sailing Trip aboard the Adventuress Schooner - PNW 

Regional Waldorf Event - Renaissance Fair  (Held at WHWS)

Regional Track Meet 

 

Eighth Grade 

The Eighth Grade student experiences a birth into more of an intellectual consciousness, and crosses the threshold from childhood into adolescence. Eighth graders become more aware of themselves, their drives, and the rhythms of their bodies. Students are encouraged to take greater responsibility for their learning and are given the opportunity for self-discovery through a year long “Eighth Grade Project” involving a mentor from the greater community. The overarching theme in this year is for students to find their connection to the whole world and, through that process, come to know themselves. As the eighth grader asserts their independence, they look for examples of earnest striving in the adults around them. Historical studies of revolutions and struggles for independence speak volumes to them. The year culminates in a special graduation ceremony celebrating each student’s individual accomplishments throughout their educational journey at our school. 

Curriculum includes:

American History including the Iroqouis Confederacy, first settlers, the US War of Independence, slavery, the US Civil War and reparations, Industrial and Technological revolutions, algebra, solid geometry, organic chemistry, meteorology, physics, physiology, and world geography.

8th Grade Challenge course (backpacking and rock climbing in the North Cascades)

Regional Waldorf Event - Middle School Dances (Held at Seattle)

Regional Track Meet

Culminating Field Trip - 5-7day field trip kayaking in the San Juan Islands or river rafting in Utah.

 

For more info or to enroll click here

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