The TRCCS curriculum is guided by the Core Principles of Public Waldorf education. The Waldorf method is a tried and true method of education with 94% of students attending college or university. It was developed by Rudolf Steiner in 1919 for the children of the employees of the Waldorf-Astoria Cigarette Factory in Austria.
We believe that children learn through their hands and heart, meaning that if children can manipulate something or use movements like those used in dance and art and if something affected them emotionally through story, music and art, the lesson or concept would get implanted in their minds. We also believe that children have an innate attraction to nature. When in natural settings, children are amazed and yearn for explanations of the animals and insects, the seasons and climate, and the vegetation around them. We used these elements as a foundation of learning, adding in more conceptual elements as the children’s minds advance. Our curriculum is an integrated approach to learning.
A second unique characteristic of our curriculum that teachers follow their students from first grade to as high as eighth. This long-term teacher/student relationship extends that level of trust, fostering a deep understanding of a child’s individualism, abilities, and needs. Knowing the students allows teachers to deftly adjust their approach and choose their stories, activities and projects to best meet the needs and interests of his or her particular class.
A third distinctive element bases what children are capable of learning on the phases of human development. For example, after the first phase of development (birth to approximately age 7) when children generally lose their baby teeth, children are then able to put more energy into forming concepts and memorizing content. Consequently, our school does not teach traditional academics prior to first grade. Then, starting in first grade, we teach academics in a way that allows for a gradual unfolding of the intellect.
We can not be accredited by the Association of Waldorf Schools of North America because only private schools can achieve this accreditation: http://www.whywaldorfworks.org/. We are members of the Alliance for Public Waldorf Education: http://www.allianceforpublicwaldorfeducation.org/. Our teachers are all DPI certified with additional training in Waldorf and other non-traditional educational methods.
A fourth difference is that students learn “main lesson” subjects in blocks of 3-6 weeks, going deeply into the particular subject matter in a multi-disciplinary way every morning for that period of time. For example, in first grade the blocks rotate from language arts, to mathematics, to nature studies, and back through again. Other time during the days and weeks will be spent on these subjects as well, but the main lesson time is focused on presenting new content in a holistic way, while other time is spent on practice. In addition to main lessons, students have music lessons and handwork (such as knitting). Students begin a French immersion language course starting in 1st grade as well.
A final big difference is the de-emphasis on technology, preserving students’ innocence and imagination and deepening their wonder of nature, particularly during a child’s early years. During later years (5th and 6th grade), TRCCS will begin to introduce technology so that when the children begin attending public school they will have the same understanding and skill sets as their peers. Standardized testing will follow state mandates and take place on computers; students will be prepared ahead of time so they have the skills necessary to complete these tests to their full potential.
Core Academic Subjects:
Students in TRCCS learn all the of the core academics that students in a traditional setting learn; it is the approach to that learning that is fundamentally different. The Charter School has a commitment to developing curriculum that applies to the common core standards. The Charter School works closely with the public school so that when the Charter School’s children transfer the transition is easy for students and teachers.
During Prekindergarten and Kindergarten faculty focus on hands-on activities and experiences that promote students’ physical development, sensory-motor skills, social development and creative play. In 1st through 6th grade, the curriculum emphasizes the development of imaginative thinking (key to problem solving and analytic reasoning), while helping students deeply understand and connect to what they learn. Students engage in artistic activities that are directly integrated into the academic curriculum, thus deepening their social and emotional connection to their subject matter.
As stated previously, TRCCS approaches learning with lengthy focused time where lessons are taught in two-hour blocks for up to six-week increments. These lessons are called Main Lesson blocks and are developed by the teacher. Main Lessons are taught through stories that draw children into a world of imagination and learning. For instance, a teacher may teach children about ancient Egypt telling stories of pharaohs and their agricultural discoveries. During these lessons the children may erect pyramids (learning geometry, building techniques and teamwork), plant grains (learning gardening, weather patterns, geography and work ethics), make masks and head dresses (learning about art and hierarchy), and other practical, life-preparing lessons. Students are not given text books; they create their own as they learn.
Seasonal and daily rhythms help provide consistent structure of our educational process. The integration of core subjects with arts, drama, painting, music, movement and handwork create the opportunity for children to better understand those subjects and directly relate them to themselves and the world around them. Our teachers will create a classroom environment that optimizes the learning ability of every student regardless of difficulties a student faces in learning.