Age 6 – 7
The first major stage of early childhood development is now coming to a close. There is in the Class 1 child less rapid physical development; growth forces are now concentrated on “independent, representational, pictorial thinking” (Rawson p36). The child is now ready for the beginning of “formal” education.
At Casuarina School, Kindergarten teachers assess children for readiness for entering Class 1. The child is about to embark on a journey with a class teacher that will last several years.
In Class 1 the children are developing social skills to work as a harmonious and co-operative group. The Main Lessons provide the foundations the children will require as they progress through their school years.
Class 1 Developmental Overview:
- Physical: Change of teeth, especially 6-year-old molars. Head/body size ratio changes, limbs grow longer and there is usually a loss of “baby fat”.
- Emotional: Still a certain dreaminess, but becoming more “connected” with the earth and the world around them, especially with nature and others.
- Cognitive: Ability to focus is developing but concentration is still limited. The child is full of imagination and lives in a world of colour and pictorial thinking. The child responds to learning through pictorial and rhythmic activities.
- Social: The child has a greater wish to perform independent action rather than imitation. This is a gradual change in their development.
Needs of this age:
- Security & support:
For their emerging independence as they move a little away from home life and into a formal school environment.
To experience themselves within a sense of wholeness – as individuals upon the earth, relating to nature and other human beings. To be able to relate to the world with wonder and reverence.
To relate abstract symbols (letters and numbers) to their worldly experience.
Steiner Curriculum themes and methods to meet the needs of this age:
In Class 1 the most important way of meeting the children’s needs is in the way the content is introduced. The gradual change from activity and imitation in the kindergarten to more formal learning in Class 1 is facilitated by involving the imagination of the child – through stories, rhythm, pictures, and songs. These help to connect the new concepts to the child’s own experience.
- Fairy stories and folk tales:
Based on archetypal images, fairy stories and folk tales nurture the child’s sense of wholeness and morality.
Stories convey the assurance that good overcomes evil. Fairy stories contain archetypal pictures of the individual striving to find their way in the world, often assisted by nature. A range of cultural stories, particularly from the indigenous Australian culture, are told.
- Nature stories and nature activities:
Particularly those showing the seasons and cycles of the natural world, bring an understanding of the oneness of humankind, nature and the heavens.
Seasonal festivals and seasonal cooking are celebrated, and bush walking is normally included on a weekly basis.
- Form drawing:
In preparation for writing letters & numbers abstract symbols are brought to life through physical activity. The children form shapes and movements with their bodies and concrete materials (eg beeswax), before putting them on paper.
- Letters of the alphabet:
Each letter is introduced through story and pictures chosen for their relationship to the nature of that letter. The letter name and its sound/s is also introduced and reinforced in many activities. Each letter then develops its own special significance.
- The four mathematical processes:
Addition, subtraction, multiplication and division are introduced through personification in story and picture, giving character and moral qualities to these abstract concepts. For examples, the addition character may accumulate and hoard his wealth while the division character may divide and share his kingdom.
Main Lessons Class 1:
- Form Drawing (pre-writing practice)
- Capital Alphabet
- Phonics x 2
- Lower Case Alphabet (towards end of year if class is ready)
- Home Surroundings
- Nature’s Script
- Aboriginal Dreamtime Stories
- Counting – Numeral introduction
- Counting skills
- 4 processes (including problem solving and estimation)
- Equations – linear
Class One Themes:
- Fairy Tales
- Folk Tales
- Dreamtime Stories
- Nature Stories
- Seasonal Cycles and Changes
- Themes in practice & subject lessons:
Free play, games and group activities to help social interaction.
Games to support literacy and numeracy and concentration games.
Artistic work, modelling etc on main lesson themes to reinforce the beauty of nature.
One of the principal aims of class 1 is to form a cohesive social group, who respect the authority and abilities of the teacher. This can be achieved through:
- Establishing new rhythms and a new way of working for the class, including working at desks at least part of the day, taking on responsibilities, practicing tidiness, etc
- Cultivating a respect for the environment and each other
- Group activities- singing, verses, games, and movement