Third grade is often a year of dramatic transformation for the student’s individual identity. At around nine years of age, students experience a new sense of self as they ask and are confronted with the question, “Who am I in relation to others and to the world?” Waldorf educators identify this important transition and realization of selfhood as the nine-year change. At this time students move their feelings inward as they become more independent in thought and action.
Often students become more critical at this stage; they are beginning to test everyone and question everything. In class work the children hear the Bible Stories of the Torah, which serve as a metaphor for children’s inner experience at this age. Adam and Eve had to leave the Garden of Eden, and third-graders see that they must one day leave the parental nest and make their own way in the world.This transitional process is supported in the curriculum by connecting students with task-oriented experiences in life, often called "Doing Work." The curriculum responds to this need to experience how to provide for the basic necessities of life through the study of gardening, food preparation, house building, and other hands-on practical tasks. Children develop an appreciation for the important work of the farmer in nurturing, cultivating, and protecting each of the kingdoms of nature. They take on more responsibilities and “do work” to experience the ways that they personally affect the world. In this way they see the evidence and outcomes of their efforts. As groups they gain ownership of projects and participate in communal initiatives to achieve practical goals like building a shelter, and participating in a five-day class field trip to a working farm in the midwest.
In addition to “Doing Work” third graders also read and write more independently and learn cursive. A weekly Sabbath observance, and holiday celebrations throughout the year immerse the students in the language and culture of the Jewish people. In Math, fractions, multi-digit multiplication and long division are introduced. There is continued practice with the four basic operations. Children learn measurement (distance, capacity, weight and time) which is an important component in the gardening, shelters and building blocks. Children master their multiplication tables through movement and memorization practice.
- Rudolf Steiner, Founder of Waldorf Education
Main Learning Objectives
- Main Lesson Skills: "Doing Work," Life Skills, Farming, Hebrew culture and language, Individually build a scale-model diorama "shelter project."
- Language Arts: Stories from the Torah; spelling skills, independent reading and writing, dictation practice, nouns, verbs and adjectives, Cursive Handwriting
- Mathematics: Multi-digit multiplication and long division are introduced. Children learn measurement of distance, capacity, weight and time. Children master their multiplication tables through movement and memorization practice.
- Sciences: Farming, Shelters, Farm Field Trip where students work in the fields.
- Art: Painting, Beeswax Modeling and Drawing
- Foreign Language: Spanish
- Handwork: Crochet
- Music: Singing, Pentatonic Flute, Recorder.
- Gym: Students begin taking gym with a year of cooperative games