In my last post I discussed how having a home education philosophy, in my case Steiner/Waldorf, helps remove a lot of the stress of educational gaps and provides guidance on what to teach when. If you haven’t read that yet, I recommend you leave this post for a few minutes, go and read that one, then head back here.
Today I am going to do a lot of the legwork for you and go over the block topics for each year. All the way from first grade through to sixth, which takes us to the end of primary school here in Australia. This is a summary of the information contained within the ACARA guidelines. There are guidelines available for the highschool years as well, and I will summarise those for you another day. Yes! You can do this all the way through to graduation.
These are the suggested blocks from the ACARA guidelines for Steiner Education in Australia. They vary slightly in detail from guidelines elswhere, but they adhere faithfully to Waldorf pedagogy. Where there is a difference between the Australian guidelines and other sources, I tend to follow the Australian guidelines for ease of complying with state registration requirements.
The Australian guidelines do make recommendations for including Indigenous studies in each year level. In our own homeschool I have decided to widen this to include not just Aboriginal Australian stories, but stories of Indigenous peoples worldwide and particularly from the wider Pacific region. This is especially true when it comes to including Maori story in our curriculum, both because this is my children’s heritage and because of the close ties between Australia and New Zealand. I think it’s really important that our children are raised to understand the cultures of both lands.
If you are using the block rotation guide below, I want to encourage you to do the same and include stories from the Indigenous peoples of your local and surrounding areas, to include stories from your cultural heritage, and stories from around the world. Educating our children towards peace requires us to give them the tools they need to understand other people. What better way to do this than the way humans have always shared their culture and history; through story. Anywhere I have specified an Australian topic, just substitute in your own country.
Not all blocks need to be Main Lesson blocks. Some may be used as Middle Lessons (also called ‘practice lessons’) instead. Blocks can also be combined where necessary and suitable. You can also choose to break a topic into two smaller blocks if this works better for you.
One more thing to note before I jump in to what’s on the agenda for each grade. This is just a summary of the topics to bring to the child in each of the year levels. It isn’t a complete list of academic goals, or an explanation of the why of the blocks. I have attempted to make a note of the suggested academic focus for each topic but please remember this style of learning is multi-modal so many blocks will cover more than one subject area.
The first grade in homeschool should be a gentle introduction to academics. We don’t want to rush our children out of their childhood and into their heads.
Form Drawing– straight and curved lines
Folk and Fairy Tales– letters and alphabet
Folk and Fairy Tales 2– beginning texts, sight words and phonetics
Indigenous Story– basic sentence structure, sight words and phonetics
World Folk Tales– story sequencing and recall, beginning reading
Nature Stories (1 or 2 blocks)
Maths 1– quality of numbers, counting and sequencing to 12
Maths 2– counting, grouping and informal process work
Maths 3– 4 processes, counting to 100, geometric shapes
Maths 4– number processes continued, patterns, addition facts, informal measurement in everyday language, keeping time with music
Form Drawing 2– harmony, symmetry, flow
This year also sees the introduction of recorder playing (or another similar instrument using the breath) and knitting.
Celtic Narrative– basic punctuation, sight words, reading practice, phonetics
Animal Fables– phonetics, syllabication, use of description
Saintly Lives– narrative writing, reading, phonetics
World Legends– focus on reading
Local Surroundings (2 blocks)- exploration of environment and biomes primarily through Dreamtime stories and animal tales
Maths 1– number patterns and times tables (2x 3x 4x 5x 6x 10x)
Maths 2– place value to 1000, four processes work (still horizontal), number bonds, recognising coins to $1
Maths 3– magic numbers, odd and even, gathering and drawing information
Maths 4– layout of sums (moving from horizontal to vertical working)
Form Drawing– metamorphosis, transformation, horizontal symmetry
Purl stitch is introduced in knitting.
Literature of Creation and Tradition (stories from the Old Testament, Maori and Aboriginal creation stories and other creation stories from around the world)- reading skills, writing short texts and beginning to edit own work
Ancient Literature of Authority and Rulership-creating their own narratives from listening to a spoken story, spelling rules, prefixes and suffixes, reading
Grammar-the 4 basic parts of speech, types of nouns, sentence structure, comma usage
Reading Program– comprehension, different types of texts, spelling rules, contractions
Farming and Gardening– food, clothing, furniture, bush foods
Building and Shelters– the body, the house, the environment, the community
Maths 1– processes and strategies, numbers to 10 000, times tables, 2 operation problems, rounding
Maths 2– measurement of length, weight and capacity, picture graphs, estimations
Maths 3– measurement of time, including its development through history, clocks and calendars
Maths 4– measurement of money
Form Drawing– horizontal and vertical symmetry, inside/outside symmetry, fourfold symmetry
Crochet is normally introduced in this grade.
Myths of Northern Europe- paragraph structure, planning, drafting and editing own texts, types of sentences, verb tenses, linking words in sentences, reading a range of literature and text types, spelling rules, vocabulary development, comprehension strategies
Art & Science of Writing- recall, write and illustrate stories of writing development, working on their own handwriting development, practice of a variety of scripts
Arts of Language & Literacy- sentence types, propositions, book reviews, writing and presenting short speeches
Spirituality of the Dreaming- understanding and organising information, writing own story books
Local area mapping- scale, grid reference, symbols, key, estimating distance on a map, using a map, identification of plant and animal species in local area
Local region mapping & history- understand and describe changes in local area usage over time, map areas of historical significance, make detailed maps, journal writing, local area resource identification, understanding the relationship between the environment and the community
The Human Being and The Animal Kingdom- special features of humans, unique qualities of animals, understanding animals in their natural environment, humans and tool use, humans in service to the world
Maths 1- number processes factors, multiples, long multiplication and long division, addition and subtraction to 100 000
Maths 2- fractions visualise fractions in relation to the whole, recognise common fractions, solve addition and subtraction with a common denominator, understand the equivalence of fractions
Maths 3- fractions continued convert improper and mixed fractions, solve simple multiplication of fractions, understand and solve simple division of fractions
Maths 4- freehand geometry tangents, degrees of a circle, name and define angles
Form Drawing woven and braided forms, rosettes
Cross stitch is usually introduced in this grade.
Ancient Cultures (India, Persia, Egypt)-
drafting, editing and rewriting, punctuation for direct and indirect speech, extended vocabulary and spelling strategies, reflective writing, identification of clauses, subject and object, verbs and phrases. Understanding the history and culture of the regions studied.
Ancient Cultures 2 (Greece)-
sequencing, main point and support. A study of classical Greek literature. Understanding the history and culture of Ancient Greece and its impact on our own culture.
English Language and Literacy-
identification of verbs in active and passive voice, elements of adverbial and adjectival phrases identified and used, punctuation including colons, semicolons, hyphens and brackets
Local Region & State History/Geography-
indigenous perspective, colonial settlement, arrival of the First Fleet, convict settlement, exploration, farming. Reading and writing of journals, biographies, maps
growth of plants, parts of plants, comparison of plants and animals, use of plants
Maths 1- decimals
base ten system, addition and subtraction to two places, multiplication by 10 and 100
Maths 2- decimals and fractions
rounding, factors and multiples, equivalence, using four processes with decimals to two places, data gathering, display and interpretation, measurement using decimals, use of four processes, fractions, decimals and measurement in problem solving and mental arithmetic.
Maths 3- The World of Mathematics
complex times tables revision, significant and non-significant zeros, practice and extension of past topics including complex problem solving
Maths 4- Geometry use of geometric tools, understand and use geometric terminology, spatial thinking
labyrinth, botanical forms, point and periphery relationships
Handwork this year includes knitting with four needles, often to make a pair of socks, as well as sewing from a pattern and more complex embroidery work.
History of Rome- development of chronological thinking, creating timelines, understanding the politics, geography and culture relevant to the time period and its legacy, develop skills in independent research
Wonder and Wisdom of Words- study and write a variety of poetry, reflection on life influences, description and comparison in writing. May be presented through the traditional sixth grade study of the beginnings of Islam and Christianity.
English Language and Literacy- business report writing, book reports, complete dictation, summarise narrative element, identification of derivations, meaning and spelling rules. This is not meant to be a block in and of itself, rather these types of activities should be brought to the student throughout the various blocks.
Australian History- history of Australia up until Federation, both as narrative and chronology, identify and describe key historical figures, extend geographical knowledge of Australia, appreciate the traditional lifestyle of indigenous peoples, begin to understand the environmental impact of European colonisation. Pioneers, settlers, gold rushes, multicultural Australia. Differing perspectives based on race, culture, gender, etc.
Geology- rock types and origins, connection to mountain shapes, differences and classification, connection between humans and geology of the landscape, rock strata, geology and settlement patterns around the world.
Gardening/Horticulture- Care of plants and soil, sustainable gardening practices. This is recommended as a practice lesson, not a main lesson.
Astronomy- star paths, identifying planets in the night sky, use the Southern Cross as a clock and calendar, and to find true south, appreciate the connection between plants and celestial movements as part of a study on vegetation zones.
Introduction to Physics- acoustics, optics, warmth
Introduction to Physics 2- electrostatics and magnetism
Business Maths- basic principles and terminology, investigate tables and graphs, bills and bank statements, use decimals, fractions and percentages in problem solving.
Maths- number and algebra consolidation of skills, laying the foundations for algebra, everyday problem solving using bills, bank statements, timetables, etc., probability. It is suggested that the information be presented over two main lesson blocks as well as practice blocks.
Maths -geometry and measurement careful and accurate construction of complex geometric forms, accuracy in measurement, geometric representation of mathematical operations, measure and name angles, bisect lines and angles. This replaces the form drawing lessons. It is recommended to include one main lesson block as well as practice lesson time.
Australia and the World Beyond-
overview of Australia’s diverse geography and climate zones, the connection between our geography and history, our connection to the world, resources and trade, environmental issues. These topics can be presented as additions to the above mentioned sixth grade blocks.
Handwork continues to extend from the work in previous years.
Now this is quite the longest blog post I have ever put out there to date 😉
I hope that it gives you a good overview of what to expect in the primary school years and a sense of where you are heading. I also hope that putting it all together on one page like this hasn’t left you feeling overwhelmed.
Please remember, this is just a guide. You should always look to the child in front of you for the final word on what to include each year.