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Why is Waldorf math education unique and powerful?

Waldorf Math Pyramid

Current seventh grade class revisiting the pyramid

Waldorf education lays the foundation for each individual to experience the internalization of mathematical thinking.  Like all Waldorf curricula math lessons are carefully planned to meet the needs of the developing child. Math lessons are brought through many subjects and modalities, while mindfully educating and experiencing math through the hands, heart and head.  Waldorf math education involves movement, music, rhythm, art, form drawing, language, creativity, curiosity and wonder, creating a truly multi-sensory approach to mathematics. As a result, Waldorf students acquire a deep mathematical understanding that they carry throughout their lives.

Below is a brief overview of how math progresses through the grades.

Math Through the Grades

The rhythm of the day, of nursery rhymes and poems, and the social considerations of how many friends need a place setting or a swing are all integral parts of the youngest child’s day in a Waldorf early childhood classroom.

Waldorf First Grade Math Story

Grade 1 – The story of King Plus, Queen Minus, Magician Multiply and Doctor Divide

In first grade, students learn that numbers exist everywhere in the world, especially in nature. Through this holistic approach to learning math, the special significance of the number one is discovered (as in one universe, one human being) and students explore the numbers that are found within each being (each person has two eyes and two ears, four limbs, and so on). In this way, the mystery of numbers is introduced and is further explored through the grades. In first grade, the four math processes are taught simultaneously because they reinforce each other (multiplication is fast addition, division is fast subtraction) and while learning math facts we begin to develop a general number sense which is so important for subsequent work in mathematics.

Grade 2 - Counting star for the four table

Grade 2 – Counting star for the four table

In third grade, practical math activities such as measuring, understanding the calendar, and furthering comfort with the four mathematical operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication and division) are the bulk of the math program.

In fourth grade, working with fractions is a perfect topic because the children are experiencing an “existential fragmentation” of their world as they begin to separate from their parents and the journey toward puberty begins.

Waldorf Math fraction tree

Grade 4 – The fraction tree

In fifth grade, comfort with decimals as additional expressions of fractions is a central math theme.

Sixth grade is a time to deepen the math learned thus far, and be introduced to the concepts of business math and more formal geometry lessons.

In seventh grade, learning about ratios (relationships of one number to another) complements the child’s experience of working through relationships between themselves and the world. During the seventh grade year, we continue with geometry studies and add formal algebra into the curriculum (although algebraic thinking has been part of the math work through all of the grades).

The culminating year, eighth grade, is dedicated to deepening the algebra work, geometry of solids, and might also include work with number bases and loci, among other math topics.

Along the way, math terminology and general concepts are also taught through the languages of German and Spanish, and all of the math work is beautifully complemented by many handwork activities and eurhythmy designed to bring mathematical understanding into the will.

By Dianne McGaunn, 8th Grade Math Teacher and Math Mentor

Pioneers in Soccer

soccer

This fall the Waldorf School at Moraine Farm team fielded its first ever soccer team. Calling themselves “The Pioneers,” they opened the season with a tie as they found their footing and began to gel as a team. It didn’t take long, as experienced and new players alike quickly became a cohesive unit. The team finished strong, winning its last 5 games for an undefeated (5-0-1) inaugural season.

Players, coaches and parents gathered after the final game last week to celebrate the team’s success and to thank the dedicated efforts of coaches Daniel Foster, Luciano Sappia and Christine Garcia-Akers. Coach Foster praised all of the players for their courage and for the support they showed one another throughout the season. Captain Quinton Dooley, speaking for himself and his teammates, closed the evening by noting how grateful he was finally to have a soccer team. Everyone is looking forward to building on these successes next fall!  -J. Cosco

An Inspiring Visit

Shabana and Susan

Shabana Basij-Rasikh, founder of SOLA, with Susan Viets, Administrator at Waldorf School at Moraine Farm.

The  7th and 8th grades were visited today by Shabana Basij-Rasikh.  Shabana shared that as a young girl in Kabul, Afghanistan, her parents, strong advocates for education for girls, dressed her as a boy in order for her to walk freely in the streets and secretly attend a school for girls. This was at great risk of death by the Taliban, which controlled the city. Shabana spoke to the students about her passion for education: “When you educate girls, you educate boys, too. For those girls become mothers who then have sons and share with them a passion for learning for all.”  She spoke passionately about students as leaders and told our students that they need to know that their work can change the world.

Eventually, Shabana came to the United States to attend Middlebury College. On returning to Afghanistan,  she founded the SOLA (School of Leadership Afghanistan), a boarding school for girls.  Students are taught in English and many find sponsorships to help continue their education in Europe and the United States.

We were happy to host Shabana today and her message served as an incredible reminder of the freedoms we enjoy in the United States — both in terms of educational opportunities and opportunities for girls and women.  She encouraged the students to travel and begin to get a perspective on their own lives by building their relationship to the whole world, and not just their town or country.

The following shares some of the stories from the young women at SOLA –

 

Letter from Our New Administrator

SVietsBioPhoto

Dear Parents,

Welcome to the beauty of early September and all of the possibilities the beginning of a new school year holds. My daughter Maren, in fourth grade, and I are filled with joy at joining the Waldorf School at Moraine Farm community.

Having worked for non-profit educational organizations for more than 25 years I have come to realize that Waldorf Education worldwide is the healthiest model of education available today. At its highest striving, Waldorf Education serves as a vehicle for social change in our challenging world. On a regional level, it is a model for other school institutions in integrated curriculum and relationship building. And finally on a personal level, the teachers, staff, and parents who support Waldorf education are some of the most thoughtful, loving, and insightful people I have ever met, and we have consciously come together to raise our children as creative and engaged participants in life.

I know that even within such awareness there are struggles and challenges within communities; this is the wonderful tension of a growing and evolving group of people. As the new administrator, I look forward to facing these challenges with openness, honesty, and the willingness of heart to listen to other points of view. I know that amazing things can happen. In the few short weeks I have been at Moraine Farm I already feel an energy of positive potential all around. I feel blessed to have been invited to help support the next stage of development of this lovely school and school community.

I look forward to hearing from every one of you, your hopes and dreams, for your children and for the school.

Warmly,

Susan Viets

Administrator

 

Waldorf School at Moraine Farm Alumni Stand Out in Science

Earlier this year, a graduate of our class of 2011 was selected as a finalist for this year’s Massachusetts State Science and Engineering Fair for her research on the Effects of BPA on the Regeneration Rate of Lumbriculus Variegatus (Effect of plastics on worm reproduction).  She presented her findings at MIT in early May.

A member of our class of 2014 was one of 5 students recently selected to represent his high school in the New England 1:1 Summit in Burlington, Massachusetts. This is a regional education summit where schools leading the way in technology-based education systems share their successes and challenges. Students are selected to represent the school based on their mastery of the technology and their clear perspective on its educational value.

Well done Waldorf School at Moraine Farm graduates!

Waldorf School at Moraine Farm

701 Cabot Street
Beverly, MA 01915

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