The grade school years are a thrilling time of discovery. As their sense of self evolves, children develop more dynamic understanding and abilities. We design our curriculum to support children through the gradual transformation of their consciousness as it shifts from a pictorial to a conceptual focus, with all of the social, emotional, intellectual, and physical complexity that entails. A remarkable phenomenon happens at our school: because the culture engages the whole child, from the senses to the heart and the mind, students are excited to go to school each morning. They're excited about learning.
Students learn through “block teaching,” focusing on a single subject for several weeks to enhance concentration, engagement, and retention of material. Immersion gives children the space and time to draw powerful connections between new concepts and more familiar subjects. After the morning academic work comes the continuing skills work in English, mathematics and foreign languages, as well as the artistic, practical, and movement classes. All of these activities—such as woodworking, eurythmy, and performing arts—promote flexible thinking, self-awareness and the capacity to understand multiple perspectives. The ability to identify and inhabit other viewpoints is not only an important component of empathy, but an increasingly valuable skill in a global society.
Along the way, our faculty are important touchstones for every student, providing security and continuity in the passage from childhood to adolescence. Our teachers advance with one class of students through the grades, allowing them to develop a deep understanding of each individual’s character, learning style, life experiences, and interests. This design allows teacher to dynamically respond to the needs of each student and of the class, both in the moment and through the years.
At Maine Coast Waldorf, we also recognize the important learning that comes from struggles. We all hit stumbling blocks in our studies; every student finds that there are some subjects and skills that come more easily than others. Our teachers help students develop strategies to work through their harder endeavors and keep larger goals in mind. The recognition and awareness that this is a natural course of learning helps students persevere, develop resilience, and gain confidence in their ability to meet new challenges. And through practice—in the arts, handcrafts, and physical activities—students come to see that they can rely on themselves to accomplish anything with time and focus. This important realization then transfers to new challenges. While intrinsic motivation can’t be taught, we strive to create the conditions for students to find it within themselves, becoming lifelong learners in the process.