Question: I am teaching my 4th and 6th grader this year. What tips do you have for me using the Earthschooling curriculum that will help me be more efficient? – NF
Answer: Learning tricks to combining the lessons and how to sync them together can save time for you and make the day smoother. These are some ideas we have used in the past. They may not fit everyone’s style and needs but even if you don’t use all the ideas some are sure to be helpful…
Tip #1: Use the Fourth Grade as a Base
The fourth grade is already planned out into daily planners. I would recommend using that as a BASE for both grades. So, for example, if the fourth grade student is studying “Man & Animal” then download a lesson block for the G6 student that is also science related. If your G4 planner says “we do math this week” then download the math block for G6 to do at the same time. When your G4 student does handwork or craft the G6 student can do the same craft or handwork. You can even have the G6 student do some of the G4 lessons WITH the G4 student if they want to. For example, the Man & Animal block is a beautiful and very popular block. Many older students who start Waldorf late go back and do that block. It can be done with students from G4 to G8 and even high school.
Tip #2: Have all students do the same handwork
With handwork, once you reach the G4 level these are activities that anyone ages G4 to adult can do and improve upon each time they do it. I often have my older students go back and do the G3 & G4 handwork to review or to practice. Some students that are new to Waldorf education have never done some of the lessons before even though they are older students. Each age also interprets the work differently. For example, when the students are knitting a horse/unicorn the G4 student might just be doing the basic lesson. However, a G6 or High School student might expand upon the knitting project and add different colors or designs. Their work may also be more precise or they may advance into creating different sizes of the same work.
Tip #3: Have all the students do the same snack, lunch, nature walk, math practice time and circle
Circle time is simply the gathering of the students at the beginning of the day. For the pre – G3 students this involves music and movement. For G4 and up this may be some eurythmy, discussion, sharing thoughts, perhaps a song or a poem, some exercises or stretches or whatever you enjoy doing to start the day. Right after circle time I usually have all the students do fifteen minutes of math worksheets or writing in a journal. All of your students can start the morning this way together.
Tip #4: The G6 blocks are made to work through in order
Once you download a block you have chosen (don’t work with more than two at a time) you will open it to page one and start there. Then just do as much of the lesson as your student is comfortable with that day and move on to the next lesson when they are ready. Looking at how much we have the G4 student do each day on the planner can help you decide how much you want to include in the G6 lesson and perhaps even what kind of assignment to give them. For example, if the G4 student has a drawing as their assignment for the day perhaps have the G6 do a drawing as well (even if it is of a different lesson).
Tip #5: Take the time to read the introduction for each block/planner
Some planners have introductions that go up to 30 pages. As the year goes on these introductions start to repeat and become shorter. However, reading the introduction, no matter how long, will help you so much and save you so much time in doing the lessons. The introductions give you tips, insight and much more into the lessons for that month.
Tip #6: Watch the teacher tutorials WITH your students or assign them TO the students
Your students are old enough now that they can watch the teacher tutorials on their own or with you. This allows you to learn some teaching skills while also “giving a lesson” at the same time. For example, in the G4 teacher tutorial section there is an entire tutorial on using block crayons to do a Norse Drawing. You can watch that and follow along with your student or you can simply assign that video to your student to watch and have them do the art activity that goes with it. These video lessons will greatly enhance your classroom and the lessons can be spread out or you can do them all at the beginning of the year to get a “jump start” on skills for the year.
To see more tips on teaching multiple ages together click HERE for all of our articles on “Teaching Multiple Ages Together”.