The Waldorf third grade curriculum marks the change to a more individualized presence in the children, as well as a new readiness for academics and a corresponding need to experience the work of the real world in a practical and meaningful way. Third graders are ripe for practical experience. This need is met in the curriculum through the study of gardening, food preparation, cooking, shelter building, and clothing. Throughout the curriculum, teachers provide students with strong role models who show courage and determination.
In Waldorf education, we recognize the third grade as a significant year of developmental change and self-discovery for students. The third grader leaves the world of imitation behind and transitions into a consciousness of greater individuality. The nine year old becomes more self-aware. They begin to see the world with new and different eyes. The individuality of the child begins to come to expression, as the child acquires a dawning awareness of their separateness from the surrounding world. This awakening in consciousness enables another capacity—to gradually be able to become more objective in relationship to themselves and the surrounding world. As a consequence, they also become less naïve and less open. They are no longer content to be a part of life without doubts or questions. They may become more critical and may also feel lonely in this new awareness.
Our third grade curriculum is designed to give children a broader view of the world around them. The primary lesson material features stories of the Hebrew legends and Old Testament stories. This serves as an appropriate metaphor for the child’s inner experience. The child understands on some level what it is to leave paradise, step into the real world and begin to stand on his or her own.
In language arts, students dissect parts of speech in grammar, as well as continuing to work on spelling and cursive writing to facilitate independent writing skills. Students learn valuable lessons through the themes of creation stories, house building and farming. In history, children will study different human shelters from world cultures, and delve into Native American study.
Topics in mathematics include carrying and borrowing, number patterns, long division, natural geometry and measurement. In science, students study the cycles of nature and learn about telling time through patterns of the sun, sand and water, as well as the analog clock. Third grade students continue their world language studies, learn to play the lyre and recorder, enjoy movement in the eurythmy and Cooperative Games curriculum, and continue painting, crayon drawing, clay modeling, knitting and crocheting.