This is a great post on the topic from Melisa Nielsen of A Little Garden Flower; you can listen to this series on her Gnome Home Radio Show and also see this blog post where she details exactly what you will need for the grade you are coming into:
Several important things for people to realize when coming into Waldorf late:
A Grade One child should be seven for most of Grade One, a Grade Two child should be eight for most of Grade Two and etc.
The academic level of your child is important, but that is NOT how we pick grades within the Waldorf curriculum. The curriculum speaks to the AGE of the child, not the academic level. The academic level can be adjusted up or down, but the Grade One child needs fairy tales, the Grade Two child needs the fables and archetypal Saints and Heroes block (these are not taught within a religious context but an archetypal context to show the duality of man), etc.
Consider what lives within you. There was a recent debate on Melisa’s list regarding whether or not Native American Tales belonged within Third Grade or Fourth Grade. There has been debate as to whether Old Testament Stories should be solely within Third Grade or within both Third and Fourth Grade. (Donna Simmons ended up putting a block of Old Testament Stories in her Fourth Grade Curriculum and she outlines the reasons why here: http://christopherushomeschool.typepad.com/blog/2009/06/ot-stories-again.html).
Consider how to make things your own. Many folks celebrate the Jewish festivals in collaboration with their Third Grade Old Testament Stories (and remember, these stories are taught within an archetypal example of Man and Authority – something a child going through the nine-year-old change will deeply connect with!) but you do not *have* to do this. I actually am not certain this practice started until recently…. I personally have not decided if I am going to expand this way during our Third Grade Year or not, but the lucky thing with homeschooling is that we have the choice to decide!
The point is, though, that in general you will come to trust the curriculum and how it so beautifully meets the developmental needs of the child. Read Steiner for yourself and make things your own, but also trust that the tales of each grade will meet your child no matter what academic level your child is.
Many people come to Waldorf thinking it is outside nature time, all knitting and handwork, gnomes and fairies and protective bubbles; or they come to Waldorf late and think a fifth grader needs to hear fairy tales because they missed that! No, we work with the child where they are…get to know the curriculum and what each grade has to offer to your child to optimize their development.
Much love and many blessings,