Deconstructing First Grade

So, I am busy planning a second go round with first grade (along with fourth).  First grade is really fun, simple to plan (I know it probably doesn’t feel that way when you are going through it for the first time, though!), and can be simply magical.

I think there are several things to consider when planning First Grade.

1.  How long will it take you to get through the alphabet?  All year? Part of the year?  When will you make readers from what your child can already orally recite (verses, prayers, things that are a part of your daily fabric of life) or from fairy tales?  Will this be a separate block, how will this work?  Perhaps you will just pick four fairy tales as an ending block and work on writing a short sentence summary and word families from these tales.  I have seen it done all different ways.

2.   Math should begin right away, at least in my mind.  Do NOT wait until your first math block.  Counting forwards and backwards and even and odd numbers and such is part of your daily opening to school, before you even get to that first math block.

3.  As far as form drawing – we typically start with a form drawing block that last two to three weeks.  Observe your child; know your child.  Will they fatigue with a longer block?  Form drawing should be once a week after that first block, and you may intersperse several more blocks of form drawing throughout the year.

4.  Science takes place through nature tales, through being in nature, nature crafts, through the preparation for the festivals, through cooking and gardening.  These are important activities, and a vital part of first grade.

5.  When will you start recorder/flute/pennywhistle?  Some teachers start around Thanksgiving or even early December, some start in January.  I have not heard of many teachers starting it on day one, although one can start with hand clapping games of the child repeating rhythms back to you through clapping, tapping, etc and  of course singing!

6. Handwork – How will you bring this?  Can you knit? Can your child braid, tie bows, finger knit, make slip knots?  Those are all skills to think about.  Can you show your child sheep, feel raw fleece, wash it, card it?  Whole to parts is very important.

7.  Foreign Languages – Eva over at Untrodden Paths reminded me I left foreign languages out the first time I wrote this post.  In our homeschool, in accordance with most Waldorf Schools, we study two foreign languages.  I picked Spanish and German for our languages as we had native speakers available to us in those areas.  I have several posts on this blog about foreign languages in the homeschool and invite you to refer to those.

Just a few thoughts.

Many blessings,


9 thoughts on “Deconstructing First Grade

  1. Carrie I’ve been reading your blog for over a year now and am so grateful for the insight you give me with every post. I find that I come here over other resources most consistently for a better picture of what I’m trying to accomplish in this household with my four children.

    My oldest will be moving into first grade this coming year, although I’m still debating how far into first grade I should go, because I don’t feel like we got the full kindergarten experience last year… But that’s something else all together. So mostly I was wondering if you knew where to send me to find out the basic mechanics of Waldorf first grade. How the blocks work and what the focus is. I have looked at several curriculums, which can be helpful, but I find that, in the end I want to be able to develop one on my own specific to my daughter, but I’m just needing the basic 1st grade framework to be able to do that.

    I hope this makes sense. And any helpful direction you could send me would be so appreciated. Thank you again for your wonderful blog. One of my favorite things is to have a few spare minutes to cozy up in bed to read your newest bit of inspiration!

    Thank you!

  2. I think that one essential element is missing here: foreign languages! Most European Waldorf schools start two foreign languages in grade 1, the original schools also offered Latin and Ancient Greek later on (eventually the student had to choose between the modern and ancient languages).

    I think it’s very sad that none of the available Waldorf curriculum guides gives any help in this area.

    • Yes, I forgot to mention those…we do Spanish and German in our homeschool, my oldest can read and write and speak in both of those languages..I will go back and add those in, not sure how I forgot!
      Thank you for reminding me Eva!
      Many blessings,

    • Eva – I updated the posts, thanks again for the reminder…and PS I think you should write a guide for homeschoolers regarding German. You are so familiar with Waldorf Education and obviously German culture and language! :)

  3. In my next life — as my mother would say. If you provide me with a cook, babysitter, and housekeeper, I’ll give it a try :). Or maybe in my old age, after Flora is done with school . . .

  4. Hello! I just found your website, and it’s been very helpfull to me to have a better understanding of what Waldorf schools are, this is my first time in a Waldorf iniciative school. I’m from Mexico and I’m an ESL teacher, but as a spanish native speaker I know alot of songs and things you could use for spanish classes.

    • Nadia,
      Share away! Do you have the book Senderos? There are also some conferences in the United States that Waldorf teachers give over the summer to prepare for grades..those might be helpful to you as you learn your way around Waldorf.
      So glad you are here!

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