Ten-year-olds are “out in the world” much more than they were even a
year ago. They seek independence, objectivity, a sense of direction and
spatial orientation, and empathy with others. Eleven-year-olds are
poised between the early grades and the upper grades, having achieved a
newly easygoing, cool, calm and collected demeanor—an emotional Golden
Age also referred to as “the calm before the storm” (of adolescence).
ten-year-old grows quickly. Limbs lengthen and grow more capable. At
some point before turning twelve, the child achieves a balanced,
perfectly proportioned stage of physical development, sometimes called
the “Golden Age of Childhood.”
4th and 5th Graders are balanced between past and future in terms of
their ability to think, which develops rapidly yet is still colored and
shaped by strong imaginative capacities. The uncompromising logic of the
Upper Grades has not yet appeared.
How the Waldorf Curriculum Supports Each Stage
4th and 5th Grades are pivotal years. The curriculum is increasingly wide-ranging and challenging:
- spatially, it leads students ever further into the world—from
their local sphere of reference (their rooms) out to the continental
level (North America), from where it will continue to grow each year
until it reaches the global level by 8th Grade;
- temporally, it leads them ever closer to the present moment—from
an ancient mythological consciousness onto the stage of history, a
journey culminating in the modern day in 8th Grade.
The subject matter grows more intellectually demanding, but learning
continues to be an engaging, multi-sensory, whole-child process that
addresses all learning styles. The rich, colorful curriculum
incorporates music, art, poetry, drama, crafts, and movement. Homework
now appears, consisting primarily of creative projects, reading,
completing class work, practicing one’s stringed instrument, or a
challenging math problem.