Physics is an important class for students, because it helps them make sense of the world around them and how it functions.
At the Waldorf Academy in Toronto, we approach it differently than at your local public school, but the theory behind our curriculum is such that it takes advantage of the abilities of the students’ stage of development to enable successful learning.
Changes In The Grade 6 Student Vs. Grade 5
Grade five students are still children, essentially, whereas once children graduate into grade six – the first of the three upper elementary years – they are starting to hit puberty and develop into young adults.
At Waldorf, an alternative middle school, we take these physical changes into consideration.
Grade six is the year that most children become awkward again; as bones grow and limbs develop at an increasinglyfast rate, kids get gangly and uncoordinated as they learn to live in their changing bodies.
The Waldorf curriculum leverages specific topics in the curriculum in order to help them understand the physical world better, with the intention that it helps them accept and adjust to their own physical changes better.
Grade 6 Education
Grade six students at Waldorf Academy have simpler, more accessible lessons about the world.The more nuanced, inclusive thinking is left for slightly older students, when their brains and abilities have developed further.
For instance, they do projects to learn about Roman history, aqueducts, roads, cities, and law.
In gym, they will learn about overcoming obstacles through application of different exercises, and teachers will focus on having them compare and contrast their techniques.
In covering geology and mineralogy, they often go on camping trips so they can experience the physical earth first-hand.
In math, teachers cover perimeter, area, and also expect their students to learn to use a compass and straightedge in producing technically-perfect designs and in drawing specific and exact constructs.
Grade 6 Physics Class
Physics class for a grade six Waldorf students starts with music in order to explore acoustics, then moves on to heat, cold, light, sound and electricity
They study astronomy in order to understand geocentric perspective and orientation between the earth and the sky.
By covering physics through these topics, it helps generate awe for the physical world and enthusiasm in understanding it.By demonstrating the above concepts in novel and interesting ways, it captures their attention and this helps them understand how valuable observation is in learning about natural phenomena.
Rudolf Steiner’s Grade 6 Physics Curriculum
Rudolf Steiner, the founder of the Waldorf Method, advocated a very full curriculum for students in grade six, including: acoustics through music and musicals; the physiology of the larynx; optics; heat; and electricity.
He then described how the grade seven and eight classes springboard from that foundation in order to teach physics with increasingly more complex and theoretical application.
Some teachers think that he asked too much of the students in grade six, especially when they cover the same topics (although differently) in subsequent years.As a result, Waldorf teachers will sometimes bulk together the topic of heat, covering all aspects at once, and move another topic to a different year, in order to be more comprehensive.
By doing so, however, it doesn’t take into account that aspects of each topic are better suited to a more developed brain, therefore taxing their students’ ability to learn the information deeply.
Why Do We Start Physics In Grade 6?
You may be surprised to hear that we start physics in grade six, but we do recognize that children’s brains are developing quickly at this age, and so we treat the subject with approaches that work for their stage of development.
This is why later grades cover the same topics, but delve into more complex concepts, more abstract theories, all of which are built on the information learned in previous years.
Contact Waldorf Academy
If your student is fascinated with the world around them, chances are they would love how Waldorf approaches physics with its students.
As well, grade six is a perfect transitional year to get your child involved in our community, which is very inclusive and active.
Consider puberty to be a threshold to adulthood, and usher your child through our doors and into a whole different type of experiential learning.
Call now to book your tour with our staff, and see for yourself what we can do to contribute to your child’s development and success.