Wednesday, October 2013
by 3rd grade teacher, Becky Moskowitz
In 3rd grade the child experiences a new outlook; the question arises within the child’s consciousness, “Who am I?” In Waldorf education we recognize this realization of selfhood as the 9-year change. New capacities for thinking and judgment are emerging. The unity of all things experienced in earlier years gives way to an inner/outer dichotomy; “I am here, and the world is there.” This brings self-consciousness and a critical view of oneself and of others. Personal opinions and strong likes and dislikes are emerging. A new realistic view of the world is beginning to manifest itself. The 3rd grade curriculum helps the child move through this developmental stage by studying the stories of the Hebrew Scriptures, engaging in the practical arts of Farming, House-Building & Working Fibers, and practicing the mathematical skills of Measurement, Long Multiplication & Division, Exchanging Currency and Telling-Time.
I have Celebrated Shabbat for many years with other 3rd grade classes, and the reverence and peace it brings to the children is precious...
The hands-on experience of this year’s curriculum includes cooking, building, fiber arts, making transactions with money, reading clocks to tell time, preparing soil, planting, tending and harvesting in the garden. Each activity has the purpose of connecting the child in a very concrete way to the material world. In a sense, the world is demystified by the child’s growing knowledge of how-to-do-things in life – which offers a perfect antidote to the challenges of the 9-year change. Another strong remedy for children of this age is the feeling of reverence.
It’s been said that Shabbat is the most important Jewish holiday because of its weekly rhythm and its emphasis on resting!!! This also connects the students to the story of the Seven Days of Creation from the Hebrew Scriptures and it ties in the idea of rhythm and time.
Every Friday, my class goes to wash their hands and then re-enters the room in silence. I lead them through three Hebrew blessings over the candles, the wine (grape juice) and the challah bread. I have celebrated Shabbat for many years with other 3rd grade classes, and the reverence and peace it brings to the children is precious. We adults have all kinds of religious, agnostic or atheist beliefs but that is not the main purpose of this classroom activity; we celebrate Shabbat because the children need to experience devotion and reverence. I teach the children these blessings and once they have mastered them, we opened up our classroom for parents to join us. This is a wonderful way to create closure for the week and begin the weekend.