6th Grade - Emphasizing the Concrete World
Developmental Picture of the Student
Twelve-year-olds, on the cusp of adolescence, experience a new feeling of weight and gravity in their bodies. They become more aware of their own physicality and they need to feel that they now stand firmly on the earth. They are curious about cause and effect, and they expect straightforward responses to their questions and observations. The sixth grader’s world is delineated in absolutes; they make clear distinctions between right and wrong. (The Romans’ genius for laws appeals to their sense of order and justice.) As sixth graders become more grounded in who they are, they begin to look out into the world to see what it asks of them.
How the Curriculum Meets the 6th Grader
Geology, astronomy and physics are introduced into the curriculum for the first time in sixth grade. The students’ increasing awareness of their physical bodies makes it the right time to study the physical “body” of the earth in geology. Students study rock formations and the forces that change the shape of the earth’s surface. After their attention has been drawn down deep into the earth, it is lifted to the heavens. In astronomy, the students study the relationship of the earth to the stars and planets, starting from a geocentric perspective, just like astronomers of old. This self-centered orientation between earth and sky fits the students own perceptions; later they will discover the heliocentric view.
In physics, the students are introduced to laboratory science. Science in a Waldorf classroom is always based on a study of the phenomena. The students carefully note their experiences in acoustics, optics, heat, magnetism and static electricity in order to discover the lawful relationships in the natural world.
The 6th grader’s world is delineated in absolutes and “cause and effect” thinking so the curriculum focuses on strong guidelines and clear differentiation concepts.
In History, the students grasp the significance of cause and effect in the rise and fall of Rome and its effect on European civilization through the Middle Ages. The Roman’s spirit of conquest and their civilization’s ability to dominate and transform the physical world with roads, buildings and aqueducts is inspiring, but the story has a cautionary side in the equally important consequences of the excesses of the Roman period.
In mathematics, geometric shapes are no longer drawn freehand but precisely constructed with compass and straightedge. Families of geometric figures are classified and studied for the mathematical laws they embody. Formulas for calculating perimeter and area are introduced. In a separate block, the students enter the world of economics as they study percentages, interest and other aspects of business math.
6TH GRADE CURRICULUM: EXAMPLE OF A RESEARCH REPORT & THE BEGINNING OF TEAM SPORTS
6th graders select topics for independent research projects and participate in extracurricular athletics
6th GRADE CURRICULUM COMPONENTS:
SCIENCE & MATHEMATICS
GEOGRAPHY & HISTORY
GYM & EURYTHMY
FIELD TRIPS & COMMUNITY EVENTS
- 6th grade play: typically based on stories from the history curriculum. Past plays performed include the Newbery Medal award winning, “Good Masters! Sweet Ladies!” about children in a medieval English manor.
LIFE SKILLS EXPERIENCED IN 6th GRADE
- Author topic statements & write rough drafts; present & incorporate revisions to book reports and an independent research paper
- Organize and study take home math sheets and prepare for weekly spelling tests
- Complex memorization of their lines and actions for parts in the class play
- Develop mastery in practice of musical instruments