Developmentally Based Curriculum – Blue Oak’s curriculum is founded on the understanding that there are distinct developmental stages during childhood. Our curriculum is carefully designed to honor these developmental stages and ensure that students can achieve healthy emotional and intellectual growth through the grades.
Active and Ethical Citizenship – A classical approach to world history gives students a broad overview of past world cultures by using legends, myths, and multicultural stories. This perspective helps students understand and appreciate the diversity of humankind and develops gratitude, empathy, and respect.
Community Service – Specialty Subjects – Blue Oak’s specialty subjects include music, art, games, handwork, technology (grades 3-8), and foreign language. These subjects help develop the diversity of skills necessary for a well-rounded education. Former U.S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan stated, “The arts, perhaps more than any other subject, prepare young people with creativity and innovative thinking.”
Movement- In addition to the physical education program presented as a specialty subject, teachers integrate movement into their general education classroom experience. By utilizing research-tested movements and activities, teachers are able to keep a focus on the brain-body integration process of the developing child. By moving purposefully in programs which may include S’Cool Moves, Bal-a-vis-x, Eurythmy and others, children are able to positively affect areas of brain-body integration such as core strength, fine and gross motor dexterity, asymmetrical bilaterality, decision making, critical thinking, safe risk-taking, appropriate forms of touch, and other areas which tie directly to the whole-child experience of learning.
2. Stories and Oral Tradition
Storytelling – In each grade, stories form the foundation for academic work at Blue Oak School. From Kindergarten fairy tales to the stories of the Renaissance and the American Revolution in the upper grades, a rich oral tradition is a central component of the Waldorf-inspired classroom. Storytelling cultivates imagination in the child while expanding their capacities for literacy through rich language, comprehension, and story plot structure.
Biographies – Blue Oak teachers deliver oral narratives describing the lives of important individuals who have defined the spirit of their time. Biographies of luminaries from Euclid to Michelangelo and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., deepen students’ understanding of history, social change, and science.
Imagination, imagery and metaphor – At a time when visual electronic media dominates the attention of most children, Blue Oak’s emphasis on stories, classical literature, and imaginative cognition provides a healthy foundation for emotional and intellectual development in young children and provides age-appropriate scaffolding for academic content while inspiring students to engage with the curriculum. Actively building a child’s imagination in such ways lays the foundation from which healthy critical thinking sets in.
3. The Blue Oak Teacher – Long Term Commitment to Students
Looping – Blue Oak teachers may have the opportunity to follow their class for multiple grades. This instructional continuity helps form stable classes and forges strong student-teacher and parent-teacher relationships. In the Middle School, years (grades 6-8) the role of the class teacher will transition to a collaborative co-teaching arrangement. This gives middle school students the opportunity to adjust to new teaching strategies and expectations in preparation for high school. Additionally, it allows teachers the opportunities to become more specialized in particular subject areas of focus.
Home Visits – Kindergarten and new to class teachers customarily visit the homes of each child in their class to deepen their relationship with the student and to develop collaborative relationships with parents.
Parent Education Seminars –Blue Oak’s Parent Council hosts various luminaries in Waldorf Education and trainers in the Nurtured Heart Approach throughout the year. These serve as avenues to inform parents about the educational pedagogy their children are receiving and provide practical parenting tools. Parent Education Seminars are offered to Blue Oak parents and the general community.
4. The Main Lesson
Main Lesson – Daily lessons, ranging from 1.75-2.25, hours,delivered by class teachers allows for in-depth subject study as detailed in the Waldorf curriculum, integrated with Common Core Standards. The Main Lesson includes rigorous academic activities, art, music, movement, and recitation.
Main Lesson Book – Students create their own elaborate portfolio of Main Lesson curriculum through a process of written and artistic representation. The high standard of work required for completion of main lesson books demands a student’s full engagement in this meaningful work. The evaluation of the main lesson book is one of the multiple measures of student achievement.
Rotating Lesson Blocks – Main Lesson subjects are delivered in 3-4 week lesson blocks created and presented by the teacher. Teachers use an articulated cycle of instruction that includes an introduction, recall, and artistic work. This rotating cycle allows for an in-depth treatment of core instructional material. Sample yearly block rotations, aligned to Common Core Standards, can be referenced in Appendix 2. Detailed grade-by-grade Main Lesson curriculum for all grades is outlined in pages 33-36 of this document.
5. Art, and Music Embedded In Curricular Activities
All Students Participate – Art and music are embedded into each day’s activities. All students participate in visual and performing arts several times a week, which develops perseverance and the full artistic expression of the student.
Singing – Beginning in Kindergarten and continuing through the grades, students sing to build unity as a class and to deepen their connection to grade curriculum. Vocal skills increase in complexity with each grade from whole class singing, to singing in rounds, and harmonizing in multiple part songs.
Instruments – Beginning in the first grade, students are introduced to the study of multiple instruments including various sizes and styles of recorders and stringed instruments, and in middle school, an option to pursue band instruments. Instrument work has been shown to fine-tune auditory skills, hone critical thinking and decision making, increase student engagement and decrease behavior problems, all of which support a child’s cross-curricular learning.
Handwork – Practical work, crafts and handwork are an integral part of the curriculum. In the early grades, knitting and crocheting help develop fine motor skills and enhance intellectual development. In the middle and upper grades, advanced knitting, cross-stitch, sewing, and woodwork mirror the complex problem-solving capacities developing in the adolescent child.
Performing Arts –Each year students in grades one through eight will perform in a class play or public performance. Two concerts a year showcase the musical talents of children grades two through eight.
6. Experiential Kindergarten Curriculum
Hands-on Activities – Artistic pursuits such as watercolor painting, beeswax modeling, drawing and participating in seasonal crafts, along with the practical activities of chopping vegetables, shaping dough and washing dishes enhance a child’s ability to focus and concentrate, while fostering hand-eye coordination.
Physical Movement Activities – Play is an essential part of Kindergartener’s physical development. Copious research by prominent educational researchers such as David Elkind, Howard Gardner, and Jane Healy confirms that healthy play is necessary for the future academic success of young children. The development of the young child’s physical body, including fine and gross motor skills, prepares them for the physical skills necessary to read, write and perform academically in future grades.
7. Foreign Language and Cultural Studies
Cultural Introduction – In the primary and middle grades, students are introduced to different cultures through foreign language classes that celebrate stories, songs, poems and traditions of other countries.
Foreign Language instruction – In the middle and upper grades, foreign language instruction is provided for all students building multicultural understanding, vocabulary, grammar, and literacy. As students advance through the grades, the complexity of language instruction increases. At the end of eighth grade, students may take the Spanish 1 competency exam for potential placement in Spanish 2 when entering high school.
8. Rhythm Guides Instruction and School Activities
Individual Rhythm – Teachers craft their lessons to complement the natural attention span of students. Alternating between stillness and activity, seriousness and laughter, imagination and practical application, recitation and silence, the teacher moves the child seamlessly through the day in a way that allows them to experience academic demands with joy.
Seasonal Rhythms – Creating a connection to natural seasonal rhythms is integral to our educational program. Daily lesson plans reflect seasonal variations and honor the multicultural significance of seasonal celebrations. In addition to traditional holidays, Blue Oak comes together annually for the Harvest Festival in Fall, the Multicultural Festival of Light in Winter, and the Mayfaire in Spring.