Desert Sky promotes a superior level of academic achievement with a curriculum inspired by Waldorf education. The curriculum of Desert Sky Community School articulates State Standards for Academic Excellence with a methodology rooted in the work of Dr. Rudolf Steiner, the founder of Waldorf Education. Subjects are integrated into thematic units called “blocks,” enhanced by an emphasis on music and art to gently guide the natural imagination and creativity of children toward the abstract processes of reading, writing, arithmetic, and then onward to critical thinking and problem-solving.
This approach engages the whole child – head, heart, and hands – to instill academic excellence, independent thinking, a sense of social responsibility, and motivation for life-long learning.
Individual progress is determined by assessment of class work (main lesson books, art, special projects, practice papers), demonstration of oral skills (reading, presentations, acting) and consideration of standardized testing results. Our multi-sensory approach to learning recognizes the importance of the whole child and supports healthy growth and progress in all areas – academic, artistic, social, emotional and physical.
Soft handwork begins in Kindergarten at Desert Sky. One of the first activities that is introduced is finger-knitting in Kindergarten and onto knitting in First Grade. Followed later by crocheting, felt work, and onto harder handwork such as spindle spinning, land crafting, and much more. The purpose of handwork is not meant to provide just a pleasant past-time, it aims specifically to help the young child develop a healthy imagination and harmonize the head, heart, and hands.
The education of foreign languages plays an essential part in the Waldorf curriculum. Here at Desert Sky we teach two foreign languages; German and Spanish. In the early grades they are taught within the curriculum through conversation, games, recitation, singing, and stories, followed by more grammatical work in the higher grades such as reading and writing.
The kindergarten day begins with a traditional Waldorf Kindergarten then supplemented with an afternoon program. In daily, weekly, and seasonal rhythms, children learn about language and nature through an emphasis on memory, sequence, and pattern recognition. In addition to creative circle time with songs, and story-time with fairy-tales, activities include painting, beeswax modeling, gardening, handwork, and cooperative outdoor play. Great care is taken in providing a classroom environment that surrounds the child with beauty, a sense of security and comfort, and nurturing teachers whose words and actions are worthy of imitation.
After greeting the students, the class teacher presents the core curriculum in a main lesson that is integrated with art, music, and movement. For example, during a block on housing-building, students may learn traditional work songs, work with linear measure, and create models of houses. In all grades, the daily main lesson is followed by specialty subjects, including Spanish, German, music, handwork (such as knitting), gardening, woodwork, form drawing, and outdoor games or physical education. Children also do Eurythmy in all grades, which is an art form of words and movement, as well as watercolor painting, beeswax modeling, pentatonic or diatonic recorder, and vocal music. Monthly assemblies and seasonal festivals also encourage a sense of community, and invite parent participation in the life of the school.
Specific topics taught in grades include:
Addition, subtraction, multiplication and division are introduced; The alphabet is explored and reviewed through stories; fairy tales, folk tales, nature stories, poetry; and songs; and activities in Spanish and German.
Writing and reading are emphasized; fables, legends, Native American stories; multiplication tables; word problems; nature observations, gardening; crochet; Spanish & German lessons focus on vocabulary.
Creation stories, including Old Testament and Native American; weights and measures; history of agriculture; house-building, nutrition, and animal husbandry; grammar, punctuation; begin writing Spanish and German.
Fourth & Fifth Grade
Fractions & Decimals, Norse mythology, Geography, Literature & Grammar, Greek mythology, Botany, Zoology.