Lower School
  Grade One    Grade Two    Grade Three    Grade Four    Grade Five  
Storied Knowledge

In the elementary years, Waldorf makes lively use of a time-honored practice: teaching children through stories that recount the deeds of heroes, the qualities of animals, the history of a people, cultural wisdom and spiritual truths. Stories also promote solid learning in every academic subject from the alphabet and basic arithmetic through zoology and Greek history.

First grade is the commencement of formal schooling marked by children's new interest in learning. Students establish good habits of classroom life and work that will form the basis for all subsequent learning at school. The students and teacher build the foundation for an ever-deepening relationship while forming a socially cohesive group during this special year of beginnings.

Rose Ceremony
Lines & Curves
Alphabet
Main Lessons
Class Teacher

Class Teacher

Joshua Gartland

Joshua was born in Johnstown, Pennsylvania and was raised in the suburbs of New York City. He began tap dancing at the age of six, competing occasionally at the national level. He began acting in high school and received a BFA in Theater Performance from Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio. Joshua then moved to New York City where he worked on a number of productions with the Present Company Theatorium as well as a national children's tour with the Chamber Theater. He became a mime for a brief while and studied under Paul J. Curtis in the American Mime Theater. It was September 11th, 2001, however, that gave Joshua perspective. Soon after, he shifted focus and began working at OM Yoga where he eventually became the senior manager of one of the largest yoga facilities in the country. Joshua received a degree in Waldorf Education from Sunbridge College before eventually taking a first grade through four years at the Waldorf School of Garden City in Long Island, NY. Joshua now lives in Decatur with his wife, Sara, and his two daughters, both of whom are WSA students and his new son born in 2013. Joshua enjoys books, athletics, singing, dancing, and of course, performing.

Grade One Pedagogical Overview

First Grade is the commencement of formal schooling marked by the child's awakening capacities of memory and thinking. The seven-year-old retains a feeling of oneness with the world, and is more able to bring broad awareness than focused concentration to learning situations. Much learning therefore involves the presentation of an image to the child, ensuring her understanding through her own mental picturing. This leads to a pictorial approach in the teaching of all subjects.

The rhythm of working together as a class is established during this year, and the students are introduced to all areas of school life. The students are eager to learn together and take their place within the large whole. As new habits are formed, a foundation is being laid for healthy social interaction. Through the teacher's authority and presence, a sense of reverence, respect, and wonder permeates the mood in the classroom.

Throughout the first grade year, the academic tasks of reading, writing and arithmetic are embedded in the rich world of fairy tales. The archetypal pictures found within the fairy tales engage the child's fantasy in the subject matter that they encounter throughout the year. Through these richly crafted stories, the children are introduced to speaking, writing, reading, and mathematics. All skills are reinforced with practice involving rhythmical movement, recitation and music. Bookwork is illustrated with pictures that reinforce the concepts being developed. Each lesson aims to incorporate a three-fold structure, which fosters the development of the children's feelings, thinking abilities, and will forces.