Noticeable physiological, psychological and cognitive changes take place in the child this year. The nine/ten year threshold represents a very significant step in self-awareness. Children realize they are separate from their surroundings and meet the world as individuals, often resulting in increased questions, self-doubt and wonder. Waldorf gives its third grade lessons a practical orientation. In math, they work with time, money, and measurement. In their main lesson, they study how people live and work. On campus, they plant flowers, take care of chickens, and stir the compost.
Abby Wright was born and raised in Talladega, Alabama. Looking for a change of scene after high school, she attended Grinnell College in Iowa and majored in French and linguistics. While in college, she worked in the theatre department's costume studio and has been designing and sewing her own clothes ever since. After graduating from Grinnell, Abby went on to pursue graduate study in linguistics at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. While there, she was introduced to Waldorf education by volunteering with the handwork teacher at the Emerson Waldorf School. Eventually, her interest in Waldorf education overshadowed her interest in Vowel Nasality, her dissertation topic, so she decided to pursue her Waldorf teaching certification at Antioch University of New England. While in New Hampshire, she also worked in the young adult department at the Nashua Public Library. Abby spent her years in New England pining for the South and moved to the Atlanta area with her husband, Aaron, as soon as her teacher training was finished. She spent a year learning the ropes as the first grade assistant at The Waldorf School of Atlanta before taking this class. Abby enjoys fiber arts of all kinds, cooking, and gardening.
Grade Three Pedagogical Overview
Grade Three is marked by the physiological, psychological, and cognitive changes taking place during the ninth year. The child's walk is firmer and more balanced, and the constitution is substantially stronger. Growth begins to focus more on the limbs and metabolism, and there is an increase in the breadth of the trunk. At the same time, a significant step in self-awareness occurs during this year. The children are developing a strong sense of being separate from their surroundings, perhaps for the first time. A feeling of being alone can contrast with a sense of wonder at seeing the world in a new way. These mixed feelings often lead to confusion and insecurity as questions of purpose and identity begin to emerge. There is a longing for increased independence and autonomy as the child moves into this new phase of childhood. They have a tendency to criticize and question authority as they seek to define themselves as individuals.
The images from Hebrew stories, with their laws and guidance, foster inner security during this unsettled period. Practical activities such as farming and house building help ground the children in the physical world. When the whole group works together on these activities, feelings of separateness can be transformed into feelings of responsibility for the whole. With their new interest in the practical, material world, the children can now apply the skills learned in the first two grades to a wide range of everyday situations like measuring, weighing, and cooking.