Primary – The feeling phase
In the Primary School all teaching material is brought to the child in as interesting and creative a way as possible. The Class Teacher stays with the class from Class 1 to Class 6, developing a relationship of confidence, security and trust.
The teacher becomes the loving authority for each child, caring for each through careful observation, understanding, profound thoughtfulness and consistency. The teacher fosters a balance between the gaining of knowledge, the development of skills and a healthy creativity of mind and emotion.
Class One children generally still have a degree of dreaminess in relationship to the world, but their connection, especially to the natural world, is increasing. ‘Learning by doing’ remains a significant aspect of their education, as is imitation, however this is increasingly combined with an approach that allows children to learn through emotional response prompted by mental images. As such, lessons are brought artistically to children, with extensive use of story, song, verse and visual art.
Folk and Fairy Tales are used in the introduction of letters and numbers, writing, introduction to the four maths processes (addition, subtraction, multiplication and division), singing, recorder, painting, crafts, gardening, cooking, German, Japanese and play.
Having moved through the transition of Class One, children in Class Two are usually confident within the rhythms and routines of their school days. With this confidence, combined with lengthening concentration spans and increasing dexterity, they are keen for challenge and adventure. They are challenged by the stories of the curriculum that highlight individual differences and strong human qualities as found in animal fables, stories of saints and the Celtic myths and legends.
Fables and Celtic Myths and Legends, writing, maths, painting, singing, recorder, crafts, gardening, cooking, German and Japanese are taught.
The Class Three child typically crosses what is commonly termed, ‘the nine year old threshold’. This refers to a significant change in the child’s perception of the world. It is characterised by a developing sense of self, not simply as an individual, but as separate from others. This can prompt an array of emotions and behaviours such as greater self-assertion, questioning, sometimes insecurity, greater interest in others, formation of new friendships and curiosity that extends further afield.
The curriculum meets the needs for order, security and authority through the Hebrew stories, creation stories, grammar, farming, gardening, cooking, building, crafts, writing and reading music, German, Japanese.
Children in their ninth and tenth year experience significant developmental changes. Thinking and reasoning become more active, leading to a new power of objectivity. Instead of being immersed in the world, they look at it, and others, as a separate individual. Two features of this stage are a burgeoning curiosity about the world and their place in it, along with a questioning of what they experience and discover.
The stirring tales of strength, courage and determination encompassed within the Norse myths. Their growing interest in the workings of the world is nurtured through studies of local geography, humans and animals, grammar, history or writing and fractions. German and Japanese continue as well as craft, singing, recorder and the introduction of string instrumentation.
Many children in Class Five enter a phase of equilibrium, poised as it were, between the ups and downs of the nine year old threshold and the onset of puberty. The sense of self continues to strengthen, particularly in contrast to the developing awareness of others. Physically, co-ordination and balance reach levels of harmony that have not before been experienced and stamina is greatly enhanced. Children are ready for intellectual, moral and physical challenges beyond anything that they have been capable of before.
Indian, Persian and Greek stories meet the child developmentally. Main lessons include the study of plants in relation to the human being and geometry whilst specialist subjects continue – craft, painting, singing, strings, PE, German and Japanese.
Children are guided and nurtured during this year of transition where they are carefully introduced to the culture of the Upper School.
Children in this period of development typically experience great changes physically, emotionally and cognitively. They can become acutely aware of themselves and of the world in which they are ‘finding’ themselves. Intense curiosity about the world, particularly the social world, and much questioning and judgement of the inconsistencies that they discover, become the focus at this age. These internal changes, linked as they are with the physical changes wrought by the onset of puberty, can cause children to experience extremes of emotion that may be bewildering for themselves and those around them. At the same time, new forces are awakening: intellectual changes, enhancing the ability to think more effectively in terms of cause and effect and logical thought processes.
Important main lessons include the History of Rome, business maths, geology, physics, astronomy and geography and English. The arts continue with painting, craft, PE, German and Japanese, music, singing and the introduction of woodwork.