Brooklyn Waldorf offers a comprehensive liberal arts curriculum thoroughly grounded in the classics.

Each grade is led in the core academic subjects by a highly-trained class teacher who progresses with the students from year to year. Learning is enhanced inside this familiar and knowing relationship.

Class teachers begin each day leading an in-depth, uninterrupted academic study-block, the theme of which changes every several weeks.  These periods of academic study, called “main lesson,” are supported and extended through ongoing and parallel learning in the visual, musical, dramatic and practical arts, foreign languages, movement and physical education.

This holistic approach fosters mastery of each subject through an engaging process of faculty-led presentation, collaborative exploration, personal integration and, ultimately, a deep understanding of the subject matter.

The critical link between experiential learning and mastery of underlying abstract facts and theory is the student’s feeling of deep connection to the subject matter and the class.

Grades Curriculum

Academic studies in the grades classes are the focus of the morning Main Lesson and include language arts that span literature, myths, and legends; chronological social studies and history that includes the world’s great civilizations; mathematics that develop strong competence in arithmetic, algebra, and geometry and science that surveys geography, astronomy, meteorology, physical and life sciences.

Specialty subjects parallel and integrate into this body of academic study and includes the study of both Mandarin and Spanish; physical education and movement; fine, dramatic, practical and performing arts.

Each of the grades pages provides an overview of the curriculum generally provided for a given year.

The Main Lesson:  Thematic Academic Studies

Main lesson is a uniquely immersive, thematic and interdisciplinary academic lesson led by the class teacher for the first two hours of every day in every grade.

Main lesson subjects are studied in “blocks” of time from three to four weeks.  At the end of a “block” of study, the subject rotates so that the block functions as a magnifying glass on a given subject over a period of time. This pattern of rotating main lesson blocks continues throughout the year.

The class teacher facilitates the learning of the main lesson content through a variety of activities that engage multiple intelligences and allow time for in-depth study and absorption of the material.

Main lesson includes time during which children are guided to recall and retell the content from previous lessons.  During the main lesson each child will create a guided written and artistic record of the content in a bound book, called the “main lesson book,” that can be used for future reference and is forever treasured by the children. Much more than merely notebooks, main lesson books are often exquisite works of art as great care is taken in their creation and maintenance over the course of the year.

The main lesson bookwork itself constitutes a robust learning experience. In scholarly fashion, teachers and students work with original source materials instead of textbooks. Students learn to think and express themselves in a multitude of ways, using both brain hemispheres.  They gradually learn time management, reflection, comprehension, synthesis, critical thinking, disciplined recall and nearly every aspect of executive function is practiced.  Moreover, elemental and creative written and artistic expression are such regular features in classwork they are not so much taught, as they are absorbed over time.

Academic subjects that are not the focus of the main lesson block are maintained through study during the instruction periods that follow the main lesson. Instruction is always ongoing in reading, writing and mathematics.

“The claim for interdisciplinary learning is that parallel learning gives you advantages that series learning lacks. Those advantages may be: learning depth by fostering analogies; learning applicability by understanding context; learning flexibility by being aware of different modes of thought and ways of working; encouraging creative breakthroughs by using examples and models from different fields, etc.”

 – Carl Gombrich, University College London  

Class Play

Each grade performs an annual play in the spring semester.  The class teacher writes and directs the play which is generally focused on a subject drawn from one of the main lesson themes during the year.

Costumes and sets come together in an adult collaboration between parents and teachers, sometimes joined by students and often with assistance from the highly-skilled handwork specialty teacher.

The younger grades perform simple plays with each successive grade producing a progressively elaborate production.  The first graders often speak and sing in chorus with very short, solo lines. The eighth grade play is generally a full-length, fully-staged, costumed and lighted performance with full seating’s for each evening performance.

The class play requires intensely collaborative efforts that culminate in an exhilarating sense of accomplishment for each class and student.  Every student has a chance to shine and every student in the audience appreciates the dedication necessary to deliver a staged performance.