By middle school, the students’ capacities begin to mature, and the seeds for intellectual analysis and critical thinking are sown. Through each of the main lesson subjects, teachers lay the groundwork for the deepening and widening of the students’ understanding of the world and their unique place within it. Students are challenged to sharpen their intellect, their eye for beauty and accuracy, and their capacity to accomplish meaningful activities.

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Sixth Grade: Bringing a sense of order

Sixth grade marks a turning point in the elementary school curriculum. As children become better able to appreciate the relationships of cause and effect, the formal study of science begins.

To help students learn to observe accurately, account for their observations, and draw conclusions, new subjects such as physics, geology, and geometry are introduced. As students learn basic concepts and carefully draw and shade geometric forms, they learn, also, to bring order into their own sometimes chaotic feeling life.

Main Lesson

  • History of Rome and the Middle Ages;
  • Geography of Europe;
  • Geology;
  • Business math;
  • Introduction to physics;
  • Geometric drawing with ruler and compass;
  • Speech, spelling, vocabulary, book reports, letter writing, essay form;
  • Drama

Specialty Subjects

  • Music (strings ensemble, chorus),
  • Handwork,
  • Art – watercolor painting
  • World language (Spanish),
  • Movement education,
  • Woodworking,
  • Clay modeling

Seventh Grade: A time of inner revolution

In Waldorf schools the study of history begins with the ancient cultures of the East and progresses through the great civilizations of the ages. By studying the history of humankind, by considering the lives of others, students come to understand themselves and their own struggles for understanding and mastery of the world around them.

Seventh graders also learn about inventions, artistic achievements, and economic structures, all within the context of major themes, such as feudalism, chivalry, Christianity, the development of Protestantism, and the invention of the printing press.

Main Lesson

  • History from the 1400s through the 1600s (Age of Exploration, Renaissance, Reformation, Scientific Revolution);
  • Introduction to U.S. history;
  • Astronomy;
  • Physics;
  • Human anatomy;
  • Geography of Latin America, the Middle East and Near East, Oceania;
  • Literature, grammar, vocabulary, spelling, creative and expository writing;
  • Current events;
  • Drama

Specialty Subjects

  • Music (strings ensemble, chorus)
  • Handwork
  • Art – watercolor painting, perspective drawing
  • World language (Spanish)
  • Movement education
  • Woodworking
  • Clay modeling

Eighth Grade: Learning to think for ourselves

As eighth graders actively begin to challenge the world around them, we study cultural and social revolutions, drawing upon themes of freedom versus equality, loyalty versus honesty—themes that often closely mirror the eighth grader’s own inner growth.

Main Lesson

  • History from 1600 to present (American, French and Industrial Revolutions, Civil War, Twentieth Century)
  • Meteorology, chemistry, physiology, physics
  • Geography of Africa and Asia
  • Drama

Specialty Subjects

  • Music (strings ensemble, chorus)
  • Handwork (machine sewing)
  • Art (watercolor painting)
  • World language (Spanish)
  • Movement education
  • Woodworking
  • Clay modeling

Learning Science by Observation

From grades five through eight, students receive an introduction to the earth sciences, physics, chemistry, and human physiology. Instruction invites students to observe, to see for themselves, and to draw their own conclusions. Observation involves becoming aware of our assumptions and learning to let go of them. This method fosters in our students sensitivity to the world around them and a sense of responsibility for it as well as confidence in their own powers of perception and thought.

Middle School at Ashwood: Common Questions

Are Waldorf schools accredited?

The Association of Waldorf Schools of North America (AWSNA) is an accrediting body under the National Council for Private School Accreditation (NCPSA). Waldorf schools can elect to become accredited by completing a formal evaluation process. Ashwood has elected to become a full member of and accredited by AWSNA. Joint accreditation between AWSNA and the regional accreditation team such as ISA (Independent Schools Association) or NEASC (New England Association of Schools and Colleges), to name two of the seventeen approved crediting agencies in North America, are also possible. Ashwood Waldorf School has been accredited by NEASC (New England Association of Schools and Colleges) since 2002. Ashwood is also a member of the Waldorf Early Childhood Association of North America (WECAN).

What would happen if my child struggles academically?

Waldorf schools hesitate to categorize children, particularly in terms such as “slow” or “gifted.” A given child’s weaknesses in one area, whether cognitive, emotional or physical, will usually be balanced by strengths in another area. It is the teacher’s job to try to bring the child’s whole being into balance. A child having difficulty with the material might be given extra help by the teacher or by parents; tutoring might also be arranged. In either case, the teacher works closely with the parent to address the child’s needs.

What does Waldorf say about computers in education?

Waldorf teachers feel the appropriate age for computer use in the classroom and by students is in high school. They feel it is more important for students to have the opportunity to interact with one another and with teachers in exploring the world of ideas, participating in the creative process, and developing their knowledge, skills, abilities, and inner qualities. Waldorf students have a love of learning, an ongoing curiosity, and interest in life. As older students, they quickly master computer technology, and graduates have successful careers in the computer industry. For additional reading, please see Fools Gold on the Alliance For Childhood’s web site, and The Future Does Not Compute by Steven Talbot.

How well will my child transition into high school?

High school teachers from public and independent schools have told us that our graduates raise the intellectual bar in their classrooms, that they are naturally curious and respectful, and that they know how to use their many talents to advance the common goals of the group.

Most of our graduates are prepared to take honors or AP classes in high school and do exceedingly well academically. More importantly, they bring with them an unusual passion for learning; a respect for other people, cultures, and points of view; and a desire to make a meaningful difference in the world.