First Days of School
Beginning our 52nd school year with the traditional Rose Ceremony marks the first key transition our First Graders make, as Eighth and Twelfth Graders welcome them into the Grade School.
First Days of First Grade
First Graders begin the school year with a Main Lesson block in Form Drawing. This three-week block introduces straight and curved lines, which are the basis for all the letters and numbers students will learn over the course of the year. It’s how drawing organically becomes writing and all four mathematical operations. BWS and BWHS students build on this strong foundation over their twelve years of Elementary and High School starting right here, in the first week of Grades School!
The Class Teacher presents fairy tales and stories from all over the world, teaching in a form that children already know, love and understand, through stories. She creates living pictures using both movement and imagination, without notes or screens. The children listen transfixed, then each child carefully draws a form from the story into their very own main lesson book.
First Graders practice making straight and then curved lines. Next, they incorporate the straight and curved lines together, creating a new form. At last, the focus turns to learning to draw a spiral, as the children first practice walking a spiral, forming it on the ground with rope, as well as drawing on each other’s backs!
Becoming a Class
So much of First Grade is about learning to become a community. At Berkshire Waldorf School, the class will move together through the Grades, and frequently on through High School, so relationships, belonging and etiquette are an important part of education. Notably, in Waldorf Education, this social learning is part of the curriculum in both academic and subject classes.
As an example of social learning in First Grade, Class Teacher Victoria Cartier discussed the importance of building up the basics (already well-established in BWS Early Childhood classes). This is what Waldorf teachers call “form”: learning to walk in a line, work together in a circle, attend to the teacher–all the ways their experiences teach the children how to work and play together, help one another and take care of the space they share.
Ms. Cartier spoke about the development of the children from Kindergarten to First Grade.
Ms. Cartier also emphasized not taking for granted just how new everything is for students brand new to the Grades School, and how much growth and change is occurring within them. In First Grade, Games period and recesses are organized by Ms. Cartier, while the afternoons are reserved for free play. During free play, the teacher has time to observe social dynamics, and discover students’ different affinities, strengths and joys, when they are free to explore, climb and play whatever calls to them. The strength of the class as a whole shines through during this time.
The Very First Days of School
Our youngest Early Childhood students in the Star Room (Toddler), Rose Room and Robin’s Nest (2-4 years), and Sun Room, Rainbow Room and Pumpkin Patch Kindergartens (5-6 years) started school with surprisingly few tears. Some children had their very first experience of being away from parents and regular caregivers. We were delighted to see and hear them playing, running, visiting the sheep, climbing trees, singing and laughing. It’s wonderful to have our youngest students back on campus!
Welcome dear families, to this learning and growing community.
Meet Our First Grade Teacher
Welcome Class of 2030
Berkshire Waldorf School is pleased to announce Andrew Gilligan as First Grade Class teacher for the 2022-23 school year.
About Mr. Gilligan
An experienced Waldorf educator, Mr. Gilligan has taught students across Elementary and Middle School grades as well as Early Childhood for the past fifteen years. He is currently the second grade class teacher at the Seattle Waldorf School. Mr. Gilligan previously worked at Meadowbrook Waldorf School in Richmond, RI, where he taught students from First Grade to Middle School. At Meadowbrook, he was a member of the Board of Trustees and the Core Teachers, acting as a leader of fiscal and pedagogical decision-making for the school.
Mr. Gilligan completed his Bachelor of Arts from the University of Vermont. He earned his Elementary Education Certificate, Waldorf Education Certificate, and Masters of Education from Antioch University New England.
Meet Mr. Gilligan
Families whose children will be six by September 1, 2022 and interested community members are invited to meet Mr. Gilligan, with First Grade subject teachers, at our Meet the First Grade Teachers event. The meeting will be held over Zoom Saturday, January 29 at 10:30 a.m. To join this live, free, virtual event, create your account in our family portal, and select this event. To learn more, contact Admissions Director Robyn Coe at firstname.lastname@example.org.
At Berkshire Waldorf School, students start with their Class Teacher in First Grade and move through the Elementary and Middle School curriculum with their class, to build strong, long-term relationships.
Berkshire Waldorf School is now accepting applications for the Class of 2030. The new family application deadline for Fall 2022 is February 1. Visit our How to Apply page to register in the parent portal, create an inquiry, register for events and access the First Grade application. (Current BWS students who will be 6 by September 1 are automatically pre-enrolled for First Grade in the Fall.)
Berkshire Waldorf School is one of over 1,000 international Waldorf schools, part of the fastest-growing independent school movement in the world. The school welcomes students from all backgrounds, and offers generous financial aid for students based on need. Happy 50th anniversary, BWS!