Fourth graders are passing through the midst of the nine-year change. They are in the process of cutting the ties to their childhood life. The transition from early childhood is being completed; the transition towards puberty has not yet begun.
This Centre-point of the class teaching period coincides with the middle of the second seven-year period of life, and is referred to in Steiner Waldorf pedagogy as the ‘Heart of Childhood’. The self-activity of the child brings about a harmonizing of the relationship of the breathing to the blood circulation.
Confidence in their new state is expressed in a quality of vigor and an eagerness to look at and learn about the world. They still wish to revere, but, for them, that reverence must be justified. The children begin to form their own personality in response to their experience of the world, consciously choosing those qualities that will go into their characters. The children tend to have strong opinions based on their likes and dislikes as they are not yet capable of intellectual judgment.\
The fourth grade curriculum addresses a child in possession of greater certainty and confidence. In this grade level, the child is more assured of his/her own place in the world and is able to assert more individual needs and wants. The curriculum correspondingly evolves away from the unified approach of early childhood into the teaching of more specific subjects. The Main Lesson blocks are more varied in the fourth grade than they have been in the earlier grades, reflecting both the children’s individuation as well as the intellectual breadth of which they are beginning to be capable.
A start is made on natural science to study the animal kingdom in relation to the human being. Also a thorough study of the local surrounding and developing the process of map-making.
In the realm of mathematics, the fourth grade child begins the year with a firm foundation in working with whole numbers using the four processes. This year marks the appropriate time to introduce fractions, as the practice of breaking apart the whole into its constituent parts mirrors the child's own internal experience of the fracturing of his/her world. Concepts are first introduced through the manipulation of everyday objects, providing the child with an initial concrete experience of fractions before proceeding to their more abstract representations.
The symbol for grade 4 is a sideways cross which signifies the coming to a crossroad; the challenge facing the child in crossing over to a new way of thinking and being. The child must find a new relationship to the world. It is also the picture of crossed swords; the cross-stitch, the over and under of the Celtic knot.
Aims and Objectives
- The aim of Class 4 is first and foremost to channel constructively the powerful energy which ten years olds bring to the classroom. Pupils need to be challenged and stretched in every possible aspect of their work.
- Meet the growing interest of the children in more concrete areas of knowledge and to provide them with opportunities for more independence in their work.
- Individually, the children need to find a new relationship to their work, to their peers and teachers.
- The children should begin to identify individual ‘badness’ in contrast to social or communal ‘goodness’.
- The children should form a sense of where they are in relation to their environment, in both a social and geographical sense.