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Class Five

Overview Class Five is often spoken of as “the golden year” because of the wonderful place that children of this age, ten and eleven-year-olds, mature into. They are more balanced and poised in themselves than they have ever been before and than they will be again until the completion of the coming years of puberty and its rapid intellectual development.

The movement of children of this age gains much greater fluidity and balance. It is a time when the imaginative and carefree state that is childhood begins to blend with the increasing sense of independence, critical thinking, and self-awareness of adolescence. At this age they often find that they are able to run and jump more easily because they are well proportioned and know their bodies - making them graceful and capable. They have left the roundness and lack of coordination of the young child behind and have not yet begun to grow so quickly in size and strength that their bodies are a continual surprise to them.

Intellectually, Class Five children have a greatly increased capacity for examination, thought and reflection. Their actions are much more planned and considered than in previous years, and their minds can take on a depth and breadth of study previously impossible.

The Class 5 year encompasses a wider scope of study than any previous year. The children are growing in their intellectual capacities, and the curriculum meets this expansion with the study of ancient cultures, both mythic and historic, from ancient India to classical Greece. Their work reflects this new depth to their understanding and questioning.The teaching moves from myth to history – from mythological time to earthly time and to learning the inter-relatedness of life through plant, animal and the earth.

Class 5 children also show more balance socially and emotionally which normally results in the class feeling like a harmonious group, with sincere attempts to compromise and apologise being made by all children involved in an argument or dispute. By the end of year, the divisions between boys and girls and among social groupings are diminishing, leading to a smooth and comfortable classroom environment. Class 5 children are also much more capable, taking on more challenging classroom cleaning, chores and work than in previous times.

Rhythm of the Day As in all classes, each day begins with a two hour Main Lesson. This is taught by the Class Teacher who where possible has stayed with this Class from Class One through to the end of Class Five. This continuity means the Class Teacher knows each child and the social dynamic of the class very well so can facilitates the successful management of the social and interpersonal issues that relate to the increasing maturity of the children.

The main subjects, such as history, language arts, science and mathematics are taught during this time in blocks of 3 to 4 weeks. This develops the habit of sustained concentration on one topic, both over the two-hour period and over the three weeks, and allows in-depth exploration.  The Main Lesson contains a wide range of activities and ways of engaging with the subject. For example, a maths Main Lesson could include movement, singing, art work, storytelling, mental and written arithmetic. This gives every kind of learner a point of access to the subject. The rhythm of the Main Lesson aims to meet the children's’ natural energy patterns so that they do not become restless or unfocused.

After Main Lesson the children have their snack (brought from home) and time to play outdoors.

The rest of the day is filled with subject lessons including English, Maths, German, Spanish, Movement, Painting and Drawing, Landcare and Ethics.

Mathematics In Class Five the study of mathematics has two aspects—a continuation of fractions into decimal fractions and percent and the introduction of geometry. Fractions are developed into decimal fractions and decimal numbers. All four operations with decimals are introduced. Percentages are then introduced and elementary work with them completed. Class Five geometry is freehand geometric drawing. The relationships between expansion and contraction and within points, lines and shapes are examined. We divide the circle into its 360 degrees and draw and examine triangles, hexagons and circles. Tools such as compasses may be introduced. The mathematical work is concluded with an introduction to area. Throughout the year there are regular practice lessons and assignments to continue to strengthen mathematical lessons from earlier years—including metric measurement, averages, means, ranges and estimation skills. Back to To

Reading The Class Five reading curriculum is really a process of deepening and developing the children's already existing reading skills. Throughout the year the children are slowly called to use their reading skills to support their learning in other areas such as ancient cultures or science. The way that each teacher works with the reading curriculum is an individual decision based on his or her knowledge of the class but may include oral reading, group reading, free reading and book reports.

Writing Writing continues to develop during Class 5 with a focus on more formal writing such as report writing. Teachers work individually to develop more knowledge of, and attention to, grammatical standards, spelling, writing flow and imaginative depiction. History The stories in Class Five centre around five ancient cultures. Areas of study include Ancient India, Persia, Mesopotamia, Egypt and Greece. During the year the story curriculum moves from a content based on the mythic heritage of each of these great cultures to the historical stories of Greece.

During this year mythology transforms into what most people would recognise as history. Archaeological artefacts and personalities start to take their place beside the gods, legends and stories of ancient times. As we move from Ancient India through Persia, Mesopotamia and Egypt to Greece, we trace the evolution of human consciousness through five thousand years. Through art, poetry and stories, sometimes referring to physical geography as well, we try to paint a picture of how people’s relationship with their gods and with earthly life changed; how their attention moved from one to the other; to show how people did not always think and feel the way we do now and that much of what people did in the past, particularly the stories they told, can show us how they experienced life. This resonates with the children at this age because they too can look back at their own lives and realise that they were not always as aware as they are now; that whereas when they were younger, they simply accepted life as it was, now they question things and want to make up their own minds about the world how things are.

This study is normally brought to a conclusion in the summer with children participating in the Waldorf Olympic Games during which children from Waldorf schools across the country come together to take part. The play the ancient games of running, jumping, discus throwing and javelin. This event provides an experience of truth and beauty in athletic competition.

Images from various schools

Science In Class Five, the focus in the science block turns to botany and the world of plants. With a more rigorous focus the children examine the various phyla of the plant world, learning how to identify them as well as studying their development, reproduction and role in the natural and human world. In addition, Class Five takes up geometric drawing with a focus on the geometric nature of the world around us. The study of the world around us is deepened with this focus on the world of the plants. This builds upon the understanding of the animals that has been built up throughout Class Four.

This Botany Main Lesson encourages a more scientific and detailed examination of the world, with direct observation of plants and botanical formations being made by the students. Scientific terminology is also introduced for the first time in this block. The starting point for geography is what the child knows, so we begin with our neighbourhood and the beautiful valley surrounding our school. We start by creating a map of the valley and work to change the point of view from being in the valley, to seeing it from outside, from above looking down. We work with the children to transform the landscape into a map, first adding in earth features and then adding vegetation.We then venture into the economic aspects that humans have added such as railways and roads. In this way, we show the links between the natural environment and how humans live in a particular place.

In Class Five the study continues, gradually reaching out away from home and familiar ground, expanding to the region and then the British Isles.

Cultural geography such as regional music, literature, history and art are brought into the classroom to give the children a specific sense of the individual place.

Botany images from various schools. Bottom two images from New School Canterbury.

Art and Music As with the earlier classes, Class Five continue with their work in flute, singing, speech and movement each morning. Flute work in Class Five usually includes playing in parts using the diatonic flute that the children have had since Class Three. The difficulty of the singing pieces also increases with a focus on harmony and part-singing. Speech work continues to develop as does the complexity and challenge of the morning movement work.

Painting and other artistic activities continue during this year. Painting moves into the curriculum areas of the year. Drawing includes new and more challenging techniques. Clay modelling is begun during this year. The play chosen for this year is often a play in which the children take on truly independent parts for the first time, being independently responsible for their lines and role. The topic of the play is usually inspired by the story curriculum for the year.


As well as practical activities guided by the class teacher, such modelling and painting, pupils are also taught various crafts in other subject based lessons. Handwork lessons give each child the opportunity to develop a range of skills, such as knitting, sewing, weaving, felting and crochet. Importance is placed on the use of high quality, beautiful and natural materials in order to enhance the artistic and creative development of each child. Ethics Class Five continue to have a weekly ethics lesson during which stories are told about individuals who have engaged in inner battles, to show that all people struggle with questions of courage, ideals, their own frustrations and limitations. Through studying biographies of key historical figures, the children develop their sense of social justice and moral responsibilities. They are also encouraged to think about how their choices and behaviour can affect local, national and global issues including political or social institutions and environmental change.

These stories and the conversations inspired by these stories support the children to develop their own personal values to guide their thinking and behaviour in all areas of their lives at school and beyond.

Modern Foreign Languages

Through learning a foreign language one can empathise and have an intellectual understanding for other cultures. From Class One, we aim to teach two foreign languages. Children from Classes 1 to 3 will learn by pure imitation with an emphasis on movement: rhymes, songs, poems, verses, short stories and games. Grammar is not consciously taught, although of course it is unconsciously practised, while a feel for the language, in character, melody and rhythm is the key factor. As in their mother tongue, the children learn the meaning of words from the coherence between gesture and mood. During the lesson, only the new language is spoken. The complexity of the language used gradually increases, and in Class 4, the children start writing and reading. This carries into Class 5. At New School Canterbury the children have been learning German. We hope to introduce Spanish from September 2020.

The Natural Environment - Landcare

The curriculum respects the restorative benefits of the natural world. Every class in the school works to care for the school site and in doing so, connects with nature, working with it, understanding it, and enjoying it. Class Five will be creating a medicinal herb garden/dye garden. A this age there is a focus is for the children to be around flowering plants and see how they change through the seasons. This supports their Botany Main Lesson.

Physical Education

There is both integrated and discrete physical education. Integrated physical education includes the movement exercises that come at the beginning of Main Lesson to help the pupils to settle their focus for learning. The use of rhythm and movement may come into many lessons, such as maths where pupils, for example in the younger years may throw and catch beanbags as they recite times tables, or during a foreign language lesson, where pupils might follow a sequence of movements when learning parts of the body.

Weekly games lessons include a wide range of team games. In the younger classes games are always introduced with a story so that the physical activity has an imaginative focus. In Class 5 the ancient Greek Olympic events are introduced: running, jumping, discus and javelin. Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) education

Through Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) education children develop the knowledge, skills and attributes they need to manage their lives, now and in the future. The following themes are explored in a weekly Circle Time lesson, Ethics and in Main Lessons.

  • Explore and express ideas and beliefs through the stories, discussion and the arts.

  • Engage in moral reasoning and explore moral issues underlying current events

  • Find out about other people’s beliefs, ideals and explore their own and others’ cultural traditions. Also recognising what they have in common.

  • Recognise and value differences

  • Reflect on how their own lives can be enriched through this knowledge and through contact with other cultures

  • Reflect on how their own cultural experience has shaped the person that they are and begin to understand the role of unconscious bias within their lives.

  • Reflect on the moral values underlying traditions and pressures for change

  • Develop an understanding of citizenship and how the community they live in functions and affects themselves and others.

  • Form, express and justify a personal opinion and feelings, needs and wishes.

  • How to maintain physical, mental and emotional health and wellbeing

  • Managing change, including puberty, transition and loss

  • How to develop and maintain a variety of healthy relationships, within a range of social/cultural contexts and to recognise risky or negative relationships and ask for help

  • The importance of respecting and protecting the environment

  • A basic understanding of enterprise, money and the role it plays in life.

Values: Throughout the school, staff encourage children to see their role as an individual within a bigger social structure, ensuring that the children know their views count, that they value each other’s views and values and are able to talk about their feelings. Children learn to balance their own wish for freedom with the needs of the group.The Class 5 curriculum particularly covers the origins of democracy and its importance as a concept and principle. We encourage children to develop a positive sense of themselves. Throughout their time at school, the children are given opportunities to develop their self-knowledge, self-esteem and increase their confidence in their own abilities, for example through allowing them to take appropriate risks, to develop their creative self-expression through music, drama, art and stories, talking about their experiences and learning through various forms of safe and constructive feedback. These experiences allow children to explore the language of feelings and responsibility, reflect on their differences and understand that everyone is free to have different opinions.

We are currently working with the Steiner Waldorf School Fellowship to ensure that we are doing all that we can to promote diverse attitudes and challenge stereotypes. For example, sharing stories that reflect and value the diversity of children’s experiences and providing resources and activities that challenge gender, cultural and racial stereotyping.

To see our School Values, Click HERE

Free Hand Geometry images from Waldorfish.

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