In Our Grade School

Tuburan offers kindergarten, Class 1 (Grade 1), Class 2 (Grade 2), and Class 3 (Grade 3).

Every child is an artist at heart, especially in grade school. This is when children’s vivid life of feelings and emotions emerge; their magical world of free play becomes more sophisticated as they start to see the world in inner meanings, relationships, and beauty. As grade school children develop a new readiness to formal learning their life of imagination and inner creativity continues to be nurtured by integrating art, music, and movement in all lessons.

Painting and drawing cultivate children’s inner creativity. (Photo by Lilli O. Breininger.)

Painting and drawing cultivate children’s inner creativity. (Photo by Lilli O. Breininger.)

Playing musical instruments helps in future learning of abstract mathematical concepts. Movement games develop spatial learning. Group work develop social skills – that is, as children argue, negotiate, and compromise they learn to be articulate, develop tact, understanding and appreciation for each other’s individuality.

Going on nature walks, climbing trees, nature games, and gardening allow the science curriculum to occur in a meaningful, naturalistic envrionment. Every day there are lively rhythmic activities to get the circulation going and bring children together as a group. They recite poems, practice tongue twisters to limber up speech, and work with concentration exercises using body movements.

Knitting helps children develop concentration and perseverance among other things. (Photo by Karen May O. Padawag.)

The main lesson begins with movement and speech exercises and the morning verse. (Photo by Karen May O. Padawag.)

The Main Lesson

Probably the best example of rhythm is that students learn in blocks. This means that a main lesson (first two hours of the day) is covered every day for an entire month (block) and is presented to suit the children’s age and developmental stage.

The next lessons in the day are focused on handiwork, carpentry, music, form drawing, and so on as a follow up and elaborations of the main lesson. In this way, students also learn about cooking, architecture, clothing, language, beliefs – related to the main lesson. After every six to eight weeks of being immersed in the main lesson block, students take a week-long health break to “pause and digest” what they have learned.

As children progress through grade school they revisit these main lessons in greater depth and with an increasingly mature approach. In this way, children have a sense of continuity and purpose in what they are learning rather than jumping about from subject to subject with no real sense of context or meaning.

In their main lesson books, grade school children capture in their writing and drawings what they are learning every week. (Photo by Lilli O. Breininger.)

The teachers’ beautiful chalkboard drawings and engaging activities are some of the things that make learning enjoyable in Steiner/Waldorf schools like Tuburan. (Photo by Karen May O. Padawag.)

The Main Lesson Book

At the end of the morning lesson, students will usually be asked to create and illustrate a page in their main lesson books reflecting the day’s content. These books become their textbooks, precious to each individual author and illustrator because of the critical thinking and authorship that goes into bringing these books to life.

Holistic Experiential learning

When children learn by doing in naturally engaging learning environments that are non-competitive, their lifelong passion for learning is nurtured. They participate in discussions and activities without waiting to be asked, prodded, cajoled, or bribed. In such a classroom, children enjoy learning for learning’s sake; not to get a high grade.

Everyone learns to play the recorder and other wind, string, and percussion instruments. (Photo by Yoko Matsuda.)

Through full integration of the academic, the artistic, and the practical, Tuburan guides children toward self-knowledge, awakening within them a warmth of heart, clarity of thought, and strength of purpose with which they will meet the world.

Class 1-3 (age: 7 to 9 years old)

Main lesson blocks: language (i.e. English, Bisaya and Tagalog) is introduced through fairy tales and stories about heroes, saints and fables and the events and characters in the bible; arithmetic; house building; form drawing; and nature studies – which includes learning about the home environment, farming, and learning about occupations

Other lessons: playing the interval, pentatonic, and diatonic flutes; knitting; crocheting; working with clay; painting; gardening; games; first outdoor camp as a class

Sample activities: Students are introduced to letters through drawing and painting various combinations of straight and curved lines – which are drawn in the air with their fingers or with their brushes and by moving the letters with their whole bodies before writing the letters on their papers. Students guess the forms of the letters hidden in the teachers’ beautiful chalkboard drawings and eventually also learn about the parts of speech and making poems.

In class 1 and 2, basic math facts and operations are learnt with the use of counters like seeds and shells, and throwing and catching bean bags, clapping, hopping, and board work. In class 3, students practice long division and multiplication.

Class 4-5 (age: 10-11 years old)

Main lesson blocks: language (i.e. English, Bisaya and Tagalog) is still taught through increasingly complex form drawing as well as stories – but this time about Norse myths, ancient civilization and Greek mythology; arithmetic focuses on fractions and measurements; botany; animals.

Other lessons: playing the recorder; continue working with clay, crocheting, knitting, working with wood and carving simple forms – an egg, a spoon, and a bowl The Greek Olympics is recreated during which awards are given – not for winning – but for exhibiting virtues of sportsmanship, courage, bravery, etc.

Sample activities: At this pre-puberty stage, students are more grounded and because they are ready to learn facts there’s a transition from learning myths to learning history. Learning about ancient civilizations through recreating and reliving how people before lived nurtures students’ openness to differences while seeing the “common story” that’s familiar to all. Learning about animals by observing them up close and drawing them nurtures students’ appreciation that all qualities animals have are present in human beings but that human beings alone can discern which of these qualities should be used when. Learning about plants by observing their developmental stages nurtures students’ appreciation for the growth and metamorphosis of all living things.

Class 6-8 (age: 12-14 years old)

Main lesson blocks: language (i.e. English, Bisaya and Tagalog) is taught through even more complicated form drawing – and stories about Roman history and the Medieval Ages, Explorations and the Renaissance, and the Industrial Revolution and Reformation; geometry; mineralogy; simple machines; chemistry; physiology; business math (percentages, discounts and taxes)

Other lessons: continue playing the recorder and other instruments and working with clay, crocheting, and knitting

Students’ wood work becomes more complex as they learn how to build a chair, a table, a cabinet. Students hold their first service camp and their first independent class play.

Sample activities: At this puberty stage, students’ increasing independence makes them question rules instead of accepting them just because their teachers said so. This freedom in thinking is nurtured in many ways – especially by allowing students to choose a personal project to focus on which they research and develop throughout the year and then report/show to their classmates and teachers. Because students are risk takers at this age, they enjoy learning about people who went against the odds and enjoy doing risky activities themselves like moving in complex patterns while throwing and catching sticks or drawing their hands in detail without looking at them.

UPPER SCHOOL – Class 9-12 (age: 15-18 years old)

High school is a completely different ball game where teachers are subject experts and increasingly “facilitate” rather than give input. Students engage in more independent and group work and projects. As early as now, Tuburan parents are preparing to get to this level and handle classes.

By this time students have developed their thinking skills some more. They are now equipped with the proper ability for judgement. That is why students at this age are marked by a new readiness to search for truth. In a nutshell, the themes of each class level in upper school are the following:

Class 9 Students learnt to harmonize opposites and polarities; they ask “what?”

Class 10 Students study processes and compare; they ask “how?”

Class 11 Students look within and analyze; they ask “why?”

Class 12 Students make sense of the journey and synthesize; they ask “who?”

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