Early childhood through grade 12

Hawthorne Valley Association
two girls playing violins sitting in a row; student in foreground wears a long braid and blue shirt
male student in classroom sitting at a desk, smiling and looking downwards; there are other students in the background
group of students dribbling basketballs outdoors in the winter
female student practicing fencing outdoors; she is wearing a white t-shirt with a button-down denim over it and khaki pants; her opponent is off screen with onely their arm and sword
female student seated at a desk working on a geometric drawing of a flower
student in physics class working with a pulley system apparatus; the image is a close up of the student's h and holding one of the pulleys
Group of students perform in 7th grade circus; one is on stilts, while four others are wearing blue suits that cover them from head to foot

As children enter the elementary school, they are guided by a Class Teacher in Grades 1- 8. Students and teachers develop a deep and enduring relationship through the shared experience of the main lesson curriculum, where one subject is taught for the first two hours of each day in blocks of three to four weeks.

In the middle grades at Hawthorne Valley, Waldorf education makes many worlds come alive. Students often see themselves in the curriculum, as an industrious Roman, a medieval scholar, a daring explorer, and a Renaissance artist waiting to emerge. Learning takes place both in and out of class, as students navigate the world of social relationships, fostering respect and collaboration among peers.

During each Main Lesson block, the children make their own textbooks, full of illustrations, from subjects presented by the class teacher. It is the goal of each class teacher to bring the curriculum to their class in ways that will excite and enthuse, leading each student to question, learn, dream, and explore!

Learn more about our lower and middle school grade levelsDownload PDF

female student focused on classroom work; she is writing on a tabletop while standing, wearing a mauve sweatshirt and her hair is braided

At the Hawthorne Valley School, formative assessments are an ongoing part of daily activities.

Throughout the elementary grades, teachers assess a student’s progress through recall and discussion of content that’s been presented, assignments (particularly the main lesson book work) and participation in various activities. In the younger grades in particular, curriculum-related experiences are valuable in and of themselves; an experience may be a primary goal outside of any particular end or outcome and is a basis for assessment. Beginning in fourth or fifth grade, teachers may also use quizzes, end-of-block tests and/or homework to assess specific knowledge or proficiencies.

group of students sitting on green tarp on ground working with natural materials; there is a basket with rocks in it, writing utensils and paper, and plant materials; the view is from above

The Hickory Program aims to help students uncover and address academic, physiological as well as underlying social-emotional needs, through targeted small group instruction. Hickory programming is integrated into the general scheduling of each class as needed and takes place on campus. This integrated model provides ease of transition for students and aims to lessen any feelings of stigma or being “singled out” for special instruction as well as creating a more inclusive and educationally diverse learning environment. [new paragraph] Supports include: parent and teacher consults; developmental assessments and observations; integrated/remedial movement; therapeutic eurythmy; remedial literacy; remedial math; enrichment classes for the gifted learner; Life Skills Program; guidance and referral to external remedial professionals; personal tutors; lunch clubs (social-emotional learning); Internal Education Support Plans.

Middle and High School Virtual Tour

The Waldorf method provides our lower school with a nurturing and engaging environment where students in Grades 1-8 have the space to be children, to allow for a full-range of skills and capacities to open, and to become balanced, resilient human beings.

We have found that by strengthening children’s creative skills and integrating artistic, practical, and environmental learning experiences, they develop perspective and become more focused learners, leading to greater success with language arts, science, math, and social sciences.

In Grades 1 through 8, our students engage in meaningful hands-on experiences that strengthen academic, artistic and, practical skills, build capacities for creativity, and encourage more in-depth study in preparation for the rigors of high school.

What extracurricular opportunities are available for children? Do they play competitive sports against other schools?

We have opportunities for after-school involvement in ecology club, science Olympiad, beekeeping, after-school sports, girl scouts, after-school arts, chamber orchestra and drama. Although we have soccer, basketball, volleyball and running clubs for our younger students, our more formal competitive sports program doesn’t begin until 7th grade. We currently have enough interest to field HVS teams in Cross Country, Girls Volleyball and Basketball, but our hope is to grow our offerings. For those interested in other sports, we have a merger agreement with our school district to allow our students opportunities to pursue soccer, baseball, swimming and other athletics by joining the nearby Taconic Hills competitive teams.

Supporting service opportunities and volunteerism is another area we value. Our student musicians play for local nursing homes and Camphill communities. Our 8th grade students take on an independent service project for which they complete a research paper and give an oral presentation. In high school, students have a service requirement of 40 volunteer hours each year to keep them more engaged in the wider community.

How does the school support students who have academic, social or emotional difficulties? Does the school have a well-staffed learning support department?

We have a school counselor who is available to students, teachers and parents with the social-emotional support of our children. Depending on the circumstance, she meets one-on-one with students, does small group work, leads discussions on pertinent topics and supports restorative conversations in classes.

We also have a Therapeutic Education Coordinator who oversees our Hickory Program. This program provides those students who might benefits with push-in support, pull-out small group work, academic tutoring and life skills classes.

In addition, we have a team of three other teachers who work with students to provide literacy and math support.

What is the approach to teaching science in a Waldorf school?

What is the role of technology in the Middle School grades?