Fifth grade is sometimes referred to as the “golden year” because students at this age are enthusiastic about learning, eager for new challenges and capable of hard work and creativity. Even in the social arena, they display a harmony that will soon be challenged by the adolescent years. The curriculum must, therefore, not only continue to build on already established foundations, but introduce certain new elements to prepare them for this next step forward.
This is the year for study of ancient cultures. The students listen attentively to stories about ancient India, Persia, Mesopotamia, and Egypt. Children hear stories from the Iliad and Odyssey, learn a bit of ancient Greek, and participate in an Olympic Game-style Pentathlon with students from other Waldorf schools. Like the Greeks, fifth-graders begin to look closely at the natural world. Both inside and outside the classroom, students complete accurate and artistic drawings of plants and insects as part of their study of botany.