What we want is to see the child in pursuit of knowledge, and not knowledge in pursuit of the child. ~George Bernard Shaw
In the early Waldorf grades, science is taught by living and experiencing it rather than reading textbooks and memorizing facts. Our nature walks tell us that the seasons are changing by the simple act of observation.
We notice the change of leaves and talk about why they change, how the days are getting shorter and how the trees are getting ready to sleep for winter. This leads to us talking about how trees and plants make food by using the sun and how they know when the days are growing shorter it is time to sleep. We talk about how they give off oxygen and take in carbon dioxide in order to live and how we do the opposite. We notice that some trees do not change, they keep their “leaves” and we talk about how there are two different categories of trees. Always curious to know more, we decide to collect some leaves and then later get a book from the library where we will find out what kinds of trees the leaves once belonged to. We will press them and wax them and put them in a book and learn to write their names. We learn what kind of bark they have and what kind of seeds they drop. We experience the forest and the trees and they become a part of who we are. The next time out, Julien will pick up a leaf and tell me what tree it is from and will then run down the path and point out the Red Pine simply by looking at the bark. This is our science lesson.
We learn about acids and bases in the kitchen. We learn, through trial and error, why following a baking recipe is so important, that there is a balance to be had. Julien has taken to creating “recipes” lately. Sometimes he gets it right and comes up with things like crepes.
Sometimes not. When it fails, we talk about why. What was missing? Was there enough stabilizer? Leavening agent? Too many wet ingredients? Not enough structure? He is learning by hands on experience how chemical reactions work. This too is our science lesson.
There is so much to be learned in our daily life, so much to experience and to take in. Children are curious by nature, when you let them lead, they will amaze you at what they can uncover themselves. There will be a time for textbooks and memorization later, but for right now, the world is our classroom and we are enjoying exploring all it has to teach us.