This fall, third grade students at the Waldorf School of Lexington skipped the school bus and walked a mile and a half each way to a local farm. After visiting chickens and cows and petting the lambs, students split into groups and got to work. One group harvested two rows of carrots with pitchforks, while the other shoveled manure to muck out a stall in the barn. Still full of energy, the kids set to work on the strawberry patch, pulling up two wheelbarrows full of weeds and hauling them to the compost pile.
Lauren Yaffe, the Meadow Mist farmer, was delighted to see the students’ attitude and ability. “They jumped in with both feet! They were interested, talkative, and tremendously enthusiastic. Absolutely no fear of hard work or getting dirty.”
Farming is one of the central themes of the Waldorf third grade curriculum. Throughout the year, teacher Jeanette Voss will take her third graders on several field trips to working farms, allowing them to experience the rhythm of agricultural and seasonal cycles. The excursions also involve students in volunteering and place-based education.
At WSL, all third graders take their first week-long trip to Hawthorne Valley Farm, a 700-acre biodynamic farm whose mission, in part, is "to connect children and adults with the land and the food that nourishes them."
“Developmentally, it’s critical that children interact directly with the natural world,” said Andy Freeburg, WSL’s woodworking and gardening instructor. “Research has shown that children’s linguistic and cognitive capacities develop by engaging all the senses in direct experience.”
By learning about food sources, the cycles of planting and harvesting, and the tangible sensations of earth itself, third graders at the Waldorf School of Lexington deepen their understanding of the world they inhabit.
Learn more about the Waldorf School of Lexington curriculum for grades 1–8.