Curriculum Overview

Our curriculum respects diverse ethnicities, cultures, languages and religions. Our instructional program is grounded in the principles of Waldorf education, an art-infused education that has been nurturing children into responsible adults for almost 100 years in over 65 countries. Artistic school work empowers children to synthesize their experience of the world in a healthful and constructive manner. Research shows learning "in and through the arts" enhances the student's sense of accomplishment and well-being and leads to greater self confidence and higher achievement.

We strive to help each child succeed academically, while encouraging a balanced expression of each child's unique talents and leadership abilities. Instruction will interweave the intellectual, emotional, cultural and practical facets of human development while fostering the students deep love of learning, flexible creative capacities and a strong sense of self and community.

CSCE will meet or exceed California State Standards at each grade level in all of the following areas:

  • Reading & Language Arts
  • History and Social Science
  • Mathematics
  • Science
  • Visual and Performing Arts
  • Physical Education
  • Non-Native Language Instruction
  • Practical Activities
  • Computer Technology
  • Enabling Students to Become Life-Long Learners
  • Ensuring Equal Access for All Students

Reading and Language Arts

Instruction is fully aligned to state standards and curricular frameworks in each area of study. Students will work toward mastery of complex word forms in connected text, read grade level materials and expository text (including recall of sequence, main ideas, and supporting details), write compositions, and construct complete, correct sentences in communicating their ideas. Most important will be the goal that students enjoy and appreciate a variety of literature at each grade-level. Since both oral and written language development is essential, particularly in a multilingual environment, students will also develop competence in oral presentation of information beginning in the first grade.

All elements of the state content standards will be implemented at each grade level because all CSCE classrooms are language rich environments. Reading instruction begins in kindergarten and first grade with daily listening to artistically told stories, verses, songs and games that encourage imagination, visualization and memory development. By building awareness of the sounds of spoken language, we reduce the risk for future reading difficulties. Students listen, visualize images for the words and dramatize events in the story. The alphabet is introduced through multicultural stories and drawings of letters suggested by the sounds or names of objects in the literature. Sound-spelling correspondences are worked with in depth. Phonemic awareness is developed through recitation of verses, riddles, songs, tongue twisters, poems, plays and direct, explicit instruction. Reading texts are often taken from the classics of the world cultures and from the cultures represented in the school.

History and Science

As with Reading and Language Arts, instruction will be fully aligned with state standards and curricular frameworks at each grade level, which are as follows:

Kindergarten through 5th Grades:

  • Historical and Social Sciences Analysis Skills: chronological and spatial thinking; students correctly apply terms related to time, including past, present, future, decade, century and generation.
  • Research, Evidence and Point of View: students differentiate between primary and secondary sources.
  • Historical Interpretation: students identify the human and physical characteristics of the places they are studying and explain how those features form the unique character of those places.

6th through 8th Grades:

  • Chronological and Spatial Thinking: students explain how major events are related to one another in time.

Some Essential Strands & Skills:

1st grade

A Child's Place in Time and Space: Concepts of rights and responsibilities in the contemporary world.

2nd grade

People Who Make A Difference: The study of living or historical personages of importance.

3rd grade

Continuity and Change: American Indians, immigrants, physical and cultural landscape of California and the impact of traditions on contemporary society including the role of rules and laws in our daily lives.

4th grade

California A Changing State: Physical and human geographic features & the social political, cultural and economic life of the various settled periods; functioning of local, state and federal governments.

5th grade

US History and Geography: Making a New Nation.

6th grade

World History & Geography: Ancient Civilizations.

7th grade

World History and Geography: Medieval and Early Modern Times.

8th grade

United States History and Geography: Growth and conflict.


Mathematics instruction will follow the California State Content Standards. The following are some essential strands and skills for mathematics and a sample rubric for assessing skill attainment.

Number Sense: Students use estimation strategies in computation and problem solving that involve numbers that have ones, tens, and hundreds places; students compute with very large and very small numbers, positive integers, decimals and factions and understand the relationship between decimals, fractions, and percents.

Algebra & Functions: Students use and interpret variables, mathematical symbols, and properties to write and simplify expressions and (mathematical) sentences; students write verbal expressions and sentences as algebraic expressions and equations; they evaluate algebraic expressions, solve simple linear equations, and graph and interpret their results.

Measurement and Geometry: Students understand perimeter and area; students deepen their understanding of the measurement of plane and solid shapes and use this understanding to solve problems; students choose appropriate units of measure and use ratios to convert within and between measuring system to solve problems.

Statistics, Data Analysis, and Probability: Students organize, represent and compare data by category on simple graphs and charts; students make predictions; students compute and analyze statistical measurements for data sets; students collect, organize and represent data sets that have one or more variables and identify relationship among variables within a data set by hand or through the use of an electronic spreadsheet software program.

Mathematical Reasoning: Students make decisions about how to set up a problem; students move beyond a particular problem by generalizing to other situations; students evaluate the reasonableness of the solution in the context of the original situation.


CSCE will teach science in kindergarten through eighth grade using California State Standards for Science and our CSCE curricular and instructional strategies which are phenomenological and experiential. A wide range of sciences are taught, including geology, meteorology, biology and astronomy (see the California State Standards for Science and the Standards for California Public Waldorf Schools for details). Some science activities exceed the state standards. They might include observation of the environment, the practices of gardening, composting, recycling, cooking, field trips where astronomy, mountaineering, survival skills are learned. Science lessons sometimes stand on their-own and sometimes are related thematically and in an interdisciplinary way with other main lesson subjects.

Visual and Performing Arts

Through intensive exposure to the fine arts, instrumental and choral music, drama, and writing, the student awakens to his or her own artistic possibilities and develops confidence for becoming a creative individual. The student also learns to perform in front of an audience of peers, teachers, and at times, parents and their friends.

The visual arts include drawing, form drawing, beeswax modeling, and painting. In the upper grades clay modeling, wood and soapstone carving are added.

All the artistic subjects are integrated with the curriculum. For example, in fifth grade, students draw designs based on Greek and Egyptian styles in their main lesson books, as an introduction to talking and thinking about how a civilization’s beliefs and values are reinforced in its art and architecture.  Each student produces a main lesson book for every block of study. What begins as a blank journal becomes an individual record of experiences, observations and gained knowledge, along with hand-drawn illustrations, and often original poetry. As a portfolio of work, a student’s main lesson books reflect key understandings and skills a student has learned, while also displaying the student’s inspiration.

Students experience the performing arts as a medium for understanding history and social studies. Through acting in a scene or play set in a previous era, students can live into the reality of that time with their whole bodies to supplement what they receive in written and oral form.

Singing forms a part of many lessons at all grade levels. As the children grow, unison singing transitions to singing in two and three part rounds and later to singing in parts. Recorder playing begins in first grade and becomes more challenging and complex as is suited to each grade level. Stringed instruments are introduced in 4th grade.

Physical Education

That physical activities promote health and are essential to education is becoming increasingly recognized. If you visited a CSCE classroom you might see students clapping and jumping while learning times tables, standing up and dancing to the sounds of verses in morning circles, acting out mythological characters, or doing energetic puppet shows of Latino or Lao trickster stories. Students learn geometric forms by tossing and catching bean-bags in the shape of polyhedrons, or by using yarn to create these patterns. Children become the numbers (that is, they pretending to be the number 1 or the number 12) and act out plays that illustrate numerical relationships. These lessons have many benefits for instance; bean bag exercises promote a sense for rhythm and coordinated action with others. In a CSCE classroom because of the inclusion of physical activities throughout the day, you will not see bored students sitting at their desks working all day with paper and pencil. A significance consequence of enthusiasm is that the more engaged students are, the less behavior difficulties there are. Research has also shown the exercise improves classroom behavior and academic performance (Dwyer, Sallis, Blizzard, Lazarus, & Dean, 2001). At the CSCE, several periods of physical education and games are planned per week.

Non-Native Language Instruction

Ideally, two languages are taught beginning in first grade, giving the children insight into, and facility with, languages from other cultures. Depending on availability of teachers and resources, those languages will be Spanish and Chinese (Mandarin). Language instruction begins with games and simple songs, and involves reading, writing and grammar in the non-native language from third grade on. The school will maintain a pool of available language teachers and primary language interpreters. California State Framework for Teaching of Foreign Language will assist instructional practices.

Practical Activities

The CSCE-methods curriculum includes "handwork" skills such as knitting, crocheting, cross-stitch, sewing; and wood-working, metal work, house-building, cooking/baking, wood-frame construction, gardening and other hands-on projects. From a neurological point of view, knitting helps children learn to focus, to follow a sequence from left to right, to perfect fine motor skills, to develop eye hand coordination. Such 'active learning' has many benefits perhaps the most significant is building the brain's own capacity. On the biological side, active learning has many advantages. First, because it involves motion, it requires and brings more neural resources to the moment. This means an increase in attention, focus and thinking skills. Second, human beings are designed to recall better what we do actively than what we do passively. Active learning allows us to have a greater variety of unique mental, emotion and physical states, which are essential to learning (Sporns, Tononi, & Edelman, 2000). Each of these states mobilizes additional neurons in far different, more lasting and more complex ways than semantic (word-based) learning (Jensen, Eric, 2005). Practical activities also allow students time to become acquainted, to socialize and develop social sensitivity during these periods.

Computer Technology

CSCE will have a state-of-the-art computer lab with full internet access. Computer technology will be used beginning in fourth grade for projects such as class newspapers, research products, class websites and email regarding class events. Computer assisted instruction will be the main method of instruction for students with little or beginning English skills. Computer assisted instruction (CAI) will provide extra support for academically low achieving students. Keyboarding and safe use of the internet will also be taught. Electronic spreadsheet software programs will be introduced in seventh grade mathematics classes.

Enabling Students to Become Life-Long Learners

Students who have been provided knowledge, skills and rich educational opportunity to achieve high academic standards, develop their full potential and face the future with confident will value and appreciate education and become life-long learners. They will have the skills to thrive and knowing of and holding the traditions and cultural values of the past with honor, they will look creatively towards the future.

Ensuring Equal Access for All Students

The CSCE is committed to providing equitable, comprehensive instruction to all students and recognizes that every child is unique. As such the school is prepared to meet the varying needs of the students; of varieties of learning styles, of special populations, of English language learners, of gifted students, at-risk and/or below grade level students and those with special education needs. The CSCE believes that a truly inclusive environment welcomes all students and must be a priority in the minds of staff, teachers and students. By means of parent and home language surveys, core content baseline assessments, teacher observations and studying of student records, the school will seek to provide accurate and useful identification of all students. More importantly, the CSCE has the pedagogical expertise, focus and assessment supports to successfully meet these needs.