In looking at work for the first grade, following Steiner`s indications, we would begin with two lines: the straight and the curved. The first year is the year when the child gains uprightness - so in this posture the child actually "draws" this form with her upright body. So you see it`s not just about drawing a line or letters or writing words... the reasons Steiner set forth for his specific methods of teaching go much deeper and as a Waldorf home educator you really do need to do the homework to understand completely what is going on. You must have a real understanding of coordination, movement, senses... the human ego and will forces and the soul force. Waldorf is about willing, thinking, feeling and all of this is going on in your child at all times! Physical movement with the child`s entire body should always precede any attempt at putting anything on paper. The child should be asked to stand straight with their arms straight above their heads. They should be able to run a straight line forward. They should attempt it with their eyes closed, then walk the line backwards and so on. Then they should draw the line in the air in front of them, and practice drawing it with their arms, hands, legs... A Ribbon stick is a wonderful tool for this practice.
Most Waldorf students learn to read or write without ANY pressure or anxiety. Most do not need to be "taught" how to read, but learn on their own, naturally and joyfully. The Waldorf school environment is permeated by language and literature and all subjects are presented first through the spoken word. As a result, Waldorf students develop a deep appreciation for language in all of its forms, and they become highly skilled in its many applications.
The whole belief can be compared to the observation of child`s speech. It goes from baby talk to more articulate speech. The child isn`t born speaking! Reading and writing are technical and mechanical skills which are more naturally and appropriately learned at a later stage of the child`s development. The value lies in the child getting a good foundation, where all of his cognitive and creative capacities are allowed to develop before being pushed to "stay within the lines". An interesting but little known fact is also that Steiner said that cursive writing should precede printing words..! (All about the forms again.) But generally, in American schools, cursive writing is not taught until the third grade because of the American view of learning to read. So, in effect, to keep up with the American standards of reading - this very important part of learning has been tossed aside due to pressures from outside sources! The current philosophies of the modern and mechanistic world are aimed at seeing early results. As a result they have devised one-sided, left brained achievement tests that have become the indicator of success or failure in education. These tests, as we all know, are useless. Yet they are a representation of the current system in place.