From Class 1 to Class 8 children are members of a class guided by their Class Teacher. In times beset with change and fast paced living, the continuity of the class and the class teacher offers children security and the opportunity for deepening relationships. Supporting the class to become a healthy social group is not something that merely happens as a matter of course. It develops through the cultivation and conscious attention of the Class Teacher in partnership with the parents.
At the core of social development in a Steiner classroom is the orchestration of the class as a whole, drawing the individuals together to form a class group. The social fabric of the class is woven together through rhythm and daily routine. The class further develops in this way through play, caring engagement and behavioural expectations, as well as lessons and activities that require co-operation and concentration and activities which allow children to experiment with group dynamics and relationships.
The relationship between teacher and class, and between individual students will change over time, as the children grow and develop and their inner lives awaken. The teacher aims to promote within the children positive attributes and qualities such as compassion, patience and resiliency, and to address other social behaviours. In the younger classes these qualities are addressed less directly and more imaginatively.
The use of stories to highlight occurrences in the playground can provide the children with a safe ‘looking glass’ to see an action and its effects on others. Often the stories provide the children with an alternative ending, to help them see a way out of their difficulty. As the children grow up, stories can still be effective, but now other tools can be used, such as activities that bring together children who don’t normally interact and addressing incidents more directly as they arise.
During the Class Teacher period, over time, the teacher and children come to know and understand each other. The children, feeling secure in a long-term relationship, are better able to learn. The interaction of teacher and parents also can become more meaningful over time, providing a better basis for cooperation in helping the child. Throughout these years, as well as the class teacher, the children will also experience specialist subject teachers, which bring to the children eurythmy, handcrafts, a foreign language, instrumental music and gym.