Teaching Grade 5: The Golden Age: Feet Upon the Ground, Gaze Toward the Heavens

with Jen Kershaw

Grade five, often referred to as the “Golden Age of Childhood”, presents teachers with wonderful challenges and opportunities for supporting the developing young human being. Fifth graders bring a new awareness to their learning. No longer grappling with the nine year change, they have arrived at a place where balance, beauty, and grace can be found in the physical body as well as in the mood of soul. In this course, teachers will have the opportunity to prepare to meet both the challenges and the opportunities of this wonderful year!

The curriculum is our most valued instrument for guiding the fifth grader. Through it, the child moves into a period of transformation and climbs to the “summit” of middle childhood. Stories of the ancient civilizations mirror child development, and the shift in the child’s consciousness is reflected in the consciousness of the people in each civilization. Through the journey from India to Greece, the child feels “seen” and understood in soul, heart, and mind. With feet planted firmly on the earth, the child experiences the subject of geography in the ever-expanding panorama of North America. The natural world continues to unfold as the child becomes acquainted with the wonderful world of botany, where the souls of the plant kingdom “speak” to each of us. In addition, the keen observation required of this study supports the budding “thinking” of the child and sets the stage for the phenomenological sciences of the upper elementary years. The learning of mathematics embraces decimals and the wonderful world of freehand geometry.

Throughout this journey, the teacher serves as guide who leads the child in each new step forward. As the daily morning verse changes to “I look into the world…” the teacher provides embracing boundaries and a platform for the child to meet the world – to look out, seek understanding, and grow into a self–motivated human being.

The online platform for this course has been designed to inspire as well as support teachers in their preparation for the year ahead. Through “real time” discussion and artistic work, we will collaborate, share, and develop curriculum plans that meet the fifth grader. Participants will receive a curriculum resource packet that includes poetry, sample block outlines, and overviews, as well as a music/song audio (mp3). Artistic activities will be scheduled as well as an optional bi–weekly evening session to address specific questions or further topics of discussion.

Jen Kershaw has a B.A. in Acting/Theater Performance from the University of South Florida, a Masters of Science in Education from Wheelock College in Boston, Massachusetts, and a Waldorf Teaching Certificate from Antioch University New England. In the theater world, she performed with Metro Theater Company from St. Louis, Missouri, performing and teaching workshops across the United States. Jen has been teaching in classrooms for over twenty years, first as an artist educator, then as a middle school math and history teacher, and finally as a Waldorf class teacher. For the past three years, Jen has been a member of the adjunct faculty at Antioch University New England, where she has taught the Math Methods course for the Integrated Learning Program. Along with teaching, Jen has written and published middle school math curriculum both online and in print.

A class teacher at heart, she joined the faculty at High Mowing School in 2011 as an elementary school teacher; with her special education degree, she has also served as Educational Support Coordinator for the past four years. In 2018, Jen completed the eight-year journey as a class teacher and is now headed into fourth grade with her second class in the fall.

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