RF 3.3 A-D / RF 3.4 A-C: A Love of Reading Makes Decoding Unnecessary (#231)


A Year in the Life: Ambient Math Wins the Race to the Top!
Day 231

For one year, 365 days, this blog will address the Common Core Standards from the perspective of creating an alternate, ambient learning environment for math. Ambient is defined as “existing or present on all sides, an all-encompassing atmosphere.”

And ambient music is defined as: “Quiet and relaxing with melodies that repeat many times. Why ambient? A math teaching style that’s whole and all encompassing, with themes that repeat many times through the years, is most likely to be effective and successful.

Back to the Common Core for Grade 3 English Language Arts Standards. Math By Hand integrates language arts with math, and though the Waldorf curriculum is taught in blocks, none of the subjects are really taught in isolation. Integration is key, and the ambient standards posted here will reflect that. The Common Core language arts standards are listed here in blue, followed by ambient language arts suggestions.

Phonics and Word Recognition:
Know and apply grade-level phonics and word analysis skills in decoding words.

Identify and know the meaning of the most common prefixes and derivational suffixes.

Decode words with common Latin suffixes.

Decode multisyllable words.

Read grade-appropriate irregularly spelled words.

Read with sufficient accuracy and fluency to support comprehension.

Read grade-level text with purpose and understanding.

Read grade-level prose and poetry orally with accuracy, appropriate rate, and expression on successive readings.

Use context to confirm or self-correct word recognition and understanding, rereading as necessary.

Waldorf takes a whole-language approach to reading.  Children learn to read through writing.  Letters are the first step, as each one is taught in a loving and unhurried way in Grade 1.  Sounds are never laboriously attached to letters and syllables.  There is no need for decoding when reading seemingly magically happens, usually mid to end of third grade, through exposure to and writing about literature.

When the child is not pressured to read, but simply allowed to experience the joy of the story without that encumbrance, the sheer love of story becomes an irresistible impetus to learn to read for oneself!  Here’s an example of lovingly rendered letters “w” and “f” taken from a story about a fisherman, from Catie Johnson’s Chalkboard Drawings in the Waldorf Classroom.


Spelling needs to come from the meaning of words.  Again, taking words apart to learn how to spell them is counter-productive.  The whole to parts approach really applies to every aspect of Waldorf education.  The child perceives ripping things apart in order to more easily teach them, in effect sacrificing integrity to convenience, as an act of violence.  Here is a helpful article called Why Some Kids Can’t Spell, and Why Spelling Tests Won’t Help.

Waldorf students are given literature that’s way above grade-level, at all grade levels.  Long, complex poems, verses, songs, limericks, tongue twisters and more are learned by heart long before they are independently read.  So again, love of the subject comes before technical ability, in fact it really does engender excellence and technical ability far greater than anything learned by rote or in parts could.

Because knowledge ensues in an environment dedicated to imaginative, creative knowing, where student and teacher alike surrender to the ensuing of knowledge as a worthy goal.  Tune in tomorrow as we continue to explore ambient counterparts to the CCSS language arts standards.

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