Waldorf Math Stories

four processes Jul 16, 2023

Question: If my child doesn't have their times tables memorized, should I hold him/her back until they do?

Answer: No. In Waldorf, there really is no concept of holding children back like there would be in public school. Of course we always talk about the history & language arts material fitting the child's age, but what about math? I have found that some children pick up math quickly and others are a little poky about it. I firmly stand behind Waldorf math and the way it is laid out and the concepts are introduced. We wrote our math book based on those concepts - all Steiner.

The thought behind it is mastery, but not in the same way that we would in a public school setting.  There are no timed tests. We allow the children to make a times table sheet and we give them the space they need to learn them. Some children are in 4th grade, others in 7th! They will get tired of looking them up and commit them to memory. I have watched it happen with my children at different times. Practice together, in the car while running errands, toss bean bags - remember that you are looking whole to parts so don't just ask what is 6x2, ask what is 12?

Keep in mind that the math builds so don't skip anything. When in doubt, go back to our lessons for grade 1 and move forward from there until your child is challenged. Also, keep in mind if a student shows a gift for math, let them explore it (after first grade of course.)

This is from a lesson you could do with either a first grader as a fun introduction or with a second grader as a review and also writing practice. The poems we modified a bit from Dorothy Harrer's originals but she also clearly states that she got her poems in part from Margaret Peckham... so maybe I've got the spirit of both of them working with me? Who knows but we are having loads of fun!

Division is a kind gnome with each one she will share the jewels which she gathers and divides with greatest care.

Plus keeps whatever he can find, each hand holds quite a heap.  He adds the jewels together and says "they're mine to keep!"

Minus is a careless gnome, he loses everything, his ragged bag is empty for he subtracts everything.

Time knows quite well that 2 times 2 make 4.  She always likes to multiply so that she'll have much more.

Times and Plus go on a walk one afternoon through a magical meadow.  Why is the meadow magical? well... it is full of jewels and you know how much the gnomes love jewels!  Times loves to skip count by twos and Plus loves to add two to each sum.

2 + 2 is 4
2 + 4 is 6
2 + 6 is 8  and so on.

Then you can go back over the two's table (just through 12) for practice.  

Once you are finished going through them and have them all on paper, it is easy to say

"What is 10?"  and then the answer of course from this picture is that 10 is 2 + 8 and also 2 X 5.

Read more about the Four Processes here.
View our math curriculum here


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