we spent the better part of last week with 16 third graders, their magnificent lead teacher and a handful of amazing parent chaperones from the waldorf school of louisville. the farm trip is a right of passage for these nine and ten year olds, many have heard tales of the creek and the farm animals, the cabin and the outhouse, the chores and the fun from their older siblings. it is the culmination of their third year and an integral part of the waldorf curriculum.
in the third grade most children go through the nine year change: it is of great significance according to ruldolf steiner, founder of waldorf education. a child this age is leaving the kingdom of early childhood and the realization that the self is separate from the world around him starts to sink in: it can be an emotionally difficult time. as with all other childhood phases, steiner designed the curriculum to soothe the pains, ease the transitions and educate for these developmental changes. for the nine year old waldorf education means immersion in old testament tales alongside daily lessons in food, clothing and shelter. the newly identified sense of self is soothed knowing how to raise her own food and have a start with simple woodworking. on the deepest level, the child is calmed having been exposed to these age old skills of self sufficiency.
we have been hosting third grade farm trips here for 11 years. groups from near and far have come to celebrate the joys of on farm education with us. urban kids milk the cow and drink her milk fresh as it can be, lessons about meat and where it comes from are learned, seeds are sown. we have seen child after child transform here. self confidence shines while discovering new muscles working hard in the gardens, sheer glee emanates as they play in nature and eat fresh food growing beside the dining tables.
the third grade farm trip is truly a gift to these children, but it is most precious to us. every spring with each new visiting class , i am reminded how lucky i am to have this place, how blessed my children are to be so connected to this earth, and how thankful i am to be able to share this with so many. i already miss these new friends, but know we all carry a piece of this farm trip in our hearts.