Grade Three is typically a time when children go through profound neurological and psychological shifts that occur between nine and ten years of age. We refer to this time as the “nine-year change.” Adults may notice that the children are becoming more critical as well as beginning to test everyone and everything. This is a natural process as children begin to see that they will one day have to leave the parental nest and make their own way in the world. This developmental process is met in the curriculum by connecting students with the practical experiences of life such as building, farming, and gardening, in addition to continuation of general academic subjects.
The stories of the Hebrew people reflect the child’s psychological experience. Like Adam and Eve, the children are leaving the paradise of childhood behind and are having to go out into the world and discover how to live with other people and with the land.
The study of gardening and shelters around the world meets the students’ needs to relate concretely to how they will make it one day on their own. Farming, gardening, food preparation, and house building are central themes of the curriculum and include planning and harvesting in the school garden; daily collection of compost buckets throughout the school to feed the garden; a visit to a working farm; and the study of shelter through the ages, around the world (influences of climate and environment on location and design of dwelling), usually including a small building project.