In addition to the main lesson academic work, we offer a wide variety of other subjects. Each one has been chosen to draw out specific capacities within the students.
Throughout the grades the students learn both German and Spanish. Our foreign language classes are taught by native speakers who immerse the children in their language in a warm and fun atmosphere. The early grades are taught through imitation, repetition and movement. Most of the work is done through songs, games, and stories. The content follows the developmental stages of the child. Once they reach grade four the students write and illustrate the poems, songs and stories that they learned orally in previous years. Once in their teens, students develop their vocabulary through conversation and reading assignments. While learning these languages, the students also hone their listening skills, cognitive flexibility, and appreciation for other cultures.
Music is an integral part of Waldorf Education. Teachers nurture the students’ musicality by infusing each school day with music. Throughout the day, children sing songs from a variety of traditions and cultures. Teachers endeavor to find songs for each subject presented to the children. Students begin playing the Choroi flute in first grade and violin in third grade. Music invigorates the spirit and increases a child’s capacity for learning. Through the study of music, the students’ hearing is sharpen which allows them to better listen to the sounds of the world and to each other.
In handwork class, the students use natural fibers to create objects that are both attractive and useful. The level of complexity increases each year as they work on more challenging projects, as well as learn new skills. In the first grade children learn to knit, in second they crochet. In third grade the students learn to spin and weave, and in fourth grade they learn complex cross stitch and embroidery. At the same time, fourth graders also begin to use many woodworking tools to sculpt and build with wood.
The benefits of this kind of work include hand-eye coordination, basic math skills such as counting, the four math processes, and basic geometry. They also learn the ability to understand and follow a process from concept to completion, as well as focus on a project for an extended period of time. The concentration and persistence that this work demands is rewarded by the pride in making something completely by hand. Children learn to correct their mistakes and value quality, utility, and hard work.
Recent brain research has found that the interrelationship of the hand and eye allows more neurological pathways to function. This type of handwork is helping to train the brain for the abstract thinking that begins around age twelve.
Our movement program fosters confidence and presence in one’s own body, spatial awareness, coordination, endurance, strength, grace, and sportsmanship. Traditional circle and line games are themes of the early grades. The children learn how to play with each other rather than compete against each other. In fifth grade students spend the year training for the Greek Pentathalon, in connection with their studies of ancient cultures. In sixth grade traditional sports are introduced.
Waldorf students begin drawing in a more formal way beginning in first grade, as they illustrate what they have written in their main lesson books. Each year they become more observant and skillful as they learn new techniques, and experiment with different materials. Watercolor painting is also practiced frequently. Through water color, students develop a strong sense of color and learn to create form through the color. Students also learn to sculpt, first in beeswax and then in clay. By eighth grade students have a firm foundation in pencil, charcoal and pastel drawing, watercolor painting, and clay modeling, and they have come to perceive their surroundings in a more conscious way.
Eurythmy is a dance-like art form created by Waldorf education founder Rudolph Steiner in which music or speech are expressed in bodily movement; specific movements correspond to particular notes or sounds. Eurythmy enhances coordination and strengthens the ability to listen. When children experience themselves like an orchestra and have to keep a clear relationship in space with each other, a social strengthening also results.
Hands in the Earth
Our hands in the earth program allows the students to reconnect with nature as well as gain a deeper understanding of the close connection between geography, climate, seasons, plants and soil. Gardening is also a chance for the students to do meaningful work, get healthful exercise, and grow extremely fresh and nutritious food.