Special subjects in a Waldorf school support the Main Lesson work and are integral to the students’ educational experience.
Eurythmy is an art form unique to Waldorf education. The unique quality about Eurythmy is that the medium for the art is the body itself. Through gestures, students bring expression to poetry and music, working with beat, rhythm, and pitch, phrasing and dynamic, the musical tones and intervals. Eurythmy supports the development of a child’s healthy relationship to his or her body. By the time the students are in high school, they can perform Eurythmy to complex musical compositions and exquisite poetry.
Elements and Benefits of Eurythmy include:
- Spatial orientation and coordination
- Geometric forms and their inherent logic
- Rhythm and proportion
- Polarities of all kinds: lightness and heaviness, contraction and expansion, large and small
- Agility in the feet and expressivity in the hands
- Social collaboration and coordination
- Sensitivity to position of self and to where others are in space
- An appreciation for the liveliness of language
Working in the biodynamic garden provides students an ongoing opportunity to develop an innate, harmonious sense of being at home on the Earth. The children experience each contribution they make to the garden as a link in a long chain of contributions by others. They learn to work for the love of work, and for the sake of the whole rather than for personal gain. This gives them a basis for building true community. Other gardening themes include nature observation, development of gardening skills and craft skills.
The Movement curriculum brings children into harmony with their physical bodies, building their senses of self, movement and balance in time and space. Grades one through five are led through games to aid in the completion of their physical development, which will serve them well in the competitive realm of sports in the middle and high school years.
The curriculum develops individual and team skills in fine and gross motor work with throwing, catching, running, climbing, gymnastics, circus arts and sports. Pentathlon skills are introduced in the fifth grade, archery in sixth, and activities in middle and high school include orienteering and track and field. The students are encouraged to develop new games and build capacities to organize groups, cooperate with teams, and umpire activities in a fair and balanced way.
Music is a core subject and permeates and inspires every aspect of our school life. Music flows through the curriculum, from music class to main lesson and special subjects classes. Musical growth comes through experiences in listening, singing, playing, moving, creating, reading and performing music. From first grade on children also play musical instruments—Choroi flutes in the early grades, stringed instruments in fourth and fifth grade, and the family of recorders, developing into a full orchestra of instruments in the middle and high school grades. The experience of tone, beat and rhythm comes first, and this joyful immersion leads to an understanding and awareness of these elements and of the art of music.
Drawing & Handwork
The Waldorf curriculum reflects what current neuroscience acknowledges: the hand engages the brain just as surely as the brain engages the hand. Working with the hands improves many aspects of learning including fine motor coordination, visual processing, pattern recognition, managing and storing information, and the quality and expression of ideas.
Every day, Waldorf students work with their hands in multiple ways, including handwriting, form drawing, artistic drawing, painting, handwork and crafts.
Form Drawing - Drawing
Form drawing is an activity unique to Waldorf schools and one that provides an artistic basis for geometric work, mathematical patterning, and preparatory forms for letters and handwriting. Form drawing also includes precise instruction in the grip of writing tools, posture, left to right flow and sequencing. Visual memory and discrimination are other important skills fostered by form drawing.
The objective of foreign language teaching in Waldorf education is to offer the students the opportunity to live in the “genius” of the language. By experiencing the musicality and individuality of Spanish and Mandarin, through daily rhythms, repetition, and recapitulation, and as the foreign languages penetrate their being, the students will develop the capacity to think with flexibility.
In the process of learning foreign languages through Waldorf methods the children will first and foremost develop the capacity to become open and welcoming to new situations and human encounters. The early introduction of oral Spanish and Mandarin in full immersion also enables the children to enrich their speech development with new sounds, yielding the ability to speak the foreign languages with little or no accent, should they develop fluency through continued study after eighth grade. In keeping with the aim of the lower school curriculum in general, the goal of foreign language study is not to produce precocious results – e.g. a particular degree of fluency – but rather to develop foundational capacities that will bear fruit later in life. Depending on individual aptitude and effort, students will either find themselves with a solid foundation for the high school introductory foreign language classes or be able to begin at the second level.
Note to Prospective Parents and Students
Please do not be intimidated if you are a newcomer! We frequently hear parents (and older students) express the concern that “my child can’t do those things; how can they be successful?” Each year, new students are integrated at all grade levels, most of whom have never before participated in these Waldorf subjects. Very quickly they discover that, with effort and practice, a certain ability and style emerges from within. We believe that everyone is an artist and the focus is on the process rather than the end result.