Working alongside the class teacher, a group of specialist teachers introduces the grade school student to several other important areas of the curriculum in the course of each day. Specialty classes are each offered twice a week and include: foreign language (Japanese), handwork, eurythmy (once per week), music, and games and movement. These classes are designed to broaden students’ cultural, social, academic, and practical skills and capacities. Specialty classes also offer the students the valuable and stimulating experience of working with a variety of teachers.
The golden window to learn foreign languages is still open in the early grades, when children have a direct access to the genius of the language without relying on intellect. Through recitation, singing, gestures, and games, the children learn language with feelings. This presentation mirrors the way children learn their own native language and instills a love of language and culture. Children’s flexible speech faculty assists the development of their mental flexibility and creates an openness to different ways of thinking.
Students in kindergarten currently have a Japanese lesson once per week, while the grades each have Japanese lessons twice weekly.
Working with the hands is an essential component of the Waldorf curriculum. Handwork develops fine motor skills, persistence and perseverance while strengthening related brain functions. The children use natural materials to create works of beauty and functionality; they work with great care and take enormous pride in their finished projects. Handwork techniques in the lower grades include knitting, purling, crocheting, spinning, simple weaving, cross stitch, and hand sewing.
Out of a core belief that music is a special art form that each human being has a natural ability to express, our music teacher helps children to find their own musical voice. Through singing, dance, movement, listening and instrumental work, the teacher creates a rich musical environment that meets the feeling life of each student in her classes. In early grades children learn to listen and sing in the pentatonic realm, with simple melodies, which float and allow for individual exploration. In third grade the children begin to move from the pentatonic realm to the beginning world of major and minor and as well they begin to sing in rounds. Instrumentally the interval flute and the pentatonic flute are introduced in first grade and carried into the second grade. In third grade learning of the diatonic flute begins and continues into fourth grade. At this time the children also begin learning to play a string instrument, often violin or occasionally ukelele. Combining singing, movement, notation, composition and instrumentation, we create a holistic musical environment in which the children find freedom through form.
Games and Movement
Besides providing the opportunity for the children to play games and have fun, games and movement class enhances development of spatial orientation, body coordination, and social awareness by teaching the children to acknowledge and play with each other, and to play safely, through age-appropriate games and movement activities.
Eurythmy is a performing art of movement that incorporates music and speech. Eurythmy is thus sometimes called “visible music” or “visible speech”, expressions that originate with its founder, Rudolf Steiner, who described eurythmy as an “art of the soul”. Eurythmy is taught in our Kindergarten and Grades. (Our eurythmy teacher is on sabbatical for the first part of this year. We look forward to resuming our eurythmy classes upon her return!)