Yearlong Classes Taught by Specialty Teachers
Morning Main Lesson is followed by subject classes such as Mandarin, Music, Gardening, and Gym. These classes are taught by Specialty Teachers who are experts in their subject areas. While Main Lesson provides in-depth exploration of subjects in blocks of four to six weeks, subject classes run through the year.
- World Languages
- Games & Gym
- Math Track—Middle School
The study of both Spanish and Mandarin provide balance in learning and contrasts in linguistics and culture.
Early grades lessons are filled with songs, poetry, stories, and rhymes that help children absorb the musicality and feeling of the language. Meaning is acquired slowly through repetition and accompanying visuals, gestures, intonations, and body language.
By second grade, students begin to respond conversationally, and in third grade they put pencil to paper, recording the story of elefante or mariposa. Students discover the Old Chinese characters from the pictures they draw and explore the progression to the modern characters. Stroke ordering is taught with colors of the rainbow – first a stroke of red, then orange, yellow, and so on.
Fourth grade marks an important curricular change: oral language acquisition is enhanced through reading, writing, dictation, and written exploration of grammatical structures. Students have the capacity to identify parts of speech, and are able to make written and oral presentations of their cultural studies. This process deepens and expands throughout fifth grade, where grammatical instruction in Spanish includes verb conjugation, personal pronouns, and gender agreement.
By the middle‐school years, students have a new focus on communication and new abilities to think conceptually. They choose to specialize in either Spanish or Mandarin, doubling instructional time. Language classes become skills classes which require practice, consistency, and analytical thinking. Selected biographies and works of literature, such as Don Quijote de la Mancha inspire students of this age.
From songs to orchestra to the sound of the klangspiel, children’s school lives are filled with music.
In first and second grades, songs are simple and sung in unison, and imagery and imitation is basis for instruction. Children learn to play the the pentatonic flute from their Class Teachers and the Music Teacher works with second graders on the pentatonic lyre and simple rhythm rondos. Music teaches children focus and concentration, enhances academic learning, and creates an appreciation for beauty in the world. Music reminds us that we are beings of body, mind, and spirit.
Third graders are ready for a different approach to music instruction and begin note reading. They explore instrument families and sing in simple rounds.
Each class in grades four through eight has its own orchestra and all students participate. Students have individual instrument lessons outside the school day, and Class Orchestra practices during music class under the direction of the Music Teacher. Repertoire is chosen for its melodic integrity, appropriateness of key and meter, and for the way it harmonizes and balances each individual class.
Fourth and fifth graders are just beginning to achieve a basic level of mastery over their instruments. The teacher emphasizes listening and tuning. Middle school-age students are ready for pieces that are challenging, diverse, and grounding. Harmonious and noble pieces by Classical composers appeals to the students of this age. These students also have the desire to be seen and heard as individuals. As they find their own voices, they are drawn to music with clearly differentiated tone qualities.
All students in 4th through 8th grades perform in the Spring Concert, a highlight of a year of music.
In kindergarten through grade three, children tend the garden.
With the gardening teacher, they plant, dig, harvest, and hear stories of nature. The children develop an understanding of seasonal cycles, beneficial insects, tool usage, plant cultivation, and food preparation. Their real work as farmer supports sensory integration and provides time for healthy movement.
Third graders, in their study of agriculture and farming, cook with fresh produce and serve a harvest meal to their class community. They also tend the garden plot outside their classroom and share a harvest meal with their class community.
The school uses biodynamic farming and gardening techniques, an approach that ensures a complex and healthy ecosystem. The biodynamic farmer pays particular attention to soil health and crop rotations.
The practical arts (handwork and woodwork) help students develop fine motor skills, concentration, aesthetic sensibility, and simple mathematics skills.
First graders turn wooden dowels in to knitting needles and begin to knit. By second grade, children can cast on and off, knit, purl, change colors, and sew pieces. Simple stories and verses guide children through their work and the children learn to work together.
Third graders learn to crochet, a new challenge in hand coordination. In their study of farming, the children follow the transformation of wool, from sheep to spun wool to cloth. Fourth graders embroider and learn stitches from other cultures. Each cross-stitch requires precision and concentration. Fifth graders learn knitting in the round and create socks and mittens. Concentration and skills in math are used to shape and turn the heel of a sock or add the thumb of a mitten.
Middle school age students take on increasingly complex projects: hand-sewn stuffed animals, wet-felted wool slippers, and flannel pajamas sewn on a machine.
Fifth through eighth graders create beautiful and useful objects from wood.
Students create a variety of utilitarian objects from wood: spoons, simple propellers, bowls, and small boxes. They also carve animal and other forms. In eighth grade, students create a four-legged stool.
Painting instruction begins with children's experiences of color.First and second graders explore the interaction of color while listing to a simple story: “Bold red hopped in the center and yelled, ‘Is anyone ready to play?’ Very shyly, quiet blue stepped forward and then circled around along the edge. He picked up his courage and went to meet red…” Children paint primary, secondary, and tertiary colors, and delight in the variety of color combinations and the “personality” of each.
By third grade children create compositions that express the content of a story as well as the mood of a season. Tertiary colors are mixed to form a variety of shades. The children see forms arise from the color: a bluish tree against a moonlit winter sky or a golden pyramid amidst the dry desert sands.
What happens when the sun illuminates one side of an image? Students explore active (lighter) and passive (darker) colors in fifth grade. By sixth grade they work with varied brushes and color saturation, and learn veil painting, a technique in which the artist uses gradual layers of color to create images. Seventh and eighth graders explore light and color through different times of the day, learn perspective from Renaissance artists, and work with pastels.
Movement supports learning, social growth, and future athletic development.
Children juggle, ride unicycles, throw javelins, climb walls, practice orienteering, and learn games from around the world. The activities support kinesthetic and spatial awareness, and strengthen social cooperation. Gaming strategies and movement formations also help children build logical and critical thinking skills.
In the first through third grades, children practice string and clapping games; jumping and vaulting; balancing and rhythm exercises. There is a focus cooperative games and physical awareness. Third graders have growing awareness of their individuality, and activities such as running and tagging games give them the ability to react react to stimulus from all directions.
In the fourth through eighth grades, students are increasingly challenged in cooperative and competitive play. Activities complement themes from the academic curriculum and students practice skills for regional athletic competitions with other Waldorf schools: Pentathlon in fifth, Global Games in sixth, Explorers Tournament in seventh, and Track & Field in eighth grade. Competitive Athletics teams are fielded starting in sixth grade.
Eurythmy is a movement art that integrates poetry, verse, and music.
In the early 20th Century, artists, whose work now defines modernism, experimented with new forms of architecture, painting, sculpture, music and dance, seeking a deeper understanding of their media and a more vital connection to the human being.
Eurythmy was created during this period when Rudolf Steiner, the philosopher, intellectual, and founder of Waldorf education, was asked if new meaning could be given to the art of dance. Steiner explored the world of speech and music, seeking archetypal forms and movements within the sounds themselves. From this exploration came Eurythmy, a unique movement art that is used in education and enjoyed in performance around the world.
Through eurythmy, children learn social awareness, spatial orientation, coordination, and artistic expression. They begin in first grade exploration of straight and curved lines and elements of pitch and rhythm. Through the grades they explore spatial and geometric forms and gestures for vowels and consonants. The classes learn to move together through increasingly intricate patterns and explore movement through a variety of poetry and musical pieces.
Math Main Lesson Blocks + Math Track Classes
Year-long math courses supplement math Main Lesson blocks beginning in sixth grade. Students have emerging powers of abstraction and are ready for more advanced mathematically challenges. Courses help students develop higher order thinking and reasoning skills, preserve in the face challenges, and discover the beauty of mathematics.
The sixth grader learn probability and statistics, exponents and roots, number theory, order of operations, and area and perimeter of polygons. (Main Lesson blocks include business math and geometry.)
Seventh graders are introduced to algebra, one and two variable linear equations, squaring a binomial, and algebraic properties. The class practices square root algorithm and more advanced power and root techniques. (Main Lesson introduces algebra and complements the year-long course.)
The eighth grade math course is Algebra I. Students take the course as far as they are individually able, and either continue algebra or take honors geometry in high school. (Main Lesson is a block in geometry.)