At The Waldorf School of Philadelphia there are seven Special Subject teachers who are specialists in their own field. These seven teachers work closely with the Grades Faculty to synchronize and integrate their work with topics being taught during Main Lesson.
The Handwork curriculum is broad and includes skills such as knitting, crocheting, hand sewing, embroidery, felting, paper crafts, pattern design and machine sewing. Many of the benefits of the Handwork program are obvious: hand-eye coordination; basic math skills such as counting, the four math processes, basic geometry; the ability to understand and follow a process from concept to completion; and the ability to focus on a project for an extended period of time.
There are more subtle rewards that complement these obvious benefits. Students must prepare and care for materials. Many of the created items have a practical use – a case for a flute, a needle book, a pair of socks. Design and color choice allow for individual creative expression.
One of the most far-reaching benefits of Handwork class is the social aspect.
While there are times when quiet is needed, such as when you are learning a new stitch, most of the time the atmosphere in the classroom is social and conversational. Students learn to speak politely to one another and respect is fostered.
Music is an essential part of the curriculum and permeates the school day from kindergarten through eighth grade. Music not only enlivens the spirit but also increases a child's capacity for learning. Through the study of music, we learn to sensitize our hearing, allowing us to better listen to the sounds of the world and each other.
Starting in fourth grade and continuing through eighth, students have the opportunity to experience the joys of learning to play a string orchestral instrument. Weekly orchestra instruction complements a student’s private string instrument class. Students may choose to play violin, viola, bass or cello.
Games and Movement
In a culture where organized team sports hold such high status, children can come to think only in those terms. At The Waldorf School of Philadelphia, our Games and Movement curriculum cultivates basic coordination and movement skills that will help when students decide to play organized sports. Our Games curriculum grows from the belief that spatial awareness and intelligence, as well as a joy of physical movement are essential components of living a full and balanced life.
With the guidance of our experienced Games and Movement teacher, students will explore movement activities ranging from imaginative or strategic games to tackling challenging obstacle courses and eventually competitive games.
This multifaceted program provides the opportunity for children to truly play as they develop their skills.
Importantly, our games program teaches the students to play with each other before they play against each other, to acknowledge each other, to play safely and to gain an appreciation for all kinds of movement. The Games program enables students to move fully and enter into a more healthy relationship with the world.
From kindergarten on, students at The Waldorf School of Philadelphia learn through Eurythmy to move together with others. As the Eurythmy curriculum becomes more complex through the years, students learn to move around seven-pointed stars and other complicated patterns, always with “the other” in mind, progressively more in harmony with the movements of fellow students.
The students develop a sense of where they are in space and how they relate to others. And they learn to move as part of a group.
Each of the arts helps the children develop in various ways; Eurythmy deepens the children’s experience of great poetry and music. It helps them acquire an inner and outer grace, an aesthetic sensibility and a feeling for social harmony. Eurythmy’s work with rhythm and geometry can aid the children in their study of mathematics and in developing good focus and improved concentration.
The Spanish language curriculum at WSP begins in the early grades through the telling of thematic stories, singing songs, reciting poems, playing games rich in images. By the upper grades, students are focusing on Spain and its epic poetry, geography, legends, songs and dances. Later, we delve into Latin America geography and history, including the Aztecs, Mayas and Incas, as well as poetry from Latin-American authors. By Eight Grade the Spanish curriculum is rich and deep. Reading comprehension and fluidity of oral work is the focus; students are now able to create their own stories. Their understanding of culture is expanded through the biographies of Simon Bolivar, Cesar Chavez, Benito Juarez, Jose Marti and Frida Kahlo.
Weekly woodwork class begins in fourth grade and meets in our beautiful applied arts studio. Students first learn to complete simple shapes using fundamental tools including the handsaw, chisel, gouge, rasp and sandpaper. With these tools students learn to shape, smooth and polish wood.
The underlying goal of woodwork class is to teach students patience, perseverance and to take pride in their work.
Lessons from other disciplines are reinforced through woodworking. After learning about concave and convex surfaces in geometry, the students are challenged to chisel a serving spoon or bowl. Designs become increasingly difficult as the grades progress. Students acquire various joint techniques including the dovetail joint.
All tools are hand tools (no power tools are used).