Special Subject ClassesThe Waldorf School of Philadelphia offers a fully-integrated learning experience through an unparalleled array of specialty classes that complement and extend the core academic subjects. Classes are led by qualified specialists who help students develop practical and physical aspects of a challenging, yet enjoyable, well-rounded education. Specialty classes are compulsory for all students and this particular array of classes is provided to cultivate deep learning across all aspects of human capacity. The specialty classes provide an impressive experiential encounter with themes that echo and parallel the whole curriculum.
The Spanish language curriculum begins in the early grades through the telling of thematic stories, singing songs, reciting poems, playing games rich in images. By middle school, students focus 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 eighth-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.
HandworkThe Handwork curriculum includes skills such as knitting, crocheting, hand sewing, embroidery, felting, paper crafts, pattern design and machine sewing. Some of the obvious benefits of the handwork program include improved 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 also more subtle rewards that complement these obvious benefits. Students 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, and design and color choice allow for individual creative expression. Most of the time the atmosphere in the classroom is social and conversational, and one of the most far-reaching benefits of handwork class is the social aspect.
Games and Movement
In a culture where organized team sports hold such high status, children can come to think only in those terms, the Games and Movement curriculum at the Waldorf School of Philadelphia 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 an experienced Games and Movement teacher, students 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 students 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 pre-school through eighth grade, 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 and progressively more in harmony with the movements of fellow students.
Eurythmy’s work with rhythm and geometry aids students in their study of mathematics, and developing focus and improved concentration.
MusicMusic is an essential part of the Waldorf curriculum and permeates the school day from early childhood to eighth grade. Music enlivens the spirit and increases a child's capacity for learning by helping to improve focus and concentration and by creating an atmosphere of wonder and appreciation for beauty in the world. Through the study of music, students learn to sensitize their hearing, allowing them to better listen to the sounds of the world and to each other.
String OrchestraLed by our experienced string orchestra teacher, students in fourth through eighth-grade participate in weekly string orchestra class. All 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. Fourth graders participate in their own training orchestra during a 40 minute period each week. Fifth through eighth graders are grouped by ability into two orchestras, Sinfonia Orchestra and the more advanced Chamber Orchestra, which meet for an hour once per week.
Woodwork class begins in fourth grade. 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 of this work takes place with the guidance of our experienced woodworking teacher in our dedicated woodworking shop.