In addition to the broad arts-infused academic curriculum we offer a variety of specialty classes taught by teachers whose focus in on a particular subject.
In the early grades, Spanish is taught largely through imitation, storytelling, verses, songs, drama, recitation, games, puppetry, and movement. The teacher places great emphasis on pronunciation and speech. The teacher works to instill the students with joy and pride in learning the target language and culture. Comprehension rather than output is emphasized.
In Grades 4-5 writing and reading become a focal point. Beginning elements of grammar are taught. The language teacher uses dialogues, storytelling, verses, songs, tongue twisters, and small plays during instruction. Throughout these years, the students’ vocabulary comprehension increases, and they are able to say simple descriptive sentences, perform dialogues, and retell simple stories.
All children at CWS participate in music education beginning with singing in early childhood and pentatonic flutes in the first and second grade. In the fourth grade, all students learn to play an instrument (violin, viola, cello or bass) and continue through eighth grade.
Strings classes are offered twice a week in fourth through eighth grade. After basic instrumental skills are established, music reading is introduced and enhanced through the playing of beginning string literature. Students have many opportunities to perform in assemblies, in the community and at special events. Many continue in high school and beyond.
We teach handwork in order to learn practical skills and dexterity but also to further cognitive development. Handwork supports every student’s unfolding as a well-balanced individual with self-confidence. Mathematical concepts such as parallelism, mirror imaging, progression and geometric forms are implicitly experienced through a tactile learning process. Students receive fundamental skills and understanding to experience how basic materials are made. As the projects become more complex through the grades they gain a great appreciation for the development of processes and technology.
For first and second grade, children learn to knit and purl. In third grade they learn to crochet and throughout the year will process fleece and learn to spin on a drop spindle. In fourth grade, the children take up cross-stitch. In fifth grade, children learn how to knit with four needles and make socks. Sixth grade brings the opportunity to design and hand-sew an animal. Seventh grade progresses to hand-sewn dolls and doll clothing. In the eighth grade, while students are studying the Industrial Age, the Handwork curriculum involves learning to sew with a sewing machine.
Gardening class is taught in grades two through five through hands-on work in our school garden and greenhouse. Students gain practical knowledge of year-round gardening and participate in all areas of production from composting to planting to harvesting. In the spring and fall, students work in small groups to care for the garden. During the winter months, our attention turns to using what we harvested and dried in the warmer months, such as dyeing fiber with plants, making herbal salves and syrups , and making brooms from broomcorn. In the winter, students also study our campus soil, assess the habitat we provide to wildlife, and learn about the main botanical families found in the garden. Students have an active role in the care of our flock of ducks, the maintenance of our three rainwater harvesting systems, and our rain garden and pollinator gardens. Through experiencing the rhythmic nature of the garden through the seasons year after year, students develop a deeper connection to the food they eat and the land where they live.
At each grade level, games are taught to develop physical skills, mental agility, and social cohesion. Games class develops a sense of formation – how players position and conduct themselves in a team setting. Gymnastics and fitness activities demand all-around skill, spatial awareness and courage. In fifth grade, the Greek Games build on the social studies lessons in the classroom. A seventh and eighth grade track meet provides another opportunity for the students to challenge themselves as well as meet students from other Waldorf schools.
In grade five, the practical art of woodworking instruction begins. The student learns to work with various hand tools, shaping and forming useful objects such as a bowl and spoon, bringing form and function to blocks of wood. Later, projects with moveable parts are introduced. Woodworking develops creativity, three dimensional thinking and the art of patience. Endurance, accuracy and confidence skills are strengthened as the student gradually brings forth a purposeful object from the wood.