Beginning in first grade the children learn two foreign languages, Spanish and German. Through story, song, rhyme and movement, first, second, and third grade students become acquainted with other cultures, as well as the vocabulary and cadences of the languages. They experience the food, festivals, and dance of these cultures. Grammar and reading begin with games in the fourth grade and continue more formally in the middle school. The students present short plays, songs, and poems in Spanish and German at school assemblies.
Handwork is taught in all grades because coordinated movement of the hands and limbs is essential to the development of the intellect. Both boys and girls learn to knit in first grade, creating simple balls, gnomes, and animal forms. In second through fifth grades they learn to crochet, cross-stitch and knit with four needles. In sixth grade, when they enter the life-changing stage of adolescence, all students In eighth grade, while studying the Industrial Age, the students learn to make clothes using an electric sewing machine. Throughout the grades, projects are of a practical nature: potholders, toys, hats, socks, pillows, and articles of clothing. Handwork classes teach children to complete challenging tasks and to appreciate each other’s work. Mathematical concepts such as parallelism, mirror imaging, progression and geometric forms are implicitly experienced through this tactile learning process. The aesthetic experience of creating beautiful objects also nourishes the child’s emotional sensibilities.
Students need and love for games and sports is recognized and met in the grade school with organized physical education classes. Gym activities help improve balance, rhythm, and coordination. In the elementary school, games stress teamwork rather than competition. In the middle school, physical education continues to stretch physical and mental capacities. Our fifth grade students participate in an inter-school Olympic Pentathlon.
Music is an integral part of the student’s experience at our school. Singing and recorder playing begin in first grade under the guidance of the class teacher. Starting in third grade, each student learns to play a stringed instrument and participates in a group lesson taught by the strings teacher. Chorus classes begin in first grade, building upon the daily singing students experienced in kindergarten. There are regular opportunities for performance at recitals, school assemblies, and seasonal celebrations.
Drama, painting, drawing, modeling, and coordinated movement are thoroughly integrated into every aspect of the academic curriculum, including the science and mathematics courses. Students learn to illustrate complicated logarithmic spirals through precise drawing with a compass. The pyramids of Egypt may be modeled in clay, the mythological characters of ancient Greece depicted in watercolor paintings, and the music of medieval Europe performed on a recorder. Class plays are chosen (or written) according to the themes of the Main Lesson. First grade students may act out fairy tales, while eighth graders may perform a Shakespeare comedy. Every student illustrates his or her own Main Lesson books and reports, creating original textbooks full of artistic and academic endeavors.
In fifth through eighth grades, students learn hands-on woodworking. They use hand tools to rasp, file, gorge and plane. They learn to appreciate the life-imbued medium of wood and to work rhythmically and sensitively. Creating a sequence of useful objects such as cooking spoons, bowls and three-legged stools reveals the fundamentals of sculptural form, simple yet beautiful. The sense of completion and success in this practical work creates balance and strengthens their will.