Beginning in first grade the children learn two foreign languages, Spanish and German. Through story, song, rhyme and movement, grades one through three become acquainted with these cultures, as well as the vocabulary and cadences of the languages. In grade four, reading and grammar are introduced, and are continued more formally in the upper grades. All students experience the food, festivals, and dance of each culture. Often, classes will present short plays, songs or poems in Spanish or German at school assemblies.
Coordinated movement of the hands and limbs is essential to the development of the intellect and academic capacities, as well as physical integration of the child’s maturing body. For this reason, Handwork is taught in all grades, beginning even in Early Childhood. Handwork teaches 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 something beautiful also nourishes the child’s emotional sensibilities. All students learn to knit in first grade, creating simple toys and useful objects. In second through fifth grades, they build on those skills to learn crochet, cross-stitch, embroidery, and knitting in the round. In sixth grade, when they enter adolescence, the students learn to sew three-dimensional animals or dolls. Seventh grade often brings shoe-making or other practical work. The culmination of the Handwork curriculum comes in eighth grade while studying the Industrial Age and the introduction of the sewing machine – with this new tool, the students make clothing or quilts. Throughout the grades, projects are of a practical nature: potholders, cushions, toys, hats, socks, shoes and articles of clothing for example.
Movement / Games
In a culture where organized team sports hold such high status, children can come to think only in those terms. At Seacoast Waldorf School the Movement and Games curriculum cultivates basic coordination and movement skills that will help when students decide to play organized sports later on. Our Movement 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 an experienced Movement and Games 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 students to play with each other before they play against each other, to acknowledge each other, to play safely and gain an appreciation for all kinds of movement. The Games program enables students to move fully and enter in a more healthy relationship with the world.
Team sports as extracurricular activities are introduced at the middle school level.
Music is an integral part of the students’ experience at our school. Singing and recorder playing begin in first grade under the daily guidance of the class teacher, as well as General Music classes. In fourth grade, students also learn to play a stringed instrument in group lessons taught by the Music Director. Chorus is introduced in the third grade to build formal technique and repertoire (often relating in some way to the particular curriculum of each grade). Beginning in fourth grade, students learn to play a stringed instrument in group lessons. There are regular opportunities for performance at school assemblies, concerts 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 or nature stories, 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. The use hand tools to rasp, file, gouge 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 fundamentals of sculptural form, simple yet beautiful. The sense of completion and success in this practical work creates balance and strengthens their will.