HEAD, HANDS, & HEART
In addition to the broad arts-infused academic curriculum, Asheville Waldorf School offers a variety of specialty classes taught by teachers whose focus in on a particular subject.
“Children who learn while they are young to make practical things by hand in an artistic way, and for the benefit of others as well as for themselves, will not be strangers to life or to other people when they are older. They will be able to form their lives and their relationships in a social and artistic way, so that their lives are thereby enriched. Out of their hands can come technicians and artists who will know how to solve the problems and tasks set us by life.”– Hedwig Hauk from Handwork and Handicrafts, Indications by Rudolf Steiner
The handwork curriculum through the grades educates students on many levels. At its most literal level, students learn traditional crafting skills that have been practiced for centuries and are increasingly being lost to a digital world. Learning how to create beautiful and useful objects builds fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, powers of concentration, perseverance with difficult tasks, facility with counting and patterns, and the confidence and satisfaction that comes from making something by hand. At a deeper level, using the brain to control the hands, tools (such as knitting needles), and natural materials is a complex activity that, like handwriting, stimulates multiple regions of the brain and offers cognitive benefits.
Eurythmy plays a central role in Waldorf Education. As a pedagogical artistic subject, it serves to support the development of a healthy relationship to the body. This is done by providing a playful, stimulating and challenging way for children to strengthen their abilities in spatial orientation, coordination, memory and listening skills, geometric forms, as well as a sense of the liveliness of language, and an experience of the wisdom of music. Additionally, there is an important social component of eurythmy which helps children to develop social collaboration and coordination as well as a sensitivity to where they are and to where others are in space. Each grade has a eurythmy curriculum specifically crafted to meet the child’s current stage of physical, emotional, and cognitive development.
Instrumental music instruction begins in first grade with simple flutes. Starting in third grade, each student learns to play the violin and participates in group lessons (see Strings.)
Music class also includes the voice! By third grade, students are singing simple rounds. Beginning in third grade, all students are also taught music theory and by 5th-grade students are singing in harmonies. We introduce rhythmic and notation work and concepts of major and minor modes, as well as sight-singing.
Choral and instrumental performances take place regularly through school assemblies and seasonal celebrations. Students learn to feel confident performing in class and at school events. The experience of singing and playing music also provides a lively and harmonizing atmosphere to the culture of the school.
Foreign Language: Spanish
All students at AWS study Spanish first through eighth grade. In the “global village” of the 21st century, language instruction gives students insight into different cultures and broadens their perspectives. Not only does it serve the child in a practical sense of being able to speak Spanish, it also stimulates the mind encouraging it to work in new ways, cultivates the heart as the child explores new ways of feeling and nourishes the spirit. Oral work is key to learning languages in the early grades. Through songs, poems, rhymes, counting, games, stories and imagery the children are immersed in the language. In the later grades, written work is introduced as they continue to build off of the oral foundation from the earlier grades. Grammar is studied directly, students begin learning to read and write, and oral work is still practiced through poetic recitation. Along with language acquisition, the Spanish program fosters cultural competency; beginning by instilling a love and appreciation for Spanish speaking cultures and building off of that in the later grades by reading stories and poems written by native speakers and their experience in this country.
Beginning in fourth grade, students are introduced to violin, cello or viola. Things stringed instruments trains the ear in a deep way. Students refine their sense of pitch as each note is created by their fingers. The tangible vibrations of the string resonate near their heart through the flowing movements of the arm. In keeping with the Waldorf understanding that children aged seven to fourteen are in the feeling phase of life string instruments play an important role throughout their elementary and middle school years.
We provide Games classes as one piece of our movement curriculum. As one might expect in a Waldorf School, PE looks different from grade to grade, as the children are in different places developmentally. In the early grades, we play imaginative games which include running, jumping, skipping, and dancing and provide both exercise and good lessons in social interaction.
In Grade 5, Games focuses on the events of the Greek Pentathalon, in conjunction with their study of ancient Greece. This culminates in a regional event held in the spring, in which 5 or more Waldorf Schools from the Southeast region participate in a Greek Pentathalon together.
In 6-8th grades, we begin to develop the skills necessary to play a variety of sports strenuously and by the rules. Activities such as volleyball, basketball, baseball, and frisbee begin to develop physical strength and mastery of one’s body, as well as team work and good sportsmanship.
Students begin woodworking, promoting both their dexterity and skill. In addition, the rhythmically repeated movements and exercises using the hands help to strengthen the will and the capacity for logical thinking. Woodworking lessons have a practical purpose and awaken a social awareness for the work of other people. Respect for the source of material is the first stage of individual responsibility for the environment and resourcefulness.
Every grade school class takes on a yearly production to perform for the school community, giving the class teacher many opportunities to build on the social strength of the class. The play aids in developing skill and capacity in the students, strengthening the sense of interdependence in the class and highlighting the creativity of the class through drama.
Music, singing and movement are always incorporated into the production and offer more variety of roles. Rehearsals and performances give students an exhilarating opportunity to portray characters, build props, design sets, memorize lines, and collaborate together with a shared storytelling vision.
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Educating the whole child, in mind, body, and spirit,
for a life of continuous learning
and meaningful engagement with the world.
ASHEVILLE WALDORF SCHOOL
531 Haywood Road
Asheville, NC 28806
Main office: 828.575.2557