Students are immersed in a fully-integrated learning experience through our rich array of specialty classes that compliment 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.
At the Brooklyn Waldorf School, 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. Learning is neither competitive nor cursory, but provides an impressive experiential encounter with themes that echo and parallel the academic curriculum.
The curriculum within each specialty subject offers challenges and opportunities for growth appropriate to each age student.
We offer a developmentally based physical education program with the aims of developing confidence and presence in one’s own body, spatial awareness, coordination, strength, grace, and sportsmanship.
In the course of grades 1-8, the children become skilled at running, jumping, throwing, catching, skipping, and balancing. Traditional non-competitive circle and line games are themes of the early grades and the children learn how to play with each other rather than against each other.
Fifth grade students spend the year training for the Greek Pentathalon in connection with their studies of ancient cultures. In sixth grade traditional sports are introduced, and middle school students have the opportunity to compete with other local independent schools.
Music is a defining element in a Brooklyn Waldorf School education. Class teachers sing and play music throughout the day to inspire and support academic learning. Children sing songs from a variety of traditions and cultures, beginning with simple singing games in the early grades to polyphony in the upper grades choir. First grade students play the Choroi flute and add a string instrument in the third grade. In fifth grade, regular choral, and orchestra classes are added to the schedule and upper grades students study music theory and play together in the school orchestra.
Drawing is treated as a communicative language and incorporated into every academic class and several specialty classes, rather than existing as a separate subject or as a stand alone class. Drawing fluency is developed along with all other learning and can transcend, accentuate, compliment and demonstrate comprehension of any subject.
Watercolor painting is introduced alongside drawing and students develop a strong sense of color and learn to create form through the color. Students also learn to sculpt, first in beeswax and then in clay. By eighth grade students have a firm foundation in pencil, charcoal and pastel drawing, watercolor painting, and clay modeling, and they have come to perceive their surroundings in a more conscious way.
Unique to Waldorf schools, eurythmy is a movement art that engages the whole being of the student helping them to become more coordinated, more alert and more at ease with themselves.
Eurythmy students learn movements that are uniquely associated with the essential sounds of language. Performed as a class, eurythmy appears somewhat like folk dancing as students shift through fluid and complex sets of patterns and formations. Eurythmy require intense concentration, attention and rapid movement interpretation and response. Intricate and challenging exercises performed with batton-like copper rods increase dexterity, and help promote healthy posture.
Throughout the grades the students learn both Spanish and Mandarin. Our world language classes are taught by native speakers who have been trained in the immersive Waldorf method of learning.
The focus is, foremost, on the importance of creating an environment that fosters the student’s love of the language. Learning a foreign language is not only practical in today’s global society, but it strengthens students’ ability to listen, offers them flexibility in their thinking, and instills an appreciation for other cultures.
Classroom study is enriched by annual festivals and field trips relating to the Hispanic and Chinese cultures abroad and here in New York City.
Another unique Waldorf class is the handwork class. Students learn to make practical objects that unite both beauty and function using natural fibers and plant dyes.
In the practical arts, many skills develop simultaneously and reinforce other subjects as well. The concentration and persistence that this work demands is rewarded by the pride in making something from start to finish all by hand. Students develop an awareness of design principles and learn to give form to their creativity. Recent brain research has found that the interrelationship of the hand and eye allows more neurological pathways to function. One could say that teaching handwork and woodwork to the young is training ground for thinking.
First grade learns to knit and second grade to crochet. In third grade the students learn to spin and weave, and in fourth grade they learn complex cross stitch and embroidery. The level of complexity increases right up through eighth grade, when students learn to use a machine to design and make clothes.
In fourth grade the students also begin woodwork. They learn to use gouges, saws, chisels, rasps, and many other woodworking tools to sculpt and build with wood.