Each day in our school is seen as an organic whole. Just as the unfolding of the child goes through different phases, so does their day go through a similar process. As well has having content, a unique feature of the Steiner curriculum is that it has a rhythmical pattern and balance to enhance learning. Rhythm is a strong component within the curriculum, particularly those of the seasons. This allows for periods of deep concentration, artistic expression and physical activity, all within the context of a typical school day.
The school day begins with a main lesson, which incorporates the academic focus of an area of study which occurs during the first 2 hours of the day, when the pupil’s mind is most receptive. Each subject is studied thematically over a 3-4 week period, allowing an in-depth focus whether the subject is English, History, Mathematics, Geography, Sciences or Humanities.
In addition to the Main Lesson, there are regular practice lessons in English, Mathematics, German & French. Practical Subject lessons include farming, building, gardening and there are also lessons in Eurythmy, Woodwork, Handwork, Painting and Religion. Music and Drama also play an important role in the life of our school and classes regular perform plays in the school’s 450-seated theatre.
The celebration of different festivals in the school year become highlights for the children, deepening their sense of purpose and place in the world, connecting humanity to the rhythms of Nature and the cosmos.
From Class 1 upwards, different subject lessons are introduced. Alongside core lessons in Maths, Languages and the Sciences, Games and Sport subject lessons include Gardening, Woodwork, Handwork, Painting, Eurythmy and Religion. These are sometimes taught by the class teacher and sometimes by specialist teachers and are introduced at an appropriate age to meet the developmental needs of the growing child.
The word Eurythmy comes from the Greek, “beautiful movement.” This special subject was given a place of great importance by Rudolf Steiner when it was introduced to the first Waldorf School in Stuttgart, Germany. Steiner said that this “renewal of dance” would act like levan in the bread – helping to lift and balance all the other subjects.
Essentially Eurythmy is a dance-like art-form, exploring the expression of music and sound, including speech to movement, corresponding specific movements to particular notes and sounds. It enhances co-ordination and balance and reinforces social connections as well as strengthening the ability to listen.
Today Eurythmy is a core subject taught from Kindergarten to Class 12 in most Waldorf schools throughout the world. Eurythmy is also practiced therapeutically and as a performing art.
Religion is a core subject of the Waldorf curriculum and is taught once a week from classes 1 to 12. The Religion lesson strives to strengthen feelings of wonder and devotion and to awaken a longing for what is beautiful and true.
This is done through a study of creation stories, the study of ancient cultures, biographies and conversation as each class finds security and meaning in the journey towards becoming truly human.
Whilst the Religion curriculum as given by Steiner is based on Christianity in general it is open to all respect and all world religions and faiths. What is more important in the Religion lessons is that children can see their own thoughts and feelings reflected in the common human experience.
In addition to the weekly Religion lessons, our school also offers a Sunday Children’s Service which is conducted by the Religion teachers/Service holders.
Woodwork is an important part of the curriculum at the RSSKL and the children learn how to use tools like chisels, rasp, saw, axes and sandpaper in a safe way.
Woodwork first starts at the beginning of Class 5, where pupils first go outside to find sticks and branches to whittle a windchime and little animals. This activates fantasy, skill and attention and the children work with great enthusiasm.
Further projects include a spoon, wooden bowls, boxes and stools in classes 6, 7 and 8. As the projects continue to get more challenging, the children have to hold their attention in order to go through a long working process; instead of an instant reward, some projects can take up almost a whole year. But then imagine holding your own hand-carved bowl in your hands – what could be more rewarding than that? It is an holistic approach to developing practical skills and for pupils to gain flexibility in mind, body and spirit.
During the Handwork lesson, pupils are taken on a wonderful journey of discovery. Using a variety of natural fibres and textures, with beautiful colours to stimulate their senses, they learn many new skills. The children make a pair of wooden knitting needles and learn to knit with them; they learn how to crochet with beautiful coloured cotton yarns, to sew embroidery stitches and cross-stitch with their own unique designs and felt with lovely soft sheep fleece.
Later on, after class four, they learn how to knit socks working in the round on five needles. They then learn a variety of tie-dyeing techniques and the craft of Batik. The fabric is then made into useful artefacts on a hand and electric sewing machine. Leatherwork then involves the students with a new medium and unfamiliar tools demanding greater dexterity and strength in the hands.
Handwork engages the whole child, their thinking, feeling and willing. Whilst they immerse themselves in these activities, spatial awareness and hand-eye co-ordination are developed and their dexterity and ability to concentrate and work with accurate measurement increases. The children thus gain in ability and confidence in many transferable life-skills which not only educate the hand and will, but also develop the thinking capacity of the growing child. Thus Handwork significantly contributes to a broader educational experience.
In gardening, pupils are welcomed to the largest classroom, the outdoor classroom! Already in Kindergarten children dig for potatoes and plant seeds as they watch them grow. In Class 3 they study Farming as part of their main lesson. It is at this age that children have their own little vegetable or flower where they make their own connection to the Earth, the plants and all the animals who live around them. Gardening brings a deeper awareness of the seasons of the year and the elements of Nature in a real and very practical context. Gardening is a lifetime experience which is thoroughly beneficial for their well-being and development.