One of the most unique elements of a Waldorf education is a movement exercise called Eurythmy, also referred to as visible speech. All students from kindergarten through eighth grade take at least one Eurythmy lesson per week.
“We describe it as language and mathematics in movement,” said Denver Waldorf School Administrative Director Kelly Church. “It’s beautiful to watch. It brings a physical perspective to language and uses movement to build an understanding of mathematical shapes.”
The Denver Waldorf School website elaborates on Church’s points:
“Since Eurythmy incorporates movement skills, spatial and social awareness (together with the capacity to listen and relate objective movement to subjective experience) it has the capacity to gradually lead the student to awareness of language, poetry, musical laws and musical expression in finely tuned artistic expression.
The challenges posed by the need to take control of oneself when participating in expressing the elements of music and the spoken word are, in themselves, educational – even at times therapeutic. The insights gained during the activity of exploring the objective nature of vowel and consonant sounds, rhythms, rhyme forms, etc, and when discovering the laws and the freedoms of musical expression, all have a lasting, beneficial effect upon the students…”
Waldorf’s commitment to the body as an integral part of the mind’s and heart’s education goes beyond Eurythmy. Younger students participate in a games class “where we learn to work together. Then, starting in fourth grade, there is a more traditional physical education class, where kids play games like kickball.
There’s also an emphasis on what Waldorf founder Rudolf Steiner called “handwork.” Young children learn crocheting, knitting, and weaving, and beginning fifth grade, all students take woodworking.
Woodworking teacher Michael Baker said creating something as basic as a wooden cooking spoon takes will and determination, especially for those not naturally inclined to it.
“There is no finish line,” he said. “It will take some students much longer to complete a project than others. I’m looking for your best work, not the most work you can produce.”