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Handwork and Practical Arts

Practical arts, handwork, and crafts are an integral part of the Waldorf curriculum.  Decades before brain research could confirm it, Rudolf Steiner recognized that brain function was founded on body function. Learning these skills in the early Grades leads to motor skills that later metamorphose into lively thinking and enhanced intellectual development.

Coordination, patience, perseverance, and imagination are developed through practical work. The creation of beautiful handmade objects, increasingly rare in a utilitarian society, also feeds the child’s sense of accomplishment and aesthetics, and the use and movement of hands and limbs offer an important counterpoint to intellectual pursuits.

1st Graders, both boys and girls, learn to knit scarves or small animal forms. 2nd-5th Graders crochet, cross-stitch, and knit with four needles. At the onset of adolescence in 6th Grade, each student creates and stitches a stuffed cloth doll or animal. 7th and 8th Graders knit sweaters and sew garments, by hand and machine. The practicality of handwork projects infuses the children’s everyday world with meaning and offers an opportunity for them to appreciate the uniqueness and beauty of the work of others.

The Grades curriculum also includes activities such as building and gardening, which give the children an understanding of how things come into being and a respect for the creations of others.

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