Educating the Whole Child

Waldorf Education is a journey that educates the whole child. Math, sciences, music, languages, handwork, drama, singing, practical arts, fine arts and land stewardship are woven into the curriculum each and every day.

While some children may naturally excel or have a deep interest in any one of these topics, all children benefit deeply from the richness of our varied curriculum. A child who finishes school knowing how to knit a sock, care for animals, sing out loud, play an instrument, perform in a play, make candles, process food and make furniture from scratch, is likely to tackle challenges in their life with the capacity and confidence to accomplish their goals.

Hartsbrook's Rich Curriculum


Our math program supports students in developing skills and the confidence to apply these skills across a range of scientific and social settings.  Students have regular classes in mathematics to continue ongoing practice for skill development.  They also have more intense periods of math through main lessons in geometry.  Some aspects of the program, such as projective geometry, do not have a purely utilitarian goal, but serve to develop the students’ mental visualization and flexibility of thought.



Science at Hartsbrook centers on observation.  Students are asked to observe plant growth for a period of weeks, or gaze at the night sky, or carefully watch during a chemical reaction.  These experiences are timed in a way to support the young person’s psychological and emotional development. Reflecting on these experiences allows students to come to their own ideas and connect with the material in unique, personal ways.

Our teachers strive to present the phenomena first, so that students are free to have deeper experiences.  Students explore conventional ideas in science such as evolution through natural selection by looking at the history of science, observing and discussing the circumstances through which human ideas have changed over time.  Our hope is to empower young people to engage with the natural world and the powerful ideas from the history of human inquiry as participants and creators, rather than simply as recipients of pre-processed knowledge.

World Languages

Language studycontributes to brain development, capacities to problem solve and an early capacity to appreciate the many cultures and languages in our world. Language studies are a core part of our curriculum and students learn through song, imitation immersive speech and cultural exploration skits and group work.  Hartsbrook students learn Spanish and German beginning in first grade, and in middle school and high school  have the opportunity to delve more deeply and specialize in their choice of one. High school students have the opportunities to host international exchange students and to particiapte in family stay exchange programs in the region of their choice.



Music can be heard any time of day at The Hartsbrook School. In early childhood, teachers use songs to carry the rhythm of the day from one activity to the next, bring awareness to the changing seasons, and engage the children in health giving movements and imaginations. In elementary, children sing with their class teachers in moments of transition, preparation for festivals, and in support of main lesson studies. Elementary subject teachers also use song in a variety of ways. Grades one through five attend a music class twice per week where they work with a series of hand carved wooden flutes as well as other Waldorf specific instruments while also building music literacy skills and the ability to move and sing harmonically. In grade four, students begin either violin or cello class where they have the opportunity to lay the foundations for sound technique and beautiful tone production. In grade five, cellists and violinists come together in one ensemble. Orchestra begins in grade six with a combined sixth and seventh grade ensemble and continues in the upper grades with a combined eighth through twelfth grade string ensemble. Upper grade students also have the opportunity to sing in an a cappella choir, play in a jazz band, or join a music appreciation course. Opportunities to play together happen throughout the year at festivals, events, and performances.

Music awakens the deep inner life of a child and developing musical capacities is a highly worthy endeavor which has an array of lifelong benefits.

Practical Arts

Students learn a wide array of practical arts over the years. In elementary and middle school students sculpt clay, make brooms, carve mallets and fire pottery in pits. 8th graders make a long term project in wood such as a stool or canoe paddle. In high school, students work in many media including clay, metal, wood, and stone. All of this work is done with traditional hand tools.

Practical arts deepen students’ capacities for will and a strength of purpose. To watch a boisterous, perhaps distracted class arrive in the wood or clay shop, pick up their hand tools and settle in to begin to slowly shape their materials, is to see students practicing how to focus their will into the task at hand.


Agricultural Arts

Forty of Hartsbrook’s fifty two acres are biodynamic farmland. In addition to learning animal care and farming, students and campers practice many diverse agricultural arts over the years. In elementary and middle school students grind grain, make bread, make butter, tend bees, spin honey, preserve vegetables, save seeds, card wool, spin and weave.  In high school, many students become mentors for younger students.

Our Land Stewardship program deepens students’ sense of purpose and engenders respect for the land. Simply knowing how to make a meal from products you have grown brings a quiet awareness of our responsibility to take care of our personal health, and the health of the lands we have inherited.


Drama is an integral part of the Waldorf curriculum. Grades 1-8 perform a class play each year, bringing  an aspect of their curriculum to life.  All students participate and roles are chosen to develop gifts needing to be nurtured. Plays are often a watershed moment in the life of a class as students stretch to new capacities and teamwork thrives.

In addition to class plays, the High School develops an all school production each year. Handmade costumes and sets, student production and management of sound, music, and lights and amazing musical and dramatic performances highlight the many talents of our students.

The impressive confidence, articulation, imagination, creativity and joy exhibited by all students – not just those that may be deeply called o be – in Hartsbrook’s drama productions is a testament to how a Waldorf education nurtures the capacities of all students.



Handwork classes are an integral part of the curriculum through the grades. Finger knitting, learned at the knee of the kindergarten teacher, progresses to knitting, crocheting, cross stiching, hand sewing, embroidery and needle felting in elementary handwork classes. In the middle school children take on longer projects such as wet felting, doll making and machine sewing.  Many 8th grade classes gift lovingly made pajama bottoms to their 1st grade buddies.

Research has shown connections between fine motor skills and brain development. Eye tracking, mirror images, pattern development all support numeracy and the skills needed to support reading. Self reliance builds confidence and working with natural materials connects students to the world around them.

Fine Arts

Fine arts enrich our learning throughout the curriculum seeking to engage the developing child as his or her capacities for thinking, feeling and creating unfold. Kindergarten children are led in watercolor painting as an experience of color. Elementary students create their own lesson books for each subject they study. The illustration of letters in the early years progress to illustrations of history, detailed maps and geometric forms. Students have experience with crayon, pencil, ink, beeswax, clay and stone.

Lessons mirror developmental stages – a 9th graders tendency to polarize and defend absolutes plays out in explorations of blacks and whites, while a 10th grader begins to explore shades of color and gray. 11th and 12th graders explore the human face, their own and others, as their unique qualities and talents begin to truly coalesce.