Cuan na Gaillimhe - A Steiner Education
1st - 6th Class
We deliver the national curriculum using the Steiner methodology. For pupils from 1st to 6th classes, subjects are taught in “Main Lessons“. Main Lessons are taught in blocks of up to four weeks, allowing for depth, integration and focus. Artistic activities and movement are integrated into the day and form part of the teaching of each Curriculum Area of the Primary School Curriculum (English and Irish Language, Mathematics, Social Environmental and Scientific Education, etc). The use of drawing, painting, music, movement, poetry, modelling and drama is at the heart of the learning experience in all subjects. Skills such as drawing, painting and craftwork (e.g. knitting) are valued as highly as academic ones and are part of every subject. This gives every child an opportunity to shine and builds confidence and self-esteem.
Our aim is for all children to experience a personal connection to what they learn in school in order to nourish a love of learning that they will carry into their lives beyond primary school. We want to see the children develop into confident and enthusiastic readers, skilled and expressive writers, at ease when working with numbers and mathematical concepts. Our academic assessments show our methods are working. The Steiner education combines solid academic values with a sense of wonder for the world around us that truly speaks to the child's emerging personality, and equips him or her with the imagination, flexibility and inner strength to face a fast-changing world.
The narrative themes of the curriculum meet each developing phase of childhood and are woven through each year in such a way as to create an integrated whole between all the subjects. In 1st class, letters are discovered through the illustrations of the stories they hear, deepening their pictorial imagination and laying the foundation for a vivid approach to learning. The four elementary mathematical processes are introduced and reinforced through concrete activity, including movements such as skipping, jumping and rhythmic clapping, thus supporting and strengthening different ways of learning. Song and music punctuate the morning and the
first musical instrument of these years, the pentatonic flute, is begun. Heart, hands and head are all engaged, as the child finds their own increasingly expressive and creative voice.
Arts Rich Approach at Our School
Art at our school is not just a subject; it forms part of the entire educational ethos. Rudolph Steiner believed that we as humans have three aspects – intellectual, manual and artistic/creative, and that all three parts have to be advanced equally. While most schools place an emphasis on reading, writing and maths, we take the view that it’s equally important for every child to paint, sculpt, draw, sing, knit, and dance.
We believe the ability to create something beautiful is not limited to a few “artistic” children but is something that everyone is capable of. Placing the “artist” on a pedestal beyond the reach of “average” students only serves to discourage all but the most talented children from tapping into their artistic sides. So many of today’s environmental and social problems require innovative and creative solutions, and what better way to produce creative and independent thinkers than by encouraging them to express themselves artistically in their own individual way?
While the Steiner approach encourages children to develop a keen sense of the aesthetic, it also ensures they understand that you shouldn’t separate art from life and that every child’s inherent artistic ability can permeate every subject taught.
When children recite a poem, for example, they don’t only learn to appreciate the beauty of language, they also, almost by default, learn to strengthen their memory. The manual dexterity developed by learning crossstitch, may encourage more analytical and agile thinking when it comes to making sense of calculus.
It’s a proven fact that art engages many areas of the brain and can have far-reaching effects on children’s developing minds. The Burton Study looked at over 2 000 children and concluded that those who were
engaged in their school’s arts curriculum were far superior in creative thinking, problem solving, risk taking, self-expression, self-concept and cooperation than those who weren’t.
Art is a vitally important part of children’s holistic development, which is why it’s such an important part of the curriculum at our school. Our aim is to thoroughly engage the developing child as their capacity for thinking, creating and feeling unfolds.