We pack a lot of learning into a small school.
On the surface, the curriculum is much like that of a public elementary school. Children learn reading, mathematics, history, science, literature, and grammar. Volunteers from the church congregation and community enrich the school course offerings with art, music, chorus, physical education and drama, and occasional mini-courses in other special subjects, e.g. stamp collecting and Japanese culture.
But if you look more closely at our school, you will realize that the Pittsburgh New Church School is unique among schools.
The whole child includes a body, a mind and a spirit. Without question, the three are highly interconnected. Unlike most schools, we work with all three.
A healthy body is the foundation for the health of the higher parts of a child. We try to encourage healthy bodies through physical education classes, active games at recess, class activities such as circle games, crafts and large-scale art projects.
Working with children's minds is a more subtle challenge. The growth and development of the human mind has been an area of particular study for New Church educators. We've learned that a child's body grows and develops, so does his or her mind. We've learned that four-year olds typically love movement, sense experiences, singing, simple tales and lots of hugs from their parents. Eight-year-olds will have more ability to imagine. They'll appreciate the rich variety in skies, rocks, colors and peoples. They love stories, reading, and they begin to see deeper levels of meaning in characters and events. Twelve-year-olds love learning about the natural world, and they naturally begin to classify and put things in order. They begin to see geometry at work. Their social horizon broadens beyond the classroom into the local community. They get interested in legends, history, heroes and literature. This stage is a great time for teaching science, craftsmanship, skills such as mechanics, weaving and gardening.
All these stages are part of an orderly progression through which the natural mind is opened, and fi lled with knowledge. With the right values ordering this knowledge, it later forms the foundation for higher thinking and more spiritual awareness.
- Jenny Lindsay, Alumna and former teacher
A child's spirit and spiritual life is developed by learning stories from the Word, by imagining heaven and eternal life, and by early efforts to live by the Golden Rule, the Two Great Commandments and the Ten Commandments. We encourage this development by teaching stories from the Old and New Testaments to all ages, worshiping together as a school and in classrooms, and putting ideas about serving the neighbor and living your religion at the center of each curriculum. By choosing lessons that are appropriate for the various age groups, we gradually build up a sense of the continuous threads running through the Old and New Testaments, threads of truths like kindness, morality, modesty, usefulness, service, and obediance. This distinctly New Christian education is an important foundation for later life, when these truths will serve in times of spiritual struggle and doubt.