A movement program that is solidly based on the developmental needs of children can have many school-wide benefits. These include...
In seating a student behind a desk, we as teachers and parents are anticipating that the child is physiologically ready, or soon will become ready, for the year’s tasks. But realistically, every child will struggle with some aspect of the academic environment: it might be a challenge to sit in balance, or to listen quietly, or to muster the fine motor skills for writing. Thus, we must remember that through movement, every child can be helped in some way to reach his or her full potential.
From early childhood through high school, experience has shown that classes of students who are provided with appropriate daily movement activities are able to move ahead more solidly. Benefits of these activities include:
Waldorf Education and Multiple Intelligences
Harvard professor Howard Gardner has written a number of best-selling and academically acclaimed books centered on his theory that intelligence is multidimensional. The concern that “America needs to be competitive in a global marketplace” and the desire for objective teacher evaluations continue to provoke an ever-increasing emphasis on language, science and math achievement. Results: computers in the nursery; non-reading kindergardeners labeled as ‘delayed’; and the elimination of ‘frill’ classes like music, art and phys ed.
Because most Waldorf parents and teachers understand the value of our schools’ approach to Main Lesson, the attached chart is offered as a way to help parents and teachers take a fresh look at the importance of things that happen after 10:30 – both for the way they round out the student experiences and for the support they give to the subjects that are defined as common core.
—> Printable poster-size chart
The teachers at Spring Garden Waldorf School recently used this chart as an illustration for a brilliant and detailed blog series discussing how each of Gardner’s intelligences is fostered in the Waldorf classroom. —> Take a look
A Model for an All-Grades Tumbling & Gymnastics Circus
At Aurora Waldorf School, we've had an annual all-school circus since 1995. Each May as we present this event, I'm filled with thanks: first and foremost, to Jaimen McMillan and Maureen Curran, who taught the Spacial Dynamics cycle that continues to inspire my teaching career; and secondly to a book titled “Stunts and Tumbling for Girls” written by Virginia Lee Horne in 1943. The circus model I've built up over the years is entirely the result of those two sources; there is almost nothing in it that is original from me. The annual circus is the finale for the year's learning, and many of the performed activities are anticipated grade-specific stunts or skills. —> READ MORE
Boys and Girls in Movement
Stereotypes and Archetypes - Balancing Gender Needs in Elementary School Movement
Although boys and girls have many developmental-movement needs in common, they also have important differences in the ways they use movement to structurally organize their perception of and contact with the world. These needs that should be addressed in our Waldorf classrooms, schoolyards and games classes. My goal in this article is to review perspectives on this vital topic, from a number of informative sources; to see how these seemingly disparate sources might be connected; and, I hope, to inspire further research and discussion at your school. —> READ PDF
The Art of Roughhousing
This wonderful book shows how rough-and-tumble play can nurture close connections, solve behavior problems, boost confidence, and more. —> BOOKS
OUT OF PRINT BOOKS
Child's Play 3
Wil van Haren and Rudolf Kischnick, England, 1994. A classic Waldorf games book, packed with activities and insights for children and teenagers. (Child's Play 1 and 2 is still available).
GNEW! Gnomey Football - a great game for first grade
Aurora Waldorf School teacher Josh Boyle recently contributed this game to our living museum of wonderful games. (To see why it’s called Gnomey Football, be sure to watch until about 30 seconds in!)
Instructions: Have class stand in a circle, legs very wide with feet touching neighbors’ on both sides. Students should be bent at waist with backs straight and parallel to the floor; arms dangling with hands ready to block. Ball is batted around, attempting to bat it out of the circle. When a ”goal” is scored, teacher tells the gnomes: knees together, elbows in, thumbs up, tongues out. Then he leads the chant (students should join in while keeping tongues out) – “A-tooty-tah, a-tooty-tah, a-tooty-tah-tah (repeat while gnomes twirl in the victory dance).
Announcing a Google Group for Waldorf movement, class and remedial teachers
—> Send in a contact form if you'd like to join, ; please indicate your school and teaching position.
Two great new (old) articles on development through play & movement
I recently came across these two chapters in a 1984 anthology titled Child's Play and Play Therapy, edited by Anthony D. Pellegrini. If you are searching for ways to answer the frequent questions about movement goals and delaying team sports, I think you will find these both quite helpful. The chart above summarizes these ideas. —> Click here for a pdf file of this chart.
Motor Development and Children's Play - contains powerful material about developing capacities before specialized skills. —> Read it!
The Young Child's Play and Social and Emotional Development - so often parents need encouragement to remember that ages birth to nine are an important window for development of right-brain strengths, and that emphasis during these years on left-brain specialization can narrow this window. —> Read it!
Cold & Spicy Buffalo Style Yogaball
Here's a rough and tumble game that can be played in grades 2 through 5, when the snow is soft enough and snowsuits provide padding. All you need is four cones to mark the two end zones, and a 24" yoga ball. After a kickoff, players can shove, roll, carry or throw the ball across the goal line. Usually a few players will self-assign as goalies. The rules are: no kicking after the kickoff, no neck or head grabs, and don't hurt anyone... very much! (Say that with a knowing smile on your face, and send anyone who's playing too rough to the "penalty box".)