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:
Remedial Programs – Practical and Ethical Considerations
The basis for a school-wide, all-students approach to learning foundations
by Jeff Tunkey and Amanda Boyler
The purpose of this article is to describe—and advocate for—a comprehensive spectrum of whole-class programs and individual support services. To begin, let us look at two practical aspects of Waldorf education that by their nature will lead us to focus on related ethical considerations; by keeping these two issues in focus, we can gain additional strengths for our Michaelic educational journey.
First, our academic paths are in some ways “slower” and less test-bound than is common today. For writing and reading, we take the stance that parents can be patient, and not fret, if their student hasn’t begun book reading in grade one, or two, or even three. For arithmetic, we are supposed to be working, first, to have the student “at home in the house of numbers” before emphasizing skill-and-drill learning.
Therefore, we believe, Waldorf schools have a heightened ethical responsibility to observe carefully each child’s developmental foundations and capacities. Yes, it is right to provide daily learning challenges yet still leave early-grades students free to awaken to intellectual tasks at a harmonious pace. However, of course it would not be ethically upright for a school or teacher to wait until third grade (or later) to find out that a student actually lacks the foundations for the light to go on, nor for a school to wait to begin filling in the developmental and assessment blanks until there is a crisis with a parent or parents.
A second set of practical considerations may sometimes lead parents and schools to meet each other at an intersection of weaknesses. Parents who begin investigating a switch to Waldorf education when their child is in grade two or above, are often seeking an answer to a question that in some regards they wish to avoid bringing into focus: their child is struggling or even suffering in a current school, and they are seeking relief — but not (for instance) a learning-disability label. And, very often, Waldorf schools struggle with enrollment and financial needs that leave them open to accepting a broad range of student and family profiles. The ethical consideration is...
—> Read pdf
Education for Balance and Resilience
Why do Waldorf Schools devote so much time (and salary lines!) to specialty subjects like Eurythmy, languages, handwork, woodwork, gardening, form drawing, painting, music and games? On top of that, why is the first twenty minutes or so of the daily main lesson devoted to movement and singing activities that seem sort of non-academic… and then why does the noontime usually include up to an hour for lunch and outdoor play? Let’s put a pencil to this question: a typical school week will comprise 32 to 35 hours in school; then subtract a typical 12 hours for specialty classes and 5 hours for lunch/recess. Answer: about half the school week is spent on other than... —> Read pdf
A full-page size poster of the above graphic is on page 4 of the linked article.
Dutch Second Grade Assessment Booklet
In the 1980's, the Advisory Service to the Waldorf Schools of Holland compiled a Second Grade Development Observation and Assessment manual containing background information, a guide to activities, and a scoring sheet. As this valuable booklet is now out of print, I have added a pdf file to the resources section.
—> Read pdf
Making a paper "sailboat"
This video shows the paper folding instructions for a whole-class remedial activity known as "Sailboat Race." It provides fine motor development (the folding part); training of executive function (waiting to be told what the construction will be); an aid for breathing (you'll see!); and myelination of the brain.
5th Grade Olympiad Information Packet
Aurora Waldorf hosts the regional Waldorf pentathlon for chools in western New York and southern Ontario. Here is a sample of the information packet we send out each year; it includes notes on competition and judging, odes, tunic designs, registration forms, etc.
—> Read more
Educational Support forms
One of the challenges faced by Educational Support Teams, and remedial teachers in general, is maintaining an informative and objective record of observations, recommendations, permissions and goals. The files provided here show the progression of communication used at Aurora Waldorf; they are offered as just one possible example of ways to build and strengthen communications within the faculty, and between the school and parents of students needing support. At AWS, this progression of forms is stored in a separate EST file cabinet, not in the main student records.
—> Read more
Online Forum for Waldorf Teachers
The Waldorf Movement Forum is an online place to share questions and answers, and build bridges between Waldorf movement, class and remedial teachers. —> Take a look
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 “Thinker” Pyramid
Here’s a nice and unusual acrobatic stunt I got from the Ithaca Waldorf circus. The bottom base gets on hands and knees. Others, from heaviest to lightest at top, assume the Thinker statue posture.
July 6 to 10, 2015 – 8:15 to 5:45
Meeting the Needs of Students in the 21st Century
Five-day course at Sound Circle Center,
in Seattle, Washington
Being a Waldorf teacher in the 21st century is not an easy task: there are so many challenges and so many questions! This course provides a rich opportunity to enrich and enliven your teaching, starting with the insights of Rudolf Steiner a century ago and linking these to more recent research and methods.
In the sessions from 10:45 to 5:45, with Jeff Tunkey, you will examine the foundations of healthy development that occur through movement, as well as through drawing and painting exercises from The Extra Lesson.
Participants will begin each day singing together for a half hour, to mindfully tune their bodies, warm their hearts, and refresh our minds as a preparation for the day.
From 8:50 to 10:15, following our singing, lectures and discussion of the Philosophy of Freedom - Rudolf Steiner’s seminal work on becoming free, creative thinkers - will strengthen and nourish one’s capacity to make truly free choices.
—> Daily schedule for movement portion, and topics
—> Sound Circle website
Announcing the third session,
Gym & Developmental
Movement Intensive Week
June/July 2016 at Aurora Waldorf School (Buffalo NY area)
After two successful sessions—in summer 2013 and 2014—we will be taking a break in 2015, and then coming back again in late June/early July 2016. If you would like to be on the email list for notifications about this, please use the Contact Page.
The learning goal of this course is to enrich and enliven teaching approaches, starting with the insights of Rudolf Steiner a century ago and then linking these to more recent research and methods. The emphasis will be on activities for grades 1 to 4, but we will also experience how these transform for older classes. We will examine the foundations of healthy development that occur through movement, and experience how these foundations can be joyfully built through ‘old time’ gym, schoolyard and backyard games once played by children all over the world. Thousands of such activities are to be found in books for gym teachers and recreation directors published between 1910 and 1950.
Each day will include five hours of movement and two hours of supporting pedagogical theory. Sessions will include techniques for identifying needs, planning lessons around individual or class problems, sensory integration, addressing specific academic/developmental goals. Following is an outline of the course content.
Games & Movement Categories:
Rough and Tumble Play… Wrestling Games… Development of Throwing & Catching…
Active/Exercise… Danger/Pursuit… Circle/Musical/Clapping… Party/Quiet/Blindfold… Enrichment Activities and Remedial Sequences…
A Lower-Grades Model for
the Waldorf Circus:
Low- or No-Spotting Gymnastics Skills… Acrobatics… Zoo Exercises… Mat Agilities… Circus Skills… Apparatus & obstacle course… Tumbling Games
Workup Games for Sports
Baseball variations, Tennis, Volleyball, Aussie rules football ...and more
Pedagogical Lectures and Seminars
• A system of movement categories
• Fourfold human being; Twelve senses
• Hope, Love and Faith: applying Rudolf Steiner’s Pedagogical Law
• Postural control in the light of Anthroposophy
• Sixteen keys to developmental movement needs; Learning challenges & mainstream labels
• Developing/promoting a movement program - and how to communicate your goals
Sidebar topics: Competition; Teasing; the Olympics model; Comparative movement needs of boys and girls
Remedial & Artistic Activities
Including shaded drawing and painting handwriting