Announcing the fifth session:
Gym & Developmental Movement
June 23 to June 30, 2019 at Aurora Waldorf School (Buffalo NY area)
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.
The 230-page course binder is a rich resource that documents hundreds of games and whole-class remedial exercises. Many participants continue to refer to the binder on a weekly basis for many years.
A note from Jeff Tunkey, organizer and
lead teacher of this course
I invite you to join me for this week-long deepening of movement pedagogy. I think it will strengthen your repertoire, and your ability to communicate the vital importance of your movement work.
Since 1994, I have been teaching both Physical Education and Extra Lesson at Aurora Waldorf School. I’ve taught teacher groups through the Association for a Healing Education, the Heart Program in Toronto, and at other Waldorf and public schools. Additional background:
• Past Educational Support Team Coordinator, Faculty Chair and Board President
• Graduate of the Spacial Dynamics five-year Inservice Training
This session will be the last one I will offer
Teaching this course the past four times has been one of the personal highlights and joys of my teaching career. However, I've begun to phase into "more retired than not", and completing the organizing/teaching of this course one last time will be another step in the process.
—> Course Information
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:
The "three R's" are not equal:
Strengthening arithmetic capacities
Waldorf class teachers have exponentially more daily opportunities to take the pulse of each child’s language skill acquisition than is possible for math. From the morning greeting and choral verse to the final handshake, almost every hour in the classroom will provide many moments for formative assessment of grammar, vocabulary, reading and writing. But the number sense and its progress usually appear only during a fraction of the school day (and sometimes not every day).
This disparity of experience is probably even greater in most homes, because parents who regularly read to - and then with - their little children will easily form a general idea about progress. But especially in households or extended families where there is some skepticism about the Waldorf path to reading, daily story time might slide toward the dimension of analysis. Isn’t it true that, compared to arithmetic, there is much more parent awareness of and nervousness about reading in kindergarten and the younger grades?
In this article, I will try to present some ideas and suggestions for helping teachers (and parents) assess and support the foundational, pre-arithmetic skills that are essential to numeracy development in Kindergarten and the early grades.
—> Read article
Have You Heard About Waldorf Education?
by Jeff Tunkey
Or, more to the point, WHAT have you heard about Waldorf Education? My teaching friends and I have grinned or grimaced through so many depictions that are funny, off-base, mystifying, mortifying or exasperating that I want to try to ‘set the record straight’. Here are some of the top misconceptions you also may have heard about Waldorf schools and Steiner Education:
1. “It’s artistic” or “for artistic children.”
2. “It’s unstructured.”
3. “It’s for children with learning challenges.”
4. “It’s non-academic” (especially the perceived image of our kindergartens).
5. “They don’t start reading until third grade.”
6. “It’s way behind the times” because we’re still following the 1919 ideas of Rudolf Steiner.
And then, we have to deal with the 2015 season finale of The Simpsons television series, in which Homer rebels against Lisa’s desire to attend the fictional Springfield Waldorf School because “everyone at a Waldorf school has to wear a hat.”* Well… there definitely is at least... —> Read article
Education for Balance and Resilience
by Jeff Tunkey
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?
—> Read pdf A full-page size poster of this graphic is on page 4 of the linked article.
Two movies to inspire and rejuvenate!
These two movies are as good as it could possibly get in terms of rejuvenation and inspiration. They will each, in their own way, remind you why you're in teaching and help you remember the strengths you truly have. I've shown "Buck" to numerous teacher development workshops... and many of these teachers have shown it to their faculty meetings. —> Read my review
"To Be and To Have (Etre et Avoir)" is a chronicle which follows an academic year in the lives of twelve school kids, ages 4-10, who are taught every subject, from math to gym, by one single dedicated teacher, Georges Lopez.
Boys and Girls in Movement
Stereotypes and Archetypes - Balancing Gender Needs in Elementary School Movement, by Jeff Tunkey
I believe that boys and girls have different developmental movement needs, needs that should be addressed in our Waldorf classrooms, schoolyards and games classes; that while 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. 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 it