Play, Sports and Competition

Donna (513x640)Donna Mirza is trained in Spatial Dynamics and has been the movement teacher at Meadowbrook for 16 years. In this atricle she explains the basis of the Waldorf approach to physical education and introduces some useful reading materials. She and her children, both MWS graduates, are enthusiastically involved in a wide range of sporting activities.

Everything taught in a Waldorf School comes from the understanding of what is appropriate developmentally to support the child at each particular age. The Waldorf movement curriculum supports the healthy development of the growing child in the early years with cooperative play and non-competitive games. Through this work the child builds a strong foundation of physical skills including balance, spatial awareness, motor planning, coordination and rhythm. As the child reaches middle school, a healthy balance of play and competition is introduced. At this age the child is developing his understanding of what it means to challenge himself against another. With skills and confidence developed through years of playing cooperatively, the children are now poised to physically, socially and emotionally to take on the challenge of competition.

Working with the ideals of Waldorf Education, early grade school is a sacred time for the children to play in harmony with others, exploring how their bodies move. Introducing the young child too early into organized sports can have negative influences on the child’s emotional, social and physical well being. It is a distraction to the rhythm of family life and can negatively impact the culture of the classroom. How do you maneuver through the sports obsession culture and make healthy choices for your child and your family? Begin with the informative article in the Waldorf Education journal, Renewal Fall/Winter 2013; “Learning to Move in Space, Healthy Movement Education for Children”. The MWS library also has three new books about sports and competition with useful parenting ideas. Read more about them below:

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Beyond Winning – Smart Parenting in a Toxic Sports Environment by Kim John Payne, Luis Fernando Llosa and Scott Lancaster

“Every child’s life unfolds in its own unique way. Our role as parents is to nurture our children and guide them as they grow into strong, healthy, independent individuals. How then can we shield our children from today’s intoxicating youth sports culture, which sweeps us all into its swirling vortex and subjects our kids to too much, too soon? Caught up in a cultural frenzy, we clutter our children’s daily lives with too many sporting activities and though, often unwittingly, pressure our “child-athletes” to perform. As a result they grow up too quickly, and often the foundations of our family lives are fractured.”

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Warrior Girls - Protecting Our Daughters Against the Injury Epidemic in Women’s Sports by Michael Sokolove

Warrior Girls exposes the downside of the women’s sports revolution that has evolved since Title IX; an injury epidemic that is easily ignored because we worry that it will threaten our daughters’ hard won opportunities on the field. Well documented, opinionated and controversial, Warrior Girls shows that all girls can safeguard themselves on the field without sacrificing their hard-won right to be there.”

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No Contest – The Case Against Competition by Alfie Kohn

“Contrary to myths with which we have been raised, Kohn shows that competition is not an inevitable part of human nature. It does not motivate us to do our best (in fact, our workplaces and schools are in trouble because they value competitiveness instead of excellence). Rather than building character, competition sabotages self-esteem and ruins relationships. It even warps recreation by turning the playing field into a battlefield.”

 

 

Why Pre-School is Important

Joan Almon is the founding director of the U.S. Alliance for Childhood and an international consultant on early childhood education. She is also a former co-chair of the Waldorf Early Childhood Association of North America.

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Creativity, curiosity, play, and problem-solving are all intertwined in early childhood. Social negotiation is also frequently part of the mix. In this article Joan Almon explains how play-based education supports the healthy cognitive, social-emotional and physical development of children, preparing them for the 21st century workplace where creativity is highly valued. Click the link below for the full article.

Let Them Play by Joan Almon

Saint Nicholas Day in a Waldorf School

Saint Nicholas Day at Meadowbrook Waldorf School

shoes Saint Nicholas

The children in the lower grades were busy yesterday tidying their rooms and placing their shoes out neatly in anticipation for a visit from Saint Nicholas.  This morning those eager boys and girls found treasures of clementines and small shells in their shoes waiting for them, sometimes with a hint of glitter left behind from their secret visitor.

Who is Saint Nicholas?

Today the children celebrate Saint Nicholas Day.  Saint Nicholas was a bishop born in the 4th century. He was known for secret gift-giving, such as putting coins in the shoes of those who left them out for him, and thus became the model for Santa Claus, whose modern name comes from the Dutch Sinterklaas.  Saint Nicholas is the patron saint of sailors, merchants, archers, thieves, children, pawnbrokers.* Saint Nicholas day is celebrated throughout Europe and is honored by Waldorf schools and Waldorf inspired homes and homeschoolers as well.

Legends of Saint Nicholas

One of the most popular stories of St Nicholas tells of a poor man with three daughters. In those days a young woman’s father had to offer prospective husbands something of value—a dowry. The larger the dowry, the better the chance that a young woman would find a good husband. Without a dowry, a woman was unlikely to marry. This poor man’s daughters, without dowries, were therefore destined to be sold into slavery. Mysteriously, on three different occasions, a bag of gold appeared in their home-providing the needed dowries. The bags of gold, tossed through an open window, are said to have landed in stockings or shoes left before the fire to dry. This led to the custom of children hanging stockings or putting out shoes, eagerly awaiting gifts from Saint Nicholas. Sometimes the story is told with gold balls instead of bags of gold. That is why three gold balls, sometimes represented as oranges, are one of the symbols for St. Nicholas.**

Saint Nicholas Felted

Our German teacher shares this poem about Sankt Nikolaus translated into English.

Knecht Ruprecht – Theodor Storm

From out of the forest I now appear, to proclaim that Christmastide is here!
For at the top of every tree are golden lights for all to see;
and there from Heaven’s gate on high I saw our Christ-child in the sky.

And in among the darkened trees, a loud voice it was that called to me:
‘Knecht Ruprecht, old fellow’ it cried, ‘hurry now, make haste, don’t hide!
All the candles have now been lit – Heaven’s gate has opened wide!

Both hong and old should snow have rest away from cares and daily stress;
and when tomorrow to earth I fly “It’s Christmas again!” will be the cry.’

And then I said: ‘O Lord so dear. My journey’s end is now quite near; 
but to this town I’ve still to go, Where the children are good, I know.’

‘But have you then that great sack?’
‘I have’ I said, ‘it’s on my back.
For apples, almonds, fruit and nuts for God-fearing children are a must.’

‘And is that cane there by your side?’ 
The cane’s there too,’ I did reply;
but only for those, those naughty ones, who have it applied to their backsides.’
The Christ-child spoke: ‘Then that’s all right! My loyal servant, go with God this night!’

From out of the forest I now appear; To proclaim that Christmastide is here!
Now speak, what is there here to be had?
Are there good children, are there bad?

Sources:
*http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Nicholas
**http://www.stnicholascenter.org/pages/who-is-st-nicholas/

Free Story Hour for Toddlers and Preschool Children

Mommy and Me ClassMeadowbrook Waldorf School is happy to offer a free story hour one Saturday a month at 10 am. Our story hour is held in our preschool or Parent-Child Class room.  Our sunny and cheerful preschool classroom has many natural toys that invite the children into imaginative play. Snack and circle time will introduce you and your child to the gentle rhythms found in a Waldorf classroom.  Story time is comprised of simple verses and songs with lovingly handmade props to enhance the themes.  Story hour is ideal for toddlers, preschool age children, and their adult caregiver.

Our next story hour is
Saturday, November 16 at 10 am
Please register by sending an email to admissions@meadowbrookschool.com.