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.”

 

 

Meditation with Gertrude Reif Hughes

grhMany of us are familiar with the practice of meditation from experience of its Eastern forms, such as those commonly used in yoga. Rudolf Steiner introduced a new form of meditation specifically for use in today’s world. He created verses and exercises to support a regular practice of inner contemplation, emphasizing the need to cultivate our inner resources of emotional stability and clear thinking.

In her book, ‘More Radiant Than The Sun,’ Gertrude Reif Hughes explores Steiner’s path of self development, sharing insights inspired by her own extensive experience. She describes how a healthy meditative practice can enable us to see things of a soul or spiritual nature, enhancing our own lives as well as the world around us.

Please join us at Meadowbrook on November 8 at 6:30 pm for a unique opportunity to explore Rudolf Steiner’s teachings on meditation. This is a wonderful opportunity to deepen your present practice, begin a new one or simply learn about a different way of working in the world.

Please share this link with anyone who may be interested in the topics, or about learning more about the work of Rudolf Steiner.

This event is open to the public. A $10 donation per person is suggested.

What your own biography wants to teach you

How have I come to be who I am? Does my life, and the relationships I form within it have lasting meaning? Each of us is born into a specific life situation, a set of seemingly random circumstances encompassing gender, inherited genetic and ethnic traits, a social grouping that may – or may not, help us to thrive. While the nature-nurture debate rages on we all know of instances, perhaps within our own families where similar life situations produce very different individuals leading very different lives. In her new book, Why on Earth: Biography and the Practice of Human Becoming, Signe Elkund Schaefer explores the idea that each of our lives expresses a uniqueness of spiritual intention within the unfolding of universal rhythms and possibilities. What mysteries are at work in the development of human consciousness, in the unfolding of history, in the evolution of the universe? Continue reading →

At Nine

I originally wrote this piece for Of Dragons and Angels. The children have pseudonyms because this is not their story; it is my story of being a parent. This the sixth year of my journey as a Meadowbrook parent and I am continually delighted by, and grateful for my fellow travelers. A heartfelt ‘Thank You ‘to all who share this path. Beth Riungu.

On opening day of 3rd grade with her teacher.

On a golden, play-filled, end of summer day my daughter turned nine. Packing the picnic things ready for home I became aware of her running at the edge of the park. A game of hide and seek I think, her lengthening shadow flitting between the trees. The still green leaves seem to hold their breath, reminded by early evening’s crimson tones that a change of season is at hand. I feel it too.

Parents at Waldorf schools hear much about the Nine Year Change; a distinct developmental phase characterized by the child’s more realistic or critical outlook as he begins to move away from the dreamy world of early childhood. Class teachers prepare us to recognize the child’s growing consciousness of his individuality; of being part of the family and the world yet separate from both. We are given notice of the unsettling new realities both we and our child will experience with this realization of Self and the ambivalent yearning for independence it may provoke.

Continue reading →