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.”

 

 

Finding Quiet

Contributed by Sarah Wiberg, Parent-Child Class Teacher

Parent-Chid Class Table Quiet Crafting
Tea and crafting is part of the rhythm in the Parent-Child classroom. This time offers parents a creative activity and time to connect while the children play.

I am currently enrolled in the Birth to Three Training at Sophia’s Hearth, in Keene, NH. As I was reflecting on my week of training last month,  I began to see that this training is meeting me professionally and personally in such a deep way. I  have been called to grow in ways I did not expect.

Practicing Quietness

One of those opportunities for growth came in the form of practicing and embracing quietness. One of my teachers put into question my own practice of quiet. I had been so proud of all the things that I could juggle in my mind and still appear calm on the outside. I started to realize that I do not allow enough quiet moments to come into my day – moments that could really fill and restore me instead of constantly feeling frazzled.

“A quiet mind and calm environment is fertile ground for creative play and safe social experiences and interactions.”

During class, I am often able to find a place of quiet. The strong rhythm of the morning offers opportunities to follow what is known so well and I enjoy a calm, quiet mind.  The children can often find that peace in the day when they are surrounded by what is predictable. A quiet mind and calm environment is fertile ground for creative play and safe social experiences and interactions.

Modeling Quiet for our Children

Our children find this peace when we are able to find it for ourselves. Through our modeling, they learn to feel calm in their environment.  This might be the hardest to achieve for parents.  I will be the first to admit that there are many times that it is easier to be the teacher in a class than a parent at home.  At home it is easy to become distracted by the demands of life; dishes, laundry, ironing, making lunches for school, cleaning the living room, vacuuming the floor…(care to add a few more?)  And I did not even mention the work expectations, evening meetings, or different family commitments.  How is one ever able to find a quiet moment at home with the ever-running list of responsibilities and commitments?

During the season that seems to pull us in so many directions, I challenge you as I have challenged myself, to find a quiet moment each day.  This moment could be to meditate, reflect on something in nature, read a book, or just observe our children as they play.  In this moment we may also make time for finding gratitude for what we have in our lives.  This practice helps us to find the positive in each day when it is so easy to feel overwhelmed.  Our children will feel this shift and begin to reflect it in their own lives.

Here is one of my favorite verses.

Felted Art Quiet Winter NightQuiet I bear within me
I bear within myself
Forces to make me strong
Now will I be imbued
With their glowing warmth
Now will I fill myself
With my own will’s resolve
And I will feel the quiet
Pouring through all my being,
When by my steadfast striving
I become strong
To find myself within myself
The source of strength,
The strength of inner quiet.
 -Rudolf Steiner

Many blessings during this Holiday Season.

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.

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 →