Movement

Gym & Games

The way in which each one of us inhabits our body is of great importance - we can express our talents and intentions better if we attain a focused presence. Physical education assists the development of the child’s sense of movement, spatial awareness, sense of balance and inner equilibrium, as well as the sense of bodily well-being, through fine and gross motor control. It is considered integral to the whole school curriculum.

The aim is to teach not only practical skills, but to cultivate social inclusion, spatial awareness, self-motivation and full participation in all activities, in an age-appropriate way. One of the principles of Gym and Games is that we view sport as primarily an adult activity, and play as a child’s activity. Play has been described many times by developmental psychologists as the 'work' of small children. It allows them to develop physical and social skills in a creative way.

Imaginative games with the 'rules' rising naturally out of the story-image allow many different skills to be worked on in manageable ways, so that by the time they come to formal sports they have the necessary skills and co-ordination in place.

Sport is highly structured with many abstract rules, and because of its stress on competition it is rarely the best means of learning the many skills required to play it well. Hence we find it better not to introduce formal sports too early. With the right preparation however, our students can really excel in sports, and even the less 'sporty' can feel included and enjoy the experience as well as learning to take pleasure in movement itself.

Method and content

Learning progresses from the healthy movements learnt through play, into the necessary skills that adolescents need for playing sports.  An imagination of a physical action occurs before the actual movement is carried out. Our teaching method therefore requires that the children are given age-appropriate pictures as an impulse to movement or activity.

We believe that competition is a vital educational tool but should not be the main driving force for teaching children games. This allows younger children to participate fully in lessons without the pressures of sport. Children can participate in inter-school competitions and we succeed particularly in basketball, volleyball and cross-country running. The school produces some excellent athletes, although this is not our primary aim.

Timetabled lessons are complemented by a range of appropriate games, activities, sports and after-school clubs.

Method and content

In Classes 1 and 2 Games are taught by the Class teacher, very much through story images. The Gymnastics curriculum begins in Class 3 with creative jungle gyms, whereby the equipment becomes, for example, vines over swamps, rocks behind waterfalls, hippopotamuses! The children are adventurers travelling carefully through the jungle. ‘Carrots and Rabbits’, ‘Witches and Logs’ and ‘Storm the Castle’ are some of the social, energetic, imaginative and playful games in which the children take part from Classes 3 to 6. Sports-style games begin in Class 7. A full range of competitive sports is taught from Class 8 onwards. These include:  archery, athletics, badminton, basketball, cricket, cross-country running, gymnastics, hockey, orienteering, rugby, softball, tennis, sailing and volleyball.

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Eurythmy

Eurythmy is an art of movement in which the performer expresses speech or music through specific gestures.  These movements arise from Rudolf Steiner’s deep understanding of our connection to language and music. Learning to speak, expressing our thoughts and feelings through language, and responding to music in myriad ways, are essential human experiences. The movements and gestures of Eurythmy arise out of these experiences and express in clear and objective gestures the characteristic qualities of language and music. The gestures reveal the essential quality of each sound of speech or tone or interval.

When the first Waldorf school was founded in 1919, Rudolf Steiner included Eurythmy as part of the core curriculum, believing this new art of movement to be an invaluable asset in the education of the child.  Eurythmy allows the growing person to express music or poetry not just with the voice but with his or her whole being.  This learning by heart to ‘sing’ a poem or a melody with one’s body right through to toes and fingertips has a powerful effect on the developing child. This ‘moving with meaning’ works deeply on us in a wholesome way.

Method and content

In the Early Years, children imitate naturally and follow the Eurythmy teacher acting out a fairy tale.  Moving in a large variety of ways, such as skipping princesses or stamping giants, the children strengthen their balance, agility, and co-ordination mastering their young bodies through this imaginative play.

In the Lower School years, there are many excellent exercises which help develop spatial awareness and also social awareness. Children develop a vocabulary of gestures and forms. They are further supported by the Eurythmy lesson taking its themes from the main lesson, such as fables in Class 2, or ballads in Class 7.

In the Upper School, students revisit all that has so far been learned more or less unconsciously, taking it to a deeper and more conscious level. A Class 10 lesson might seem more like English literature on occasion, when aspects of the style of a poem are considered before students are guided towards creating their own choreography for it.

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The Eurythmy curriculum concludes in Class 12 with a major production of a fairy tale or legend performed entirely in Eurythmy. This can last up to an hour, bringing together all the skills and elements the students have learned over the years.  With a professional standard of costume, lighting, live music and a lengthy rehearsal period, these performances are a worthy culmination of the students’ Eurythmy studies in the school.