There should be warning signs for parents on every child in America: “Warning! This is not a potted plant! This is a human being that needs sunshine, free play in nature and lots of movement throughout the entire lifespan! Warning!”
Too often our children today are treated like potted plants. Sterile, not moving, in a pot, watching only one view because the inherent nature of the human being to move is essentially ignored by our predominate educational system, our medical system, and our society at large.
Children of all ages, birth through twenty-one, need to MOVE. Children birth through age seven should be developing their will, their doing. Movement also is learning. I have read research estimates that 80 percent of the brain is devoted to taking in sensory information and deciding what to do with that information. Almost any long-time teacher will tell you that most children are kinesthetic learners.
We know from current research that school aged children need at least three to four hours a day of true rough and tumble outside play. Heavy work benefits ALL children and ALL adults. We are wired for it!
In a classroom setting, just having ten minute breaks to really move every two hours can completely increase learning. According to a 2006 study in the journal of Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, children with ADHD who take movement breaks for ten minutes every two hours show a 20 percent improvement in “on-task behavior.”
In Waldorf Education, we look at movement to be about a third of our learning time if possible. We play movement games for math, we walk our forms before we draw them, we have eurythmy and Bothmer gymnastics in the Waldorf School setting, we include folk dancing in the curriculum for certain grades, we have drama and gardening.
You CAN do this at home and it will not complicate your homeschool, but enhance it!
Simple ways to start:
- Walking in the morning
- Riding bikes
- Jumping on a trampoline (see how you feel about this; I know some chiropractors who feel this is not good for the spine)
- Ice skating
- Horseback riding
- Bouncing up and down on a very large ball
- Using a scooter board to go around cones
- Obstacle courses
- Being out in the field to roll down a hill
- Walking in the woods, balancing on logs
- “Zoo exercises” – see this page for details: http://www.movementforchildhood.com/zoorobics.pdf
- Copper rods – the eurythmist in our local school uses these in Grade Four and up, I have heard different eurythmists say different things about when to start their use. See the copper rod article listed on this index page: http://www.movementforchildhood.com/insights.htm
- Poems with gestures, movement, balance
- Circle games set to songs for small children – try “Movement Journeys and Circle Adventures”; see here for a quick mini- review: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/12/29/favorite-waldorf-resource-5-three-resources-to-help-you-get-more-movement-into-your-homeschool/
- Try singing, fingerplays and movement, lots of great suggestions in this resource – see a review of the Christopherus book “Joyful Movement” here: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/12/17/favorite-waldorf-resource-1-joyful-movement/
- Hauling things in a wheelbarrow
- If you are a homeschooling parent, do ask yourself at the end of the day, “How much of this subject matter did I translate into movement and doing?”
Finally, are you moving in your free time? Are you cleaning, gardening, working? Hiking and biking and swimming and skating? Or are you sitting down on your computer? Just sayin’.