A large part of Waldorf Education includes an actual curriculum for games, that leads into sports in the middle school years. There is a wonderful book called, “Child’s Play 1 &2” by Wil van Haren and Rudolf Kischnick that goes through what games correspond developmentally with what ages, and I thought I would detail some of this for those of you planning your homeschooling year, or even just for parents who don’t remember many childhood games or what ages they played certain games!
I love this quote from page 114 of this book: True games are a source of health in which the child’s soul is repeatedly submerged, if he is not to miss our on the most valuable things. However, this is not the only requirement. In order to build up and play games and activities which are close to real life, it is important to have a thorough knowledge of the child’s essential core, on the one hand, and the moral value of the game relating to the particular stage of the child’s development, on the other. The metamorphoses in the child’s development sometimes require one thing, sometimes another. We should not lose sight of the child and his experiences of the world around him. In themselves, games are worthless if they are not played at the right time and with the appropriate spiritual attitude.
From about ages four to seven, (although even toddlers can play some variations of these games), the games should be circle and singing kinds of games, and could also include clapping and rhyming kinds of games.
From the ages of seven through fourteen, there is a period of “unparalled drama” the authors note as the child is changing and becoming an individual. There are polarities seen in development and in the course of development itself – a push and a pull, a movement and a countermovement. The games typified during these ages include tag for the ages of seven through ten, and games of throwing and catch from ages ten through fourteen.
If we look briefly by age:
At age seven we still see circle and singing games as important and often well-loved, but with a transition to new forms of play.
At age eight, words form the basis for question and answer kinds of games that show the opposing forces in life of good and bad,such as games involving a wolf and sheep or fox and cockerel.
At age nine, there is often an underlying tone of mockery in children of this age and the games reflect this observation the child performs in watching people and how they do things. “Thief and delivery”, where there are teams of thieves and catchers, is often a popular game seen at this age.
At ten years old, games include an element of rough and tumble play fighting.
At eleven years old, games often include catch and throwing, and tag games often hold an element of freeing himself or others. I am sure many of us remember hours of playing freeze tag or variations of freeze tag, and this was the age for that!
At twelve years old, games include skillfully catching and throwing, skillfully passing a ball, skillfully running and shooting a ball. A child realizes through games such as these that they have control of their limbs — their limbs which at age twelve often feel so heavy.
At age thirteen, games often include running around bases such as in softball , with movement into the adolescent years with such games as tennis and volleyball.
There are archetypal movements and truths these games hold for children of these ages, which this book goes into in detail. There are also, of course, many games divided by age, from which to choose. Homeschooling families may be disappointed since many require a larger group, but that could be a wonderful task to get together a number of children from your neighborhood to play.