Movement & sensory tools in Waldorf & Charlotte Mason homeschool
Children need to move all day long! They cannot be expected to sit or stand in one place for more than ten or so minutes (longer time can of course be expected as children grow older). But as for my seven year old, I will continue to keep our lessons short and engaging!
- The Waldorf method encourages using movement, art, and music in all subjects.
- Charlotte Mason encouraged short lessons and movement in the form of a subject called “Drill”.
Our journey into movement began long ago, when my parenting journey began! My son needs to move. He cannot be expected to “sit on the couch” or “sit in the chair” because it is a physical impossibility. I know that children need to move. I have known this and have tried to get my kids outside several times a day, in all weather conditions. Also, we extremely limit television so they are not sedentary for too long. (I wrote more about how to help my very hyper active child here.)
A trip and tour of a Waldorf school formulated a new way of thinking for me! This opportunity provided a model from which I could emulate. I have now begun a journey into how I can incorporate Waldorf-style movement into our homeschool days. Children need finger games, clapping games, jumping rope chants, beanbag tosses, and more. Throughout their days and their learning, movement will solidify their mental learning!
Even more so, my son has been to occupational therapy which has become a more scientific/solidified approach to the WHY movement is so important. Swinging, jumping, rolling <— all of these encourage your child’s sensory systems to develop!
Here are just a couple photos of his therapy.
- Balancing or cross movements on a blob
- Cross tossing bags or balls
- Concentration in a string maze
- Swing on indoor swing
- We’ve implemented basketball, swim, balancing on a backyard tree strap slackline
“And here we have the reason why children should learn dancing, riding, swimming, calisthenics, every form of activity which requires a training of the muscles, at an early age: the fact being, that muscles and joints have not merely to conform themselves to new uses, but to grow to a modified pattern; and this growth and adaptation take place with the greatest facility in early youth.”
— Charlotte Mason
What movement exercises have we incorporated into our homeschool routine?
- Morning songs and chants with hand and finger movements
- Spanish song
- Standing and singing our hymn and Latin chant
- Clapping game
- Acting out a Fairy Tale
- Jumping rope with chants
- Outdoor free play / recess
- Math memory work while tossing beanbags in the air or to each other
Charlotte Mason prescribed for “Drill” to be incorporated into the learning day – this is in her writings – and I think I shied away from implementing them because the resources she pointed to are a bit archaic (almost 100 years old). Does that mean we shouldn’t use them? Of course not! They are in the public domain! You can download for free from Simply Charlotte Mason and read it from your tablet or even print it, spiral bound at an office supply store or at home.
You can see how many times a week each is recommended, per day per age, on A Delectable Education Podcast and on more extensively on Charlotte Mason Poetry. Dawn Duran has written several eBooks on Classical Swedish Drill to learn more as well.
All of that free knowledge aside, I, for one, like to have a book in my hands. I have downloaded many free resources online, but sometimes I tend to gravitate towards the actual hold-in-your-hands item that I actually spent money on and purchased. So thus, I began searching for one book that would teach me how to incorporate more movement into my home!
And I found it! Games Children Play is a lovely book that I believe every home and classroom should own! All of the elements that Charlotte Mason emphasized in her Drill (with the exception of Solfa) are mentioned and expanded upon with approachable pictures and some have the musical notes included on a staff.
(We teach Solfa/Solfege — Do Re Mi — using Sing Solfa’s free curriculum.)
What do I love about this book?
- The introduction
- There is a section of the following age groups, focusing on the strengths and needs of particular ages:
- These activities and songs are easy for me to memorize and actually use in our day!
While the online resources are valuable, and there are Charlotte Mason purists who insist upon/prefer to continue using older, tried and true volumes that Ms. Mason either used or approved of herself, I do believe there is value in assessing and reassessing. Visiting the Waldorf school, and researching what many Waldorf teachers use and recommend, has helped our home learning immensely. It taught me that my son needs to constantly be moving and I need to engage him in that need! We will continue to use the following resources in our homeschool every day:
- Chants from Sarah at Bella Luna Toys: Morning Verses and 5 More Chants (Her videos are so helpful and warm – I copied and pasted these into a simple document that I printed out and can reference daily — you can easily do the same! We’ve put these in our Recitation Memory Binder.)
- De Colores Folk Songs: Spanish Songs
- Games Children Play
- Anna Banana: 101 Jump Rope Rhymes
- Joyful Movement (This is another book that I recently purchased and love, from the Christopherus Waldorf Homeschooling Curriculum)
Further resources that are needed for movement, fine and gross motor, and creative play:
- Play silks (Here are some inexpensive ones, or you could buy the gorgeous, higher quality Sarah’s Silks)
- Bean Bags
- Jumping ropes (Or you could knit one together with finger knitting!)
- Different sized balls
- Hand putty
- Zoom Ball
- Velcro ball game
- Koosh Ball & Paddle game
Whether we homeschool or outside school, whether they are “quiet” or “loud” — children need movement, and they need music! I pray this has inspired you to give your child opportunities to MOVE today!