The effort to complement students' natural abilities begins at an early age and continues throughout their time at a Waldorf school. It is encouraged by the curriculum and supported by the fundamental understanding that a child's strength should not become their weakness because of one-sided development.
Understanding Waldorf Education
Just as Waldorf schools honor the natural development of the human being in determining the academic curriculum, the physical education program, "games," springs from this same understanding. In a culture where organized team sports hold such high status, children can come to think of movement only in those terms. The Waldorf games curriculum cultivates basic coordination and movement skills in children that will help them if and when they decide to play organized sports. Above all, the approach to games and movement at the Waldorf School of Orange County is dynamic—growing out of a belief that spatial awareness and intelligence as well as a joy of physical movement are essential components of living a full and balanced life. In their own journey through the grades, students will explore movement activities ranging from imaginative or strategic games to tackling challenging obstacle courses and finally to competitive games. This multifaceted program provides the opportunity for children to truly play as they develop their skills. The games program teaches the students to play with each other before they play against each other, to acknowledge each other, to play safely, and to gain an appreciation for all kinds of movement. The games program enables students to move fully and enter into a more healthy relationship with the world and its requirements.
In the early years, healthy movement is fully integrated into the kindergarten day through circle games, imaginative play, time in nature and purposeful work.
In grades 1 through 4, physical education is taught through various games to help develop spacial awareness. Physical activity, incorporating both gross and fine motor activity, is emphasized through games using imagery, story, rhythm and imitation.
In grade 5, there is a focus on the nobility of sport, on the beauty and form of physical movement. This distinctly mirrors the academic curricular emphasis upon ancient Greece in this year and, in the spring, the fifth graders participate in our pentathlon of Greek Games (javelin, discus, long-jump, wrestling and running), meeting with other Waldorf schools from Southern California and the Southwest.
Reflecting the curriculum of grade 6, students participate in Medieval Games, again meeting with other Waldorf schools from the region.
In grades 7 and 8 more conventional sports are introduced into the physical education curriculum and track-and-field meets are held with other area Waldorf schools. Now the children have a real respect for rules and understand how a team works together. At the same time, they are developing their own self-discipline and competitive nature. In these years, students also begin to consciously work toward developing a balance in their lives that incorporates a healthy level of fitness. Students chart their own progress through a teacher-guided program in which they keep track of various dynamic exercises and running. Students at this age aspire to a finer exactness, technique, timing and spirit of the law, as they also become more aware of the world. It is this holistic development of an understanding of, confidence in, and utilization of the physical self that the Waldorf games curriculum beautifully honors and hones as a means of preparing children to become active, strong, energetic and aware in all dimensions of their futures.