Working with 8 and 9 year olds as they 'cross the rubicon'
by Tom Towey, Games teacher
Having recently started to do some gymnastics with Classes 3 and 4, I felt inspired to share some experiences and ideas about the curriculum. I have been amazed by their enthusiasm and wholeheartedness.
We have tried forward rolls, wobbly plates, cartwheels, balancing on abeam and some vaults. The approach atthis age is always playful and imaginative. The apparatus is introduced in aplayful way and gradually adapted and evolved to meet different children, either to support or to challenge.
At around nine years old, the children go through a stage of development which is called ‘crossing the Rubicon’. It refers to a stage which means coming more on to and into the earth. The children come into themselves more strongly in a physical, earthly way. Our Waldorf curriculum meets this stage, especially in Class 3 with farming and outdoor main lessons and in Class 4 with local geography and walking the River Dart. It is like a mini birth of the ‘ego’, and as with any birth there are often teething issues like headaches or stomach aches. Steiner recommended that the children have no homework at this stage to tax their nervous systems, which are already working hard. They should not force a degree of physical exertion against resistance.
It is this understanding which informs our approach, and so the gymnastics is done with the consciousness that we would like the children to enter into their very own bodies in as balanced a way as possible. The senses are nourished, especially touch, movement and balance. It has been great to see their enthusiasm and non-judgemental attitude to one another.
I have also been doing gymnastics with Classes 2 and 5 with a different approach for these classes. Classes 6, 7 and 8 have been doing parcour and I hope to present this later in the term.