Welcome to the Willing Stage! This is a fun time! It is all about the imagination. Children in this stage live very much in their imaginations. Their imaginations ARE their reality so we must be very careful what we chose to present to them. The stories and activities that you chose for your lessons are going to change about every 3 months. These lessons are going to be seasonal. It helps the children to really connect with nature. So now let’s take a closer look at this Willing stage. It consists of 3 groups, Ages 0-3, Ages 3-5, Ages 6-7ish.
Let’s take a closer look at the Age 0-3 group. . This age is fully immersed in the Willing Stage. Like we have mentioned before, they are trying to will their bodies to move! They are working mostly on gross motor skills. This age group doesn’t need any formal Eurythmy instruction unless therapy is needed because of prematurity or disabilities. But there are things you can do that will prepare them for formal Eurythmy later. And these things are activities we probably already do with our little ones. You’ll want to spend at least 15-20 minutes with them. Movement games and finger plays are what we want to focus on for this age group. For example, movement games like “London Bridges,” “Ring Around the Rosies,” and “The Wheels on the Bus” are great for this group. Some examples of finger plays that you can do are “Where is Thumbkin,” “This Little Piggy,” and “The Itsy, Bitsy Spider.” As you can see, these are probably things you are doing with your children that are this age anyway. But now you can do it with the knowledge that it will prepare them for Eurythmy ahead!
Now let’s break down the Age 3-5 group. This group is still very simple, but we can add a little Eurythmy twist now! This group is working very hard to build fine motor skills. They long to jump, skip, and clap. These children live in their imagination. Their imaginations ARE their reality, so we must take care in choosing stories that will help build them up. Their lessons will be about 20 minutes. Children vary differently at this age, so you must learn to “read” them to know how long to make your lesson. At this age, we are telling stories and doing eurythmy gestures and motions. And while the children don’t know they are doing actual Eurythmy gestures, it is of no consequence. What is important is that they are moving and getting full range of motion with their movements! We can tell stories that help them live in their imaginations and help them “put on” these parts. I encourage you to use seasonal stories. The children thrive on these!
EXAMPLE: I tell a story I call, “Little Brown Brother” (from a book called Eurythmy for the Elementary Grades by Francine Adams.) The story starts with the children standing in a circle. I am the farmer. I come around and “plant” each child into the ground (they kneel on the floor, their heads down). I start reciting the poem and while doing so, touch the children on by one on the head (when I do, they sit up and start to “grow”). Then as the poem/story goes on, they come to a standing position. We come to a point in the story where everyone gets to describe what kind of flower they have turned in to. They say what kind of flower they are and act like that flower the best they can. Sometimes they stand tall with arms out like a bright sunflower. Sometimes they squat close to the ground like a small purple pansies. Its wherever their imaginations take them! Then at the end of the story, we sing a song about flowers or spring while clapping to beat and bring the lesson to an end. Fun and simple!
So let’s look at this last group, Age 6-7ish. This group is probably the most difficult of all the groups. At least in my experience. This is the first grade year. So sometime during this year, these children are going to go through a 6-year old change. Which is why the age is 6 to 7ish. Some children experience the change right after turning 6. Some children don’t experience the change until very close to 7! We must be watching for signs of maturity. Have they lost teeth? Can they reach their arm over the top of their head and touch their ear without bending their necks to reach? Can they make a sun gesture (arms over the head in an “O”) without their arms touching any part of their heads? If you answered yes to these questions, then they are ready for a more complicated Eurythmy Lesson and move into the Feeling Stage. But if you answered no to the questions above, then they fit in this group. The lessons are going to be roughly 30-40 minutes in length. Again, we must “read” the children to know how long these lessons should be. For the lessons, we can tell stories like the one from the previous age group, or we can start telling what is called, continual stories. Reg Down has written books that are perfect for this! Have you heard of Tip Toes Lightly? Not just a cute little story! It was written perfectly for Eurythmy! So what we will do is one chapter per lesson. Every lesson will start off the same and end the same. For example, Tip Toes is awakened every morning by the sun and goes to wake up Jeremy Mouse who has a morning routine he must go through before starting the day. He must comb his fur and brush his teeth, etc. And then they come home in the evening in the same manner every lesson. But the story in between will be different and offer some wonder and excitement for the children. Do big motions, jump over rivers, climb hills, weave through the trees of the forest (you can even designate some children as the trees)!
So as you can see, the Willing Stage is simple. I recommend the book Eurythmy for the Elementary Grades by Francine Adams. You can get it at waldorflibrary.org for free! It will help you understand these age groups (and up to Grade 8) much better. She even gives some examples of stories or activities you can use with your children as it relates to the curriculum. As you move forward, remember to relax and have fun! Eurythmy is not meant to be so serious. It is meant to be light and fun and even humorous at times! Good luck and HAVE FUN!
image from simplydaycare.com