by Kerstin Pintus, Victoria Klocek, & Andrea Jordan | Grades Faculty Members
Recently the first grade students have been making jump ropes by hand-twisting yarn into long ropes. They are so happy and proud about all the things they can do and create with their hands.
Jump ropes are accessible, portable, and versatile! Take them with you on trips or long car rides during the holidays. Jumping rope provides a multitude of benefits to support a healthy development in your child. It:
- can help improve your cognitive function because it involves learning new motor patterns, which improves the nervous system communication between your brain, wrists, and lower leg muscles. This, in turn, helps to improve your overall cognitive function.
- aids in the development of the left and right hemispheres of your brain, which further enhances spatial awareness, improves reading skills, increases memory, and makes you more mentally alert. Jumping on the balls of your feet requires your body and mind to make neural muscular adjustments to imbalances created from continuous jumping. As a result, jumping improves dynamic balance and coordination, reflexes, bone density, and muscular endurance.
- helps to develop coordination and integrate the upper and lower body to move together.
- improves cardiorespiratory, heart health, and stamina, as well as improves how efficiently you breathe.
- increases the elasticity and resiliency of lower-leg muscles, leading to a reduced risk of lower-leg injuries.
- improves bone health.
- helps you find your rhythm.
In addition to these physical benefits, combining physical motion with speech is a powerful learning tool. Here are some suggestions for other ways to use jump ropes:
- Lay the jump rope on the ground and hop over the rope. Can you do it on one foot? Can you do it on the other foot? Can you hop back and forth while reciting “Jack be nimble, Jack be quick” or another poem.
- Lay the jump rope on the ground and pretend it’s a balance beam, walking beside it VERY slowly, placing each foot perfectly heel-to-toe. Then, carefully lift (and hold!) a leg in the air and slowly place your foot down, heel first, then toe, directly in front of the first foot. Continue this way, as slowly as you can. The more slowly, the better!
- With shoes and socks off, can you lift the jump rope with your toes? See if you can move it forwards, backwards, to your left and to your right. Can you give it back to your hand, using only your toes?
- Have two adults hold the rope above the ground, starting a few inches above and gradually increase the height with each successful jump. Count each jump aloud.
- Counting aloud while rope jumping is always beneficial, especially if the child says one number for each jump. This can also be done with each step for the balance beam exercise above. Moving with one motion for each number builds one-to-one correspondence and is much more beneficial than counting as fast as you can! I expect the students to be strong by now in counting by 1s, 2s, 5s, and 10s. We have also extensively practiced skip counting by 3s, 4s, 6s, 9s, often whispering the in-between numbers, but I do not expect mastery of these yet! Please use the jump rope to playfully reinforce the 1s, 2s, 5s, and 10s.* Your first grader can simply count (or count together with you) while jumping or they can use a jump rope rhyme like this one to get started:
Bubble gum, bubble gum in a dish
How many pieces do you wish?
[Five, ten, fifteen, twenty, twenty-five…]*If counting by these numbers is difficult for your child, please do not worry! Keep practice playful and light, model counting things you see and an enjoyment of numbers, and trust that your child is on their own journey toward mastering these concepts. Start with 1s, then 2s, then 10s, then 5s. If this is easy for your child, instead of practicing more difficult skip counting straight away, see how high they can count accurately by these numbers. Can they start in a random place (“68, 70, 72, 74…”)? Can they count backwards by that number? Can they then recite what they have counted while not in motion?Enjoy exploring fun things to do with your jump rope! We hope that you and your child will enjoy this healthy and joyful activity for many years to come.
by Melanie Ingler | Communications Coordinator
Years ago, when Victoria entered the tunnel to Marin through the San Francisco fog and emerged to clear skies with the sun shining down onto the Waldorf School bumper sticker on the car ahead, she knew she just had to listen to the many signs she had been given that Waldorf Education was in her future. Some signs were more subtle than this but Waldorf had already been on her mind even long before meeting her husband who, as it turned out, was a Waldorf graduate.
As her thoughts turned to what she wanted to do in the future, she decided to leave her job in Marketing and Product Development and enroll in the Waldorf Teacher Training program at Steiner College. Afterwards, Victoria taught in the Early Childhood program at San Francisco Waldorf School, as well as a home-based Nursery program. She also began her study of Spacial Dynamics and was frequently known as the teacher who would get the children out and moving! As a kindergarten teacher, she found she was passionate about movement and how it prepared young children’s brains for their upcoming more traditional academic work when they entered the grades.
After taking some time off to start their family, Victoria began teaching at Berkeley Rose Waldorf School, just before the beginning of the pandemic that had all of us learning primarily from our homes for a while. Victoria and her family so enjoyed the time they had together during the lockdown that they realized they wanted a change: shorten her husband’s commute and the ability to spend more time together. As our luck would have it, WSP had an opening for a Movement Teacher, as well as a role for Admissions Office support. With her background and training in Movement, as well as Waldorf Early Childhood teaching, this clearly became the perfect fit.
Now entering her fourth month at WSP, Victoria is really enjoying her work with our students. She appreciates watching them learn and grow, and seeing their confidence in themselves increase as they know they can do anything. Already some of our students in are up on their stilts and unicycles this year, some for the first time!
In her free time, Victoria loves to dance with her family. They can be found exploring the area on foot, skates or bikes; or spending time time boogie boarding in the ocean. If you have any favorite spots to share, be sure to drop her an email!
Please join us in welcoming Victoria and the Klocek family to WSP this year.
An interview with Pierre Laurent on the new film #KidsonTech
by Kora Feder | WSP Writer
We all know how challenging it can be to limit our children (and honestly, ourselves) from overusing technology. #KidsOnTech, a new documentary film co-produced by WSP’s very own School Administrator Pierre Laurent, is a powerful exploration of the great experiment that is technology’s effect on our children’s brains. The film features international educators, neuroscientists, New York Times journalists, and parents, all diving into the science of how we can prepare children for today’s digital world.
Pierre’s interest in this topic wasn’t immediate. He didn’t grow up with computers, but taught himself coding at the local library and later became a Silicon Valley tech executive. Since he didn’t grow up with iPads in classrooms, he figured his children didn’t need that kind of tech either. “Initially I was like any other Waldorf parent, making a choice for my children,” he says.
But in 2011, a reporter contacted the school about doing a piece on the fact that while two thirds of parents at WSP work in tech, the school doesn’t use computers. Pierre realized there was something fascinating about that choice. That article, A Silicon Valley School That Doesn’t Compute, ended up on the front page of the New York Times, sparking mass curiosity and a press frenzy for years to come. “It was very very surprising for me, how far the article went and how many people read it, and the comments from parents,” Pierre recalls. “Many seemed to be torn. They didn’t want their children to be exposed too much, but at the same time they felt they had to do it. They were living in that tension.”
This onslaught of tension and concern from parents and journalists alike enticed Pierre to dig deeper, and a journalist suggested he make a documentary about the school. In collaboration with Emmy- and Sundance-nominated filmmaker Paul Zehrer, Pierre produced Preparing for Life, a short film that focuses on WSP’s story. But Pierre and Paul were interested in tackling the quandary of kids and tech on a grander scale, finding that the press was only telling a narrow version of a much deeper story. “If misusing or overusing screens can change human capacities, and then we do that in every child, then we are actually kind of changing humanity. Is that good or is that bad? It becomes dystopian,” Pierre muses of his and Paul’s early conversations. “We first compared it to climate change; you drive your car and you don’t really feel it, but then you put all the cars together and it has a real effect on the planet,” he says. “It became a very big topic that took us probably a year and a half of talking to start being able to grapple with.”
Ultimately, their musings led to years of gathering data, collecting interviews and insights from parents and experts from India, Germany, and beyond. “Initially we were really going to go all around the world, but a film like that always lacks funding, which is something I learned! […] We still did something pretty international that shows that the scope of these issues is not just about rich countries or poor countries or just Silicon Valley or anything like that; it’s worldwide and across many cultures.”
Indeed, the film is impressive in its scope, taking viewers not only to various cultures and countries, but both private and public schools in the Bay Area. “It’s not about telling everybody to join a Waldorf school,” Pierre points out. Although the film includes many Waldorf-inspired speakers and educators, it focuses more on the impact of screen time on a child’s relationship to the world, regardless of that child’s situation.
That tension that parents and journalists spoke of after the 2011 article is eerily present in the film, leaving viewers with a sense of urgency on the topic. Pierre hopes that urgency can inspire action instead of guilt. When it comes to teaching children to use technology deliberately, instead of without restraint, “parents and educators at large need to be re-empowered to make decisions and understand their role,” Pierre says. “We should not blame them, because it’s really hard. We just want them to know that they have that power.”
We hope you’ll watch and share the film, as we feel that its message couldn’t be more universal and necessary. Learn about watching or hosting a screening at kidsontech.film.