Helping children with learning difficulties through movement

All human inquiry must proceed from wonder! -Rudolf Steiner

Learning through Movement is based on the Extra Lesson™developed bextra-lesson-book_4237887_origy Waldorf educator Audrey McAllen of the UK.  It is a program of movement, drawing, and painting exercises for children with learning and/or behavioral challenges.

Childhood has changed in the past decades as a result of the accelerated pace of life and the demands on family life.  Behavior problems and “learning difficulties” are becoming the norm today.  The Extra Lesson™ addresses these problems.  It is based on an understanding of the first seven years of life and how the development of the physical body becomes the foundation for the faculty to learn.
It is now recognized, through the findings of neuroscientists and occupational and physical therapists that the physical body, with its well-balanced sense of movement, equilibrium and sense of life (well being), is the foundation on which the faculty to learn is based. Out of imitative actions the child develops skillfulness that goes right into the innermost parts of the physical body. This time in the child’s life needs to be protected. It is the solid ground on which further development is placed. Learning possibilities are hampered when higher levels of the brain are used to maintain movement and balance that has not been well integrated into the body. Energies, used “intellectually” before the body is ready, draw on life forces. This misplaced use of forces has far reaching effects for the future of an individual. Many mid-life crises are the result of early childhood stress. The situation has become so accelerated that today the effects are reaching into the middle school and teenage years when our children ought to be full of energy and enthusiasm for life and learning. Unfinished stages of development from the first seven years of life do not naturally correct themselves. Thus the Extra Lesson activities benefit anyone willing to practice them.

In sending a child to school, teachers and parents are anticipating that the child is physiologically ready, or soon will become ready for the year’s tasks.  But realistically, every child will struggle with some aspect of the academic environment.  It might be a challenge to sit in balance, to listen quietly or to muster the fine motor skills for writing.  Thus, we must remember that through movement, every child can be helped in some way to reach his or her full potential.

All that we do with conscious devotion is natural medicine. Anne Clare DiGiovanni Carignan

The wise and the wisdom-seekers do not label or judge (i.e., good or bad).  They question, observe and note.  They do not react.  They consider, relate and integrate and question again.  Wisdom is not an answer, it a process of deepening questions.  -Lynn Jericho  


Becky Stemper, B.A., B.S., M.Sc., Certified Waldorf and Educational Support Teacher, Rudolf Steiner College, Fair Oaks, CA.

phone: 713-825-0025 or e-mail:



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