Warldorf Steiner Olympic Games – a milestone in class 5.
Towards the end of the summer term, when a child is 10 or 11 years old, it is a tradition amongst Waldorf schools to hold an athletics event, that they call the Olympics, based very loosely on the original Olympic Games held in Ancient Greece. In class 4/5 curriculum, pupils study Ancient Greek and Ancient Civilisations, so by the end of the school year they are very familiar with Ancient Greece.
Waldorf schools consider children of 11 years, to be at the height of their strength and stamina, before the onset of puberty, and what better way to celebrate this time than this unique athletics event.
This year Mudita will be taking her class to take part in the Olympics held in the south coast of England at Micheal Hall Steiner school for the first time since lockdown. In the past up to 400 students have taken part over 3 days, from Steiner schools across the UK and abroad.
The class have begun training with morning runs and will start practicing a variety of Olympic sports, including javelin, discus, high and long jump and wrestling.
At the end of June they will make their way to the south coast involving some physical challenge in the journey, like walking from train stations. Some closer schools will walk, camping on the way. When they arrive they will be greeted by a number of parents who travel earlier to setup camp in the extensive grounds of Michael Hall. There are then two days of training before the actual event, where the children from the different schools are divided up into groups, representing Ancient Greek cities. Each city is led by an Archon, who is typically a class five teacher, and has a different ribbon colour. Ribbons are tied to a long pole that the Archon holds, so that the groups know where to assemble.
Nant-y-Cwm school is one of a number of small schools who take part and Mudita’s class will be meeting children from other schools, taking part in large scale games to capture the flag and storm the castle and just hanging out by the campfire after a long days training.
On the last day, parents and family arrive early (or camp the previous night) and set up the school banner. The ceremony begins with a drum beat as the children, in their city groups, walk barefoot into the field dressed in a white tunic, shorts and an embroidered belt the children make leading up to the event. One child from each city carries an Olympic torch which together light the main torch. Then the games begin with the marathon leading to the long jump, relay races, sprints, wrestling, javelin to name a few.
Throughout the games all children are encouraged to compete regardless of skill and ability. There are no winners or losers in the competitions, how you do is not noted, only the spirit you brought to the activity and that you took part. This creates a unique atmosphere throughout the site which as a parent I have found profound.
At the closing of the games the children then gather to receive a medal with some personal words from their Archon about what they brought to the games.
The Olympic Games are a huge milestone from which the children take away many happy memories as well as the parents and family who witness the event.
Class 4/5 will be attending the games at the end of June.