Valuable Group Experience: Eurythmy in Kindergartens
Iris Fischer works as a eurythmist in seven kindergarten groups around Mainz, as a healing eurythmist at the Waldorf School in Mainz, as well as in her own practice. Once a week, she visits the Waldorf kindergarten in Saulheim. “Some children very much look forward to eurythmy,” says educator Viola Sattelkau. “Most of them, however, simply go along with it. At this age, it is a lot about imitation. Some also struggle with it, even expressing that it is too tiring for them. We see this as a good sign because it means the children understand that it takes effort to really get into eurythmy.” In these cases, the teachers find individual solutions, such as shortening participation.
Immersion in fairy tales and stories
“Young children move along with me – whether it is inward or outwardly visible. They mimic everything straight away,” explains Iris Fischer. “That’s why it is important to create a trustful and imaginative atmosphere from the very beginning.” To help her do so, she uses the pair of dwarves Puck and Puckelinchen to tell the youngsters a story beforehand so they can immerse themselves in the narration. When the kindergarten was closed due to the coronavirus, the children had to do without eurythmy, but not the dwarves’ stories: Iris Fischer used the kindergarten mailing list to send them by email to the parents – much to the delight of the girls and boys. The kindergarten was also able to maintain the tradition of the kindergarten children putting on a small performance for their parents before moving up to primary school, despite the Covid-19 restrictions. In order to practice for it, the parents specially brought their children to the school once a week. “I see a lot of support from educators and parents,” says Iris Fischer. “The children feel this togetherness – and, of course, how lovingly we look at them.”
Finding a common rhythm with stomping and clapping
The focus of this kindergarten eurythmy is the group experience. Everyone stands in a circle; the individual child fades into the background. So they feel good in their bodies, it is quite tangible: The children stomp vigorously with their legs, clap their hands or stroke up and down their arms. Everything is accompanied by rhythmic verses and music, embedded in a seasonally appropriate story. “If the eurythmy experience is too abstract, it is not accessible to children at that age. The images have to be expressed strongly through the movement so they can turn inward,” says Iris Fischer. The rhythmically animated language is the entrance ticket. In some groups, there is also musical accompaniment. The voice is an important tool, as it can create a certain atmosphere. “Today, many children are overexcited and find it difficult to settle down. Some are also exhausted, so it is difficult for them to find their way into this interior world, even if it is quiet. Nevertheless, they experience the fantasy vividly, that is why the dwarves are so important. When I tell their story, all the children hang on my every word – that’s no different than it was fifty or a hundred years ago.”
Viola Sattelkau points out another valuable pedagogical aspect: “As an educator, it is nice to also play the role of observer. We participate in the eurythmy experience, but we fade into the background. We do not have many teaching staff; there is little external perception. Mrs Fischer’s view of the children can provide us with helpful suggestions, especially since she is also trained as a therapeutic eurythmist.”