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    Educational Philosophy, Home Education

    Swedish Drill How-To Videos? Oh Yes!

    July 13, 2016 by Dawn Duran

    As I learn more about Swedish Drill I am convinced that Charlotte Mason advocated for its use in PNEU schools not merely because it was the most popular and prevalent form of physical education of its day but because it dovetailed so beautifully with her own philosophy of education. It fosters important habits of observation, attention and perfect execution, which are frequently referenced throughout her volumes. Students must observe the instructor as he/she demonstrates the movement. They must pay close attention to the verbal instructions given to know which movement they are expected to demonstrate as well as to indicate when to do so. Finally, they must perfectly execute each movement in the official routine in order to obtain maximal benefit from it.

    Get started on Swedish Drill by using these videos designed for beginners using a script created to reinforce the fundamental positions.

    In my first of this series of posts I provided a brief history of Swedish Drill, and in my second post I outlined the principles of Drill and the classes of movements from which a drill routine is assembled. I also reviewed the fundamental positions that must be mastered prior to moving on. In this post I want to address how we are to proceed with implementing drill in our homes.

    I recommend that you first implement a basic unofficial drill using a script that I created to reinforce the fundamental positions that are the basis of the true drill movements. Below you will find a video of my children performing this routine as well as a script for implementing the routine in your home (or school) once the children know all the positions well.

    Movements and positions to teach before attempting this drill
    (including page reference in The Swedish Drill Teacher):

    • Attention (regular standing position – no toe turn out, as described in the manual on page 7)
    • Half-Kneeling (page 8)
    • Tall Kneeling/Kneel Standing (page 8)
    • Back Lying (supine) (page 8)
    • Stomach Lying (prone) (page 8)
    • At Ease

    Script for implementing Drill:

    Half kneel , right foot forward – place.
    Tall kneel –place.
    Stomach Lying – place.
    Back lying – place.
    Long sitting – place.
    Half kneel, left foot forward – place.
    At ease.”

    Continue to practice this routine for several months during each Swedish Drill session until it becomes second nature. In addition, you will be instructing your children in exercises to incorporate into this routine over time. A true drill routine contains at least one exercise from every category (“class”) of movement. As a reminder, the classes of movements, as presented in my last post, are:

    1. Introductory Movements
    2. Arch Flexions and Extensions
    3. Heave Movements
    4. Balance Movements
    5. Dorsal Movements
    6. Abdominal Movements
    7. Lateral Trunk Movements
    8. Breathing (cool-down)

    Begin each Drill session with the unofficial routine and then review any previously taught exercises before moving on to new ones. Depending on the complexity of the movement you will only educate your child in the performance of 2-3 new exercises each session. Children should be able to perfectly execute each individual exercise without need for visual prompting before you include that exercise in an actual drill routine. This could take as little as practicing the movement once or twice or as much as several weeks of practice depending on your child’s abilities. The time for instruction and correction is while you are teaching them each new movement: by the time you conduct an actual drill routine incorporating that particular exercise no further instruction should be necessary.

    Now let’s talk about a few movements and positions that you can teach your children to perform to include in an official routine. Introductory movements (ie those that provide a warm-up for what is to come) include Head Turning, Wing Standing, and Arms Across Bend. Your child should be instructed not to demonstrate the movement until he hears the cue indicating that he should do so. In many exercises this will be the word “place” but there is no one word to prompt every movement. This makes paying close attention all the more important for your child.

    In Head Turning the key is that your child’s head should be the only body part moving. Sounds simple, right? Not for everyone. Many people couple head movements with movements of the trunk, which appears to be shoulder and/or pelvic rotation. Be sure the shoulder and pelvis/hips remain “quiet” and still while the head swivels on the neck to complete the movement shown below.

    Instructions for this movement are as follows:

    “Head to the left – turn. Head to the right – turn. [Repeat 5-10 times each direction then:] Head forward – turn.”
    In this exercise, “turn” is the cue to perform the action.

    Wing Standing refers to the position of hands on hips. This position is necessary for several movements incorporated into drill routines.

    Instructions for this movement are as follows:

    “Hips – firm! Attention.”
    In this exercise, “firm” is the cue to perform the action of hands on hips while “attention” is the prompt to return to the starting position.

    Arms Across Bend is an introductory exercise that activates the rotator cuff, scapular and shoulder musculature while promoting coordination.

    Instructions for this movement are as follows:

    “Attention! Arms across – bend! 1,2… “ [Repeat up to 10 times]
    In this exercise, “bend” is the cue to perform the action and the 1,2 count indicates the pace with 1 being the upward and 2 being the downward portion of the movement.

    Heel Raising is a movement that falls in the category of Balance. This exercise incorporates an Introductory position (Wing Standing), which demonstrates the progressive nature of Swedish Drill in that positions and exercises build upon each other. In this exercise you want your child to lift as straight up and down with as little forward trunk movement as possible. Some is necessary, of course. Just be sure it isn’t exaggerated, as this demonstrates a shift of the center of gravity to overcome muscle weakness. The child should attempt to keep their weight evenly distributed on the entire front part of the foot as they lift and lower; ie, they should not place the majority of their weight along the outer or inner edges of their foot. Watch to see what their heel is doing. The bottom of the heel shouldn’t tilt in or out excessively during the lifting or lowering movement.

    Instructions for this movement are as follows:

    “Hips – firm! Heels – raise. Lower. Heels – raise. Lower.” [Repeat up to 15 times]
    In this exercise, “raise” is the cue to perform the action while “lower” is the prompt to return to the starting position.

    Neck Rest is an exercise from the Shoulder Blade class and is valuable for activating your rotator cuff and scapular stabilizing muscles when performed properly. This is critical for all persons yet sadly undeveloped in most. Having strength in these muscle groups can prevent us from developing overuse injuries related to sedentary activities such as excessive writing and keyboarding as well as more active endeavors such as sports that involved throwing and other vigorous movements of the arms – overhead or otherwise.

    Instructions for this movement are as follows:

    “Neck – rest. Attention.” (Repeat 5-10 times)
    In this exercise, “rest” is the cue to perform the action while “attention” is the prompt to return to the starting position.

    Next time we will review more components of a drill routine. Until then, have fun practicing what I have included in this post.  If you would prefer the Swedish Drill information found in past and future posts in one easy to read place? My eBook Swedish Drill Revisited is 50+ pages of Swedish Drill information, a complete open-and-go curriculum that will assist you in instructing your children two complete Swedish Drill routines. It’s entirely self-contained and has everything you need to make Swedish Drill happen consistently in your homeschool or co-op. Click here to read more or click here to purchase.

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  • Reply Courtney September 7, 2018 at 7:54 pm

    I want to start using Swedish Drill with my 6 year old son – can you let me know if you think it’s appropriate to let the younger children (4 year old DS and 2 year old DD) join in? I think the 4 year old could participate quite well, but the 2 year old would just sort of follow along in her own way, I imagine? We do almost all of our school hours together, so I would expect to include them all, but would it be better to do another type of physical activity with them because of the young ones involved?

    • Reply Dawn September 8, 2018 at 7:31 am

      Hi, Courtney.
      While Swedish Drill was designed for children ages 9 and up, the the majority of exercises I included in Swedish Drill Revisited are well within the reach of the average 6-7 year old. While some of the exercises are inappropriate for children younger than that, many are not and are valuable to incorporate for working on the powers of attention and obedience with your Year 0 set. Just don’t expect perfect execution of the movements from children under the age of 6 and you should be able to adapt it for them as needed. Have fun!

  • Reply Christian January 17, 2018 at 6:17 pm

    This was SO helpful. I’ve wanted to add this to our schooling for awhile, but as many others have mentioned, I’m a very visual and step-by-step learner, so the videos are indispensable to me. Thank you!!

    • Reply Dawn January 18, 2018 at 3:15 am

      You’re welcome, Christian! Thanks for your comment! It is motivating to know that others are helped by such things, and makes me want to continue creating more content to guide others in this practice.

  • Reply Musical Drill Practices November 30, 2017 at 4:27 pm

    […] Dawn Duran’s Swedish Drill eBook can help you learn how to specifically implement the Swedish Drill portion of the drill syllabus. She also has some blog posts and videos. […]

  • Reply Rochelle August 17, 2017 at 8:28 am

    Thank you for the visual! I’m such a visual personal that I have been unable to even try to implement until now.

    Thank you!!!

    • Reply Dawn Duran August 17, 2017 at 1:21 pm

      You’re welcome, Rochelle. I’m so glad you find this series helpful. Come back to let us know how it goes if you continue to implement it.

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    […] can savor watching all of our kids enjoying our nightly Swedish Drill lessons and teach them handicrafts and nature lore that was getting bypassed […]

  • Reply Kathleen April 17, 2017 at 6:58 pm

    This is SO helpful! I have three boys, and Swedish Drill has been on my radar for years. The more I learned, the more intimidated I felt…I didn’t want to teach it incorrectly! Your videos and sample scripts are incredibly helpful. My wheels are turning now, considering the possibilities of working this into our homeschooling week. Thanks a bunch!

    • Reply Dawn Duran April 18, 2017 at 3:29 am

      You’re welcome, Kathleen! Thank you for leaving a comment. It’s wonderful to hear that this series of post is an encouragement and help to you. I’m working on an “open and go” pdf at the moment which I hope will help parents implement Drill into their homeschools more effectively. The videos are useful, of course, but I am hoping a document will make it easier for some to implement more regularly. Stay tuned for more details!:)

      • Reply Kathleen January 10, 2018 at 8:57 am

        Hi Dawn, We’re still using your videos! Any word on the additional resources you mentioned?

        • Reply Dawn January 10, 2018 at 10:29 am

          Yes, Kathleen! I was referring to “Swedish Drill Revisited,” which is now available for sale in the Afterthoughts store.

          • Kathleen January 24, 2018 at 8:12 am


  • Reply Kiel January 17, 2017 at 11:52 am

    Dawn, thank you so much for your work on this! We just started implementing Swedish Drill this month as part of our new AO Year 1 adventure. It is probably one of my son’s favorite parts of the school day! I have tried kids yoga videos with him before, but he complained that they are too girly (unusual for my artistic, sensitive boy) and has trouble executing the motions well anyway. But he loves watching and copying your boys in these videos, and we sometimes call this time Soldier Drills instead. 😉 He has a somewhat weak core, and I hope consistently doing drill will help improve that over time.

    • Reply Dawn Duran January 17, 2017 at 3:16 pm

      Oh, Kiel, this was such a wonderful thing to read this evening. Thank you for leaving a comment to let me know that you have been successfully implementing Drill with your son – I LOVE the idea of Soldier Drills:)! I do think that consistent efforts towards replicating the movement with emphasis on proper alignment can carry over into improved core control, and I hope you will find that to be the case with your son. Isn’t it a blast to be starting this journey that is AO? I started Year 1 again with my youngest son this month and it is so much fun.

  • Reply Mama Rachael December 7, 2016 at 1:27 pm

    Little Man is 5 1/2 years old and has times when its like he just can’t stop moving. Almost an impulse he can’t control. Of course, it results in a variety of ‘lack of self control’ moments, which we are working on (as in developing better/more self control). Do you think adding in something like this Swedish Drill could help him gain some physical control? (I know it would be good in general, just thinking through expectations) I know doing yoga presents the aspect of controlling your body, but I like that you’ve got this all laid out for me. 😀 I’m enough of a perfectionist that I just need stuff laid out at times.

    • Reply Dawn December 7, 2016 at 2:49 pm

      I’m glad you find the videos and instructions helpful, Rachael. I think this could be of help for your son. However, I will say that initially Swedish Drill was intended to be used with children 8-9 years and older. In terms of the instructions and perfect execution expectation 5 1/2 years old may be a little young, so if it doesn’t seem to work right now you can table the idea for half a year and try again.

      • Reply Mama Rachael December 7, 2016 at 4:18 pm

        He is Mr Gross Motor Man, and is extremely coordinated, so it might work. On the chance is doesn’t any thoughts on what else might help?

        • Reply Dawn December 7, 2016 at 5:38 pm

          It sounds like he won’t have any difficulties with the movements themselves. My own son was participating in Drill at age 5 successfully. However, not everyone is ready for starting so young, which is why I added the caveat. My now 6 year old has also great benefited from martial arts for the self-control element.

  • Reply Tina Paul October 27, 2016 at 10:52 am

    This is very helpful to me as Swedish Drill has seemed a mystery to me! Are you continuing this series? I would love it!

    • Reply Dawn Duran October 31, 2016 at 4:42 pm

      I’m glad to hear you have found it helpful, Tina! My final post in this series went live last week. There were a total of 4 posts which gives you the tools to implement two entire drill routines. I’m working on another project to help families in future, though, and that should be available in 2017. Stay tuned!

  • Reply Clare September 22, 2016 at 6:46 am

    For the first time since we started using Ambleside and following Charlotte Mason 5 years ago, we are doing Swedish Drill in our Morning Time. Thank you SO much for these posts, they have been invaluable. God bless you!

    • Reply Dawn Duran September 22, 2016 at 3:27 pm

      Oh, that makes me so happy to hear, Clare! I think Drill in Morning Time is a great way to prepare for the rest of the school day. Great idea!!

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    […] Swedish Drill How-to Videos […]

  • Reply Toni July 27, 2016 at 7:47 am

    This is great. Thank you so much! And your boys are adorable (you can tell them I said handsome ?). I am a sucker for brown-eyed boys in glasses (mine is 4 yo).

    • Reply Dawn July 27, 2016 at 7:50 am

      Aww. Thanks, Toni! I’m pretty partial to that myself:).

  • Reply Brian July 19, 2016 at 2:52 pm

    Thanks for this post. This entire series has been very interesting. You may or may not be aware, but much of Swedish drill lives on today in the (increasingly) popular fitness program called “Movnat”. Infact, many of the terminology is even the same, such as:


    -An example of a Movnat exercise regimen can be found here:

    -Movnat has a youtube channel with alot of video examples:
    -Movnat also has a website, where they are currently posting an exercise regimen through their journal:

    -And tons of articles have been written by/about Movnat on

    What I find most interesting about Movnat is that it is thoroughly rooted in the same western p.e. tradition that Swedish Drill comes from, but additionally addresses the human need for contact with Creation, (though they do this without any appreciation for the Creator…) Interestingly, today many modern people believe that the depth of life found through a loving connection with and stewardship of Creation is something only championed by Eastern thought. The entire yoga industry is predicated upon this idea. However, modern yoga practice in essence stems from the same western P.E. tradition as Movnat, but borrows and splices many religious and philosophical principles from Eastern religions in order to add in all the “nature stuff” which the heart of man yearns so desperately for.

    So here we are in modernity, with people doing yoga: a western physical discipline that has fused itself with eastern philosophies of nature, and with people doing Movnat: the same western physical discipline, but with western philosophies of nature. What they hold in common, besides a technical history, is that everyone agrees that human bodies require a connection with the Created environment. Conversely, Swedish drill is of the same historical spirit in movement technique, but is silent on issues of nature and environment. Obviously Charlotte Mason had much to say about such issues, and thus: if Swedish drill were taught more overtly and intentionally with an attendance to the Created world in exercise as understood by Charlotte Mason, it would be superior in its holism, compared to yoga and Movnat.

    Of course, you could solve this problem of “holism” within any of the 3 comparative movement disciplines. Yoga and Movnat need a reformed, True natural philosophy to apply, while CM Swedish drill just needs to apply the Truth it already knows about nature in its practice. Whichever way one addresses the problem, one thing is true: the techniques can and MUST be affected by the philosophy.

    For more info on Movnat’s history and philosophy:

    A Movnat promo video:

    • Reply Dawn July 20, 2016 at 5:21 pm

      This is fascinating, Brian. I have not heard of MovNat before now! From my brief glance through the links it looks like MovNat molds quite nicely with Katy Bowman and her work, which you can learn more about at her site I am very much looking forward to perusing these links more attentively over the coming weeks. Thanks for sharing them!

  • Reply Celeste July 15, 2016 at 7:07 am

    These are great, Dawn! Thank you so much for putting these together!

    • Reply Dawn Duran July 15, 2016 at 7:57 am

      Thanks, Celeste. There are more to come:).

  • Reply Kristyn July 14, 2016 at 10:02 am

    Dawn, you are awesome! I, too, have been planning for our next term and have Swedish Drill on our Morning Basket list. I was hoping, at some point, to review conference notes on your presentation. These short videos have put me “at ease!” I am so thankful for your inspiration and dedication to this project 🙂
    Big hugs from Texas!!!

    • Reply Dawn Duran July 14, 2016 at 11:15 am

      Thanks, friend. I gladly accept the TX hugs – so long as they don’t come with any of that TX heat. What we’ve got in MD today is about to kill me:). Looking forward to when you come to my neck of the woods!!

  • Reply Rebecca Miller July 13, 2016 at 4:10 pm

    Your boys are absolutely adorable. I love their guns!! They did such a good job and so have you in figuring all of this out and implementing it. Well done.

    • Reply Dawn Duran July 13, 2016 at 5:40 pm

      Awww. Thanks, Rebecca! It’s been fun to try to unravel the mystery that is Swedish Drill. It’s not nearly as intimidating as people seem to think. And yes – my boys do love their toy guns. It’s their favorite part of doing Drill:).

  • Reply Alisa July 13, 2016 at 2:05 pm

    Thanks so so much! The boys are so cute doing their routine. We are cracking up over here 🙂

    • Reply Dawn Duran July 13, 2016 at 3:10 pm

      Thanks, Alisa. My oldest in particular can really ham it up:).

  • Reply Sarah July 13, 2016 at 11:54 am

    Thank you so much Dawn (and your boys) for showing us how you do it! My boys are excited to give it a try and I will be adding this to our day very soon.

    • Reply Dawn Duran July 13, 2016 at 12:02 pm

      I’m very happy to help remove some of the mystery behind Swedish Drill so that others can incorporate it into their home schools. Please come back and let us know how it goes, Sarah!

  • Reply helen July 13, 2016 at 11:41 am

    Thank you so much! (I almost wrote that in all caps, but I had mercy on everyone.) This is exactly what I need to get my head around Swedish Drill and what it would look like to do it with my children.

    I so appreciate this post, and the general helpfulness of this CM community.


    • Reply Dawn Duran July 13, 2016 at 5:38 pm

      I’m so glad that you found it helpful, Helen. My next several posts here at Afterthoughts will follow this format to give everyone a better understanding of what Swedish Drill looks like. Stay tuned!

  • Reply Natasha July 13, 2016 at 8:20 am

    This is brilliant! I am really looking forward to incorpotating Swedish Drill into our studies this year. This series is SO helpful! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

    • Reply Dawn Duran July 13, 2016 at 10:29 am

      I’m so glad to help, Natasha! Please don’t hesitate to ask for clarification should you need it as you proceed with your plan to incorporate Drill into your school days.

  • Reply Jen Snow July 13, 2016 at 6:25 am

    Such perfect timing! On my list for today was to review your conference presentation and make a plan for including Swedish Drill in our morning basket in the fall. Thank you, friend. You’re pretty great. <3

    (Both of you are. Dawn AND Brandy. Pretty great, that is. <3)

    • Reply Dawn Duran July 13, 2016 at 10:28 am

      I’m so glad, Jen. I love when that happens.

      Psst – you’re pretty great, too:).

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