Are you in the middle of planning for a new school year? Considering whether or not Swedish Drill should have a place in your co-op schedule? I hope you’ll enjoy this transcription of a Question & Answer session I recently had with a fellow Charlotte Mason homeschooler* who is in the planning stages of an exciting new co-op venture.
1. How long will it take me to read the e-book and actually implement something? What is the timetable from sitting down to read the e-book and then leading children through their first drill?
First things first: e-book is a bit of a misnomer. It is a pdf file. It is not formatted for Kindle, and cannot be read from a Kindle easily.
Next I’ll address the more important aspect of this question. Part I of this manual contains sixteen pages of text that discuss the role of physical education in a Charlotte Mason paradigm, the history of Swedish Drill, and a discussion of resources that can be used to develop your own routines in the future. The remaining three pages in Part I discuss how to implement Swedish Drill in your home school or co-op. Part II contains thirty-three pages of instructions for implementing Drill routines, which include images and video links — as well as teaching tips — to ensure that your students are performing the movements correctly.
I believe a person could pick up the manual and read through it casually, and then follow along with Part II and immediately lead their students through the basic elements of a foundational Drill routine. This means that you as a reader will be immediately prepared to lead your first Drill lesson. However, it does not mean that an official Drill routine will be performed from start to finish in your first session. That is a process that will take multiple sessions to achieve.
2. You specified that drills last from 5-10 minutes. Is that standard, or do they ever go longer? And, specifically, in looking at a co-op setting what kind of a slot would be an ideal place to put Swedish Drill? By that, I mean — is it a good break from a quiet activity, is it good as a break before lunch, is it good in between other activities? Where can this be used most beneficially in a co-op setting?
A standard Drill routine consists of only eight exercises: one from each main category of movements in Swedish Drill. Depending on the number of repetitions you command your students to perform for each movement, your routine can last anywhere from 2-5 minutes. However, a Drill session — in which you are instructing students in movements that will later be used in a formal drill routine — typically lasts for ten minutes. Charlotte Mason’s schools included Swedish Drill in a thirty-minute time slot along with sol-fa and musical games, and therefore Drill received ~10 minutes of this slot on the time tables.
As to when it is most appropriate to include Swedish Drill into a school day or co-op schedule, I think there are lots of viable options. It can be a good transition into the school day altogether in that it helps the child to harness his attention, hone his concentration and focus his energy. It is a wonderful option after students have been sitting quietly and narrating and are in need of moving their bodies. I think it works particularly well as a transitional activity, and in our co-op Drill is slotted to take place when we are moving from one part of the building to another. We also have used it successfully after sitting for Sloyd and drawing instruction. There’s really no “wrong” or “bad” slot for Drill, and I encourage you to experiment with scheduling it to determine where it will fit best in your schedule.
3. In reading the web page that talks about Swedish Drill Revisited it says that it comes complete with two full drill sequences. Are these the building blocks, then, that I will take to build my own drill routines, or is there a resource that you have that points me to other sample routines? How does it actually work in terms of building a routine? Is it sequential, or is it up to the instructor’s discretion what comes next?
In Part I of the manual I explain that my goal is to provide users with the tools to create their own Drill routines in the future. I have culled the resources available, weeded out the movements that I don’t think are appropriate for use in a homeschool or co-op setting, and listed the ones that you could safely implement once you feel comfortable doing so. I am happy to create more routines to share in the future, as I am already doing so for our co-op for the upcoming school year, but I wanted to provide parents with the tools to continue Drill on their own in the future if they prefer.
There is a specific sequence for building the routines, including categories of movements that fall into a specific place in the Drill performance, and this is explained in more detail in the manual.
4. What would you say are the greatest benefits to doing drill in a co-op setting as opposed to doing it at home? What makes it a special thing to do in a co-op?
This is a great question. In our co-op the students are eager participants and seem disappointed when we don’t have Drill on our schedule on any given day. I believe that to be truly effective Swedish Drill must be performed several times weekly and not merely twice a month (as is the case with our co-op). In this sense, Drill must be a part of the home routine. However, the benefits I see for including it in a co-op setting include a delight in performing the movements properly in the company of their peers, and the positive pressure that comes from other students paying close attention and setting the example for students who tend to be “goofy” or silly. And, as mentioned above, it is excellent for transitioning a group from one activity to another without the attention-drift that so often happens in such instances.
5. What kind of background lends itself to picking up Swedish Drill? For example, if I had a background in karate, would that make it easier for me to understand the concepts of Drill? What kind of skill set would be ideally suited in a person to take this on to lead in a co-op setting?
I think that the ideal person to learn about Drill and lead it effectively is someone who is an exercise enthusiast and has a general knowledge of the way the body works, or a person with a background in wellness or the health sciences. Former/current athletes are also good candidates for learning and teaching Drill. However, my hope is that the manual I have created will provide even the parent without these skill sets the tools to implement Swedish Drill effectively in their homeschools and co-ops.
Other skills necessary for the Swedish Drill teacher are enthusiasm, encouragement and a loud, clear voice.
6. What’s the best way to read your book? Is it best to use a Kindle with internet access, or a laptop? What additional resources are linked to the e-book that make this a really helpful resource, and what equipment might I need to implement Swedish Drill in a co-op? Do I need a screen — for myself, or my students — or is this something that, once I learn it through reading the book and watching the videos, I can just take that knowledge and implement it?
As mentioned above, you may not have a good experience attempting to read Swedish Drill Revisited on a Kindle, as it not a .mobi file (it’s a PDF file). You can successfully read the manual, though, on a laptop or tablet, and if it is connected to the internet you will be able to click on embedded links within the manual that take you directly to videos of students performing the Drill movement.
Alternatively, you can print up the manual and have it comb-bound and use it like a book. You can print it in its entirety or in part, at your discretion. I imagine that it would be particularly useful to print Part II to use as a handy reference when implementing Drill with your students.
Personally, in preparing for a Drill lesson I would read the pages that coincide with the new movements I want to teach. I would review the teaching tips, look at the pictures in the manual, and watch the corresponding videos. I would attempt the movements myself and practice the commands so that I could consistently give them to my students.
I would not show my students the video or the pictures in the manual; rather, I would master them in my own body so that I could effectively demonstrate them myself. However, this is likely an individual decision with lots of variation. I do not like using screens with my children during the school day — although we allow a few exceptions — as I notice an obvious change in behavior when screens enter the equation.
Hopefully this Q&A session has helped you as you plan for the next school year. Please be sure to let me know if you have any further questions!
*Many thanks to Angela Reed for allowing me to use these questions as the format for this post. If you don’t know Angela or the rest of the ladies of Charlotte Mason In Real Life, I urge you to rectify the issue post haste.
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