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    Educational Philosophy, Home Education

    Swedish Drill as Habit Training

    June 26, 2018 by Dawn Duran

    The summer solstice is behind us and a peek on Instagram tells me that many of you are enjoying your summer break. While this will certainly involve plenty of time relaxing by the pool reading good books, I have noticed that several families utilize the summer months to emphasize habit training that often falls to the wayside during the school year. Have you considered the possibility that Swedish Drill can be a habit training tool?

    As you know, Swedish Drill fosters the habits of observation, attention, and perfect execution that are frequently referenced in Charlotte Mason’s volumes. We can all benefit from additional opportunities to practice these habits, can’t we? What about our physical habits? Have you ever considered that posture (a.k.a., alignment) is a habit, too? Good “posture” is a good habit; likewise, bad “posture” is a bad habit.

    Are you aware of your own posture? What about the posture of your children? As a physical therapist, I, for better or worse, pay attention to this all. the. time. In myself and in others. I literally cringe with discomfort when I notice particularly poor examples of posture, because in my head I am seeing all the strain and stress it imposes on the structures that lie beneath the skin and the resulting pain that lies ahead for the individual as a result.

    And now none of you ever want to meet me in person lest I judge your posture. Sigh.

    Please do not imagine that my own posture is perfect, though, or that my children are poster-children for good posture. Like the rest of you, we are works in progress. But it is definitely something we constantly work on in our home, and we intentionally emphasize good postural habits over poor ones. I seem to remember someone wise once saying that if we choose not to instill a good habit then a bad one will form in it’s place… Oh, yes! It was Charlotte Mason! In Towards a Philosophy of Education she writes:

    Habit is inevitable. If we fail to ease life by laying down habits of right thinking and right acting, habits of wrong thinking and wrong acting fix themselves of their own accord. (p. 101)

    It’s not a stretch to see how this applies to our physical posture, is it?

    In School Education, Charlotte Mason acknowledges the disciplinary value of physical education when she writes:

    Use of Habit in Physical Training. — It is well that a child should be taught to keep under his body and bring it into subjection, first, to the authority of his parents and, later, to the authority of his own will; and always, because no less than this is due, to the divine Authority in whom he has his being. (p. 104)

    After all, our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, are they not? We are called to glorify our physical bodies, which are on loan to us from our Heavenly Father. Developing good physical habits is one way that we can bring honor to our Lord.

    In a Parents’ Review article from 1904 entitled Physical Education for Girls, Miss C. Thomas addresses the need for improved discipline of body and mind. With respect to the value of Swedish Drill as a discipline, she writes:

    Precision is to be aimed at… Simple unquestioning obedience is rarely to be met with now. Everywhere the lack of it is felt. Disobedience and carelessness in attending to all directions is the great trouble encountered by all who have to train others. Movements performed to words of command should, and certainly do help to form habits of obedience and promptness. Accuracy of detail inculcates a sense of truth and this will finally lead on to courage. (p. 696)

    Later in this article Thomas returns to the theme of discipline:

    A drill lesson is almost entirely made up of controlled movements; games allow a good deal of spontaneous movement on the part of the player. Spontaneity forms the charm and much of the value of games — discipline, strange as it may seem, forms the charm and value of a good drilling lesson. (p. 701)

    One more aspect of Swedish Drill that I wish to highlight is that it promotes physical activity without a subsequent rise in adrenaline levels that frequently leads to a decreased ability to focus on lessons. Where calisthenics and boisterous games often result in a child becoming too stimulated to return to his lessons, Swedish Drill seems to enhance a child’s ability to focus on mental work after a session is complete.

    And … this is where I will be self-promoting for a bit, if you’ll forgive me. Swedish Drill Revisited is an excellent means by which to address physical habits as well as mental ones. It is designed to be a tonic for the postural faults that so often plague us, to promote increased body awareness, and to develop strength and endurance in musculature that is critical to optimal alignment (a.k.a, “good posture”). If you’re not already incorporating Swedish Drill into your homeschool, may I suggest that this summer may be an excellent time to start?

    And for those of you who have already been implementing Swedish Drill in your homeschools … Level II of Swedish Drill Revisited will be available in mid-July. Stay tuned!

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  • Reply Valerie July 8, 2018 at 2:19 pm

    The link says this is not a Kindle book- what kind of book is it, and how would I use it? I’m not very tech saavy- I really don’t use electronic books etc unless they are on an app. Can I use this book from my phone? Is it meant to be open when doing the lessons with your kids? Thanks

    • Reply Dawn Duran July 8, 2018 at 5:09 pm

      Thanks for your questions, Valerie. I will do my best to answer them for you.
      Swedish Drill Revisited and Swedish Drill Revisited II are pdf files. Many people prefer to use them from a tablet so they can easily click on the video links embedded within the document. I have never used them from a phone myself, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be done.

      Ideally the parent will be prepping the lesson before actually implementing it with her children. While the manual can be used as a guide during the actual lesson, it is preferred that the parent master the move herself before instructing her child in the movement.

      If I can clarify anything further, Valerie, don’t hesitate to ask.

      • Reply Valerie July 11, 2018 at 10:51 am


  • Reply Amy Best July 1, 2018 at 4:43 pm

    Hi there, I’m very interested in your swedish drill book. Recently I’ve been trying to do more core strengthening for myself and the kiddos. My doc said to find youtube videos for short pilates/yoga routines that would target core strengthening. Would Swedish drill be something to do instead of that? Does it address some of the same issues? Thank you!

    • Reply Dawn Duran July 2, 2018 at 12:50 pm

      Swedish Drill does address core strength by emphasizing proper alignment, which cannot be achieved without proper activation of the core musculature. However, it is not what people immediately think of when they hear “core training.” As a physical therapist, though, I have no hesitation recommending this exercise regimen over a traditional core strengthening routine performed independently. When people attempt to perform pilates/yoga without individual instruction before picking up the practice on their own, then the exercises they perform can actually perform more harm than good due to poor technique. In that sense, Swedish Drill is superior to traditional core training.

      Thanks for your interest, Amy – and let me know if I can answer any other questions for you.

  • Reply Rebecca June 30, 2018 at 1:00 pm

    Hmm…I’m rethinking waiting until the fall now to start Swedish Drill and starting this afternoon as I have horrible posture. Thank you for putting all of this together, Dawn!

    • Reply Dawn Duran June 30, 2018 at 3:40 pm

      Ha! Conviction is a tough pill to swallow, isn’t it? Let me know how it goes when you do begin, Rebecca!

  • Reply Tina June 27, 2018 at 10:24 am

    Yay!!!! Level II

    • Reply Dawn Duran June 27, 2018 at 11:06 am

      I appreciate your enthusiasm, Tina!

  • Reply Heather June 26, 2018 at 6:55 pm

    The Swedish Drill has always interested me, but especially when you mentioned posture. I have one daughter in particular with poor posture, so I think it may be a good idea for us to try your Swedish Drill Revisited! She will be 13 in a few weeks. Do you think this is something that would still benefit her (along with her younger siblings)? Thanks!

    • Reply Dawn Duran June 27, 2018 at 9:32 am

      Absolutely, Heather: I do believe that exercises such as those included in Swedish Drill Revisited would benefit your daughter. In fact, I think that starting a regular regimen before she reaches adolescence is very important for bringing her awareness to her postural alignment, at the very least. We have consistently perform drill in a co-op setting in which children ages 3-13 participate. The expectations must be adjusted for age-appropriateness, of course, but they all enjoy the routines we do – regardless of age. Let me know if you have any additional questions, please, and I’ll do my best to answer them!

  • Reply Lisa A June 26, 2018 at 5:28 pm

    Oh, Dawn, you always inspire me to pick back up with Swedish Drill! But then I let it fall by the wayside again. My kids do love it, but I think my problem is that by using free resources I have make decisions about which moves to do every time we do it. I need the plan already laid out for me so I won’t be fatigued by the effort of decision (CM is always so wise!). So I wanted to ask – does your resource do this? Can I open it up and have the plan laid out for me every time we go to do Swedish Drill?

    Please say yes! 🙂

    • Reply Dawn Duran June 26, 2018 at 5:37 pm

      I understand, Lisa! That is one reason why I created Swedish Drill Revisited: to have it as close to “open and go” as possible. You can view sample pages on my website – – to get a better idea for what it looks like:).

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