[dropcap]I[/dropcap]t’s an exciting time of year, isn’t it? Summer will soon fade into the cooler temperatures of autumn, and a new “year in books” will begin for Charlotte Mason homeschoolers. For many families, back to school involves a return to regular community activities. I have received a number of questions over the past several weeks regarding Swedish Drill in a group setting. I’ve written about this previously, but in this post I’ll address these more recent questions.
How do I order the Swedish Drill Revisited curriculum for use in a co-op?
Let me explain. One person from your group must place the order, selecting a license for the size of their co-op (i.e., 3-5 families, 6-10 families, etc.). That person will receive a download link for the file. They then have permission to share the file via email with any member of the group who has contributed to the purchasing cost.
We briefly considered having the purchaser input the email addresses of everyone who had contributed to the purchase price so that we could distribute the product to them individually, but that ended up too complicated, and I have confidence that users are conscientiously respecting our honor system.
What ages is Swedish Drill for?
Remember: Swedish Drill in its original form was designed for use with children ages 9 and older. While the majority of the exercises I have adapted for inclusion in Swedish Drill Revisited are well within the reach of children ages 6 and up, the youngest students should not be held to the same standards to which we hold our older students. If students ages 6-8 do not seem capable of performing certain exercises well, I discourage you from attempting to instruct them. Remember: we want to keep the goal of perfect execution before the child when performing Drill. However, perfect execution for a 5-year-old looks different from perfect execution in a 10-year-old due to differences in physical development, and this is important to be aware of — and respect.
What about older children? It is a misconception that Swedish Drill is only appropriate for younger children. On the contrary, it could be even more valuable for older children, who tend to be more sedentary than younger ones because they have more schoolwork and therefore less free time for physical activity. Remember: one of my goals with Swedish Drill Revisited is to act as a corrective for the positions we habitually participate in, and these postures are more pronounced — and more frequently adopted — as children become older and spend less time running and playing out of doors.
While students aged 13 and older may not approach Drill with a high level of enthusiasm if they are performing it alongside students who are 6 years old, there is still value in Swedish Drill for them. One idea for inspiring them to master the moves included in Swedish Drill, and thereby gain its many benefits, is for them to assist the main instructor during your co-op’s Drill time. An appropriate student-to-teacher ratio is important to maintain in order for Drill to be truly effective in a co-op setting, and having older students who are proficient in the moves assist with leading Drill time can provide the older students with valuable leadership and teaching experience while simultaneously gaining better postural strength and becoming more disciplined in the process.
How long should a Swedish Drill lesson be?
There is a great deal of flexibility in this, and it is entirely adaptable to fit the needs of the family or community. A Drill lesson can successfully be completed in as little as 5 minutes, and 10 minutes is more than enough to accomplish a day’s goals in a homeschool setting. However, it would be appropriate to allot more time for implementing Swedish Drill in a group setting. In a co-op in which there is an appropriate student-to-teacher ratio, and as more movements are learned that can be added into a Drill routine, the session can last 15-20 minutes and still hold the attention of the participants.
What is this “appropriate student-to-teacher ratio” for Swedish Drill?
I’m glad you asked. The movements included in Swedish Drill Revisited are most effective when they are performed precisely. In my experience as a physical therapist, as well as from teaching a wide variety of audiences Swedish Drill since 2015, there is a wide range of body awareness, in both children and adults, and this becomes all the more obvious when engaging in a physical activity in a group setting. Some students execute movements well after only a try or two, while others are less aware of how their bodies move in space and need more feedback and hands-on instruction. In order to provide this type of teaching the person responsible for leading Drill in your co-op needs assistants who commit to mastering the movements themselves in order to assist the students during group Drill time.
The ratio of 10-12 students to 1 instructor (i.e., me) in my co-op was too high: I was unable to provide the kind of feedback I wanted with each student to facilitate their perfect execution of each movement. I was able to provide sufficient supervision to make sure students would not become injured, but I prefer to be able to help them maximize the gains that Swedish Drill has to offer. As a result of this experience, I recommend a ratio of no more than 7 students to 1 facilitator. While only one person is needed to lead Drill in a group setting, it will be far more effective if there are more people available to work with individual students while the main teacher continues to lead the group as a whole. This is one area in which having older students work alongside younger ones in the co-op setting can be valuable, and I encourage you to take advantage of this when possible.
Let’s look at an example co-op strategy for Swedish Drill.
This was shared with me by Niko Lewis of Aspen Grove Educational Community.
Niko has encouraged all parents to read the background information in Swedish Drill Revisited in order to help them understand the goals of the program and to keep everyone on the same page. She plans to teach the students 2-3 exercises each time they meet, with the ultimate goal being to perform an entire drill routine (which typically consists of 8-12 exercises) together. During the time between meetings the exercises introduced will be reviewed as “home work,” directing the parent to the appropriate instructions and videos as found in the manual Swedish Drill Revisited.
While the group is working towards the goal of completing an entire routine from start to finish, Niko plans to incorporate “mini-drill practices” once the students have mastered previously learned exercises. For example, after they have mastered 4 exercises, then she would incorporate these 4 movements into a mini-drill. This is excellent scaffolding for ultimately performing a full routine, and I think it will reinforce the goals of Drill very well.
Best of luck as you incorporate Swedish Drill in your community, too. Please be sure to share any ideas you have for doing so in the comments below!
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