The Extra Lesson
What is the Extra Lesson?
During an Extra Lesson, children perform many activities from special, individualised movements to speech and art therapy activities, which support the development of the nervous system in children in an outstanding way.
The concept of the Extra Lesson is a pedagogical methodology, which is characterised by a special, holistic approach that focuses on attaining a deeper understanding of human beings. The theory of the Extra Lesson was developed by Audrey E. McAllen in England, and it is based on the anthroposophical teachings of Rudolf Steiner. The Extra Lesson aims to remove any occurring psychological and physical obstacles from the path of child development through therapeutic processes, in order to help the child’s abilities develop and to assist the children in creating a real sense of inner harmony and balance for themselves.
Who is it for?
Taking Extra Lessons are recommended for any children (and even adults) from first grade in the following cases:
• to strengthen learning skills and prevent failures (it is especially recommended for children who were born premature, who have delayed movement or speech development, or if they skipped creeping/crawling or only practised these types of movements for a short period of time);
• learning difficulties (e.g. attention-deficit disorder (ADD); difficulties in reading, writing and/or arithmetics; concentration difficulties);
• anxiety and difficulties with socialising;
• uncoordinated movement or poor coordination;
• problems with spatial and temporal orientation;
• struggling with remembering and memory disorders.
After consulting with the parents, Extra Lessons take place at the Waldorf School, based on the recommendation of the class teachers.
The process of the Extra Lesson:
First, we start with consulting the parents (anamnesis) so that we can get to know the child as much as possible. The next step is a detailed, 1.5-hour-long examination of the child from many different aspects (e.g. auditory and visual attention, behaviour, movement coordination, reflex integration, presence of midline barriers, balance, sense of rhythm, perception processes, breathing, spatial orientation, body awareness, drawing analysis etc.). Due to this examination, we can gain insight into the child’s current level of development, and the process of their incarnation. In addition, we will be able to reveal if there have been any obstacles present in the development of the child, and we will also be able to locate the areas that the obstacles affect. For example, if a child’s movement development was not undisturbed, some obstacles may arise, and these obstacles can become factors that hinder the child’s later development, which can lead to possible learning difficulties in the classroom.
After the evaluation, we meet the parents to share our opinion and our suggestions regarding the possible treatments of the child. Some of these suggestions might include the children doing some activities at home, since each child can gain a lot by being supported at home.
What does an Extra Lesson look like?
Extra lessons take place 1 or 2 times a week, and they are built on each other in an epochal order. We usually start with a tuning-in activity, followed by special movement exercises that support the maturation of the nervous system and affect the lower senses (gross and fine motor skills, eye-hand-foot coordination etc.). For this, we not only apply the usual paper-pencil drawing and writing technique but we also use special, natural, high-quality materials (e.g. copper balls, bean bags, balls, paints and strings). At the end of the session, we finish with a relaxing painting, which positively affects the child’s nervous and craniosacral system, breathing, blood circulation, as well as the three essentials of human nature: thinking, feeling and will. This makes our session complete.
Waldorf Extra Lesson development specialist teacher and special education teacher.