Category Archives: Physical education

What is the Pentathlon Training?

The WLR Pentathlon Training program is offered every 2-3 years and is inspired by the Waldorf 5th grade curriculum. Around this age, students’ understanding of the world is broadened and deepened through exploration of various ancient cultures, typically finishing with Greek history and mythology. The highlight of the year is a physical education training program culminating in the Greek Pentathlon.

Students demonstrate “Draw back and aim” command.

The WLR Greek Pentathlon training is open to students in Grades 5-8. The 12-week program meets for 2 hours each week. Students learn and practice the 5 traditional pentathlon events:

  • Discus
  • Running
  • Javelin
  • Running long jump
  • Greek wrestling

Safety is emphasized throughout the training. Also important: students learn by focusing first on form; as they become confident in form and technique, grace and poise develop. You may see your student begin to walk a bit taller! Athletes are encouraged to practice at home 3-5 times a week for 15-20 minutes.

The throwing events are modified for safety; students throw from a stationary stance (rather than running). Running events include both a long distance run (about a mile) and a sprint.

Greek wrestling provides a unique opportunity for the developing student to meet both him/herself and his/her peers. Decorum is paramount. First, students greet one another with a firm handshake in a show of goodwill and good faith toward their opponent. Then with feet well-grounded, the athletes take their stance and form the “golden circle,” clasping hands as indicated. The stance itself brings the student into the here and now, into the presence of the human being before them, with honor and respect. They share energy; they share space; they look into one another’s eyes and learn from each other while as they challenge each other. Practicing again and again, the athletes become not only more skilled in the wrestling itself, but perhaps more importantly, they become accustomed to meeting their fellow human being with honor and respect.

The Greek Pentathlon training is about much more than simply developing physical skills; the program aims to create a deep, meaningful experience on many levels, planting seeds that have a profound and lasting effect.

The handshake: precursor to each Greek wrestling match.

Students prepare to engage in Greek wrestling match.

Student prepares to recite ‘ode’ before Discus throw.

Student demonstrating “stand” command in preparation for Javelin throw.

Each week includes warm-ups, training and practice in 1-3 events, and cool down/stretching.

The Pentathlon Training is the perfect complement to your student’s study of Greek History or Mythology, bringing learning to life while creating lasting memories. To enhance the Pentathlon experience, consider registering your student for WLR’s Greek Mythology, History & Art class on Mondays. The program is also ideal for students who may have previously studied Greek History & Mythology.

Requirements: Students should come ready for active participation wearing appropriate clothing and footwear (well-fitting athletic shoes); long hair must be tied back securely. Bring water and light snacks; a short break (about 10 minutes) will occur about halfway through each class. Regular attendance is important as students learn important safety precautions and refine their developing skills each week. In addition, students will identify and practice speaking a short ‘ode’ to the Greek god / goddess of his/ her choice to be recited at the final event. Class is designed for grades 5-8; minimum age is 10 years old.

Recommended Reading: Ideally, prior to first class meeting, students will be familiar with Greek history and/or mythology. Choose a solid, classic source to read with your child or on his/her own. Below are a few possibilities:

  • D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths
  • Ancient Greece, Charles Kovac
  • The Golden Fleece & the Heroes Who Lived Before Achilles, Padriac Colum

Students relaxing before the gods arrive to oversee the Pentathlon.

The training program culminates in the final Pentathlon Event, a community endeavor. Parents participate with some light set up tasks and organizing the Greek feast, a potluck luncheon to follow the event. Judges for the event include several Greek gods and goddesses who oversee the festivities. Awards are granted not only for fastest/furthest but also for those who excel in demonstration of beauty, poise and grace as they execute their feats. Parents, siblings, relatives and friends are all welcome to cheer on the pentathletes!

The training sessions take place on Wednesday mornings with at least half of the sessions at Ancil Hoffman Park in Carmichael. The remaining sessions take place at Tahoe Park in Sacramento, close to Highway 50 & 65th Street. For details, including class dates and times, click here.

The 2018 Pentathlon final event is scheduled for May 9, 2018.

Early Registration discount for the Greek Pentathlon ends December 30th. The training begins Wednesday, January 17th.

Go to WLR Registration Page.