In the previous article, I had discussed the Waldorf philosophy. In this one, I have attempted to explain the idea of rhythms and their importance.
We can see and experience ‘Rhythms’ all around us - in the sun, moon, plants, animals, rain, wind and so on..without rhythms, the universe would not exist!
‘Rhythm’ means a schedule or routine that is repeated over and again. Schedules/ rhythms can be classified as daily, weekly, monthly and yearly.
Designing and following a rhythm is the most essential aspect of a Waldorf home or a school. Rhythms also help in forming habits and discipline, but in a very subdued way.
How do you design a rhythm?
There is no fixed way of designing a rhythm, especially if you have a child. At home, time disappears! Many days pass without having time to change your pajamas or do your hair…yes it’s true and has happened to me too!
How can we design our day so that we make time for every little thing we wanted our child to experience, yet not compromise on ‘Me time’ as a parent? The answer is to find a ‘rhythm’ suitable for your family needs.
Let’s discuss ‘daily rhythm’ in detail in this conversation.
Breathing-in and breathing-out is the outline to design a rhythm. ‘Breathing-in’ is the time during which we do things that need concentration/attention - it can also be called as winding. Eg: meal time, story time, structured activity, helping in chores.
‘Breathing-out’ is the time to let go and unwind. Eg: unstructured free play, nature walk, bath time, sand play.
Remember that children have limited attention spans and our intention is not to increase it by structuring activities to develop their abilities. Children’s attention span will increase steadily as they grow up. One can expect it to develop between the ages of 5 and 7.
This is what our day looked like, based on the breathing-in and breathing-out rhythm, when my daughter, Sinchana, was 12 months old until we started school.
6.00 wake up
6.30 Help in making breakfast followed by freeplay
8.00 Bath time
8.30 Breakfast time
9.00 Free play in the balcony or outdoors
10.00 Help in drying clothes (& other daily chores)
10.30 Fruit time
11.00 Free play indoors
11.45 Clear up and wash hands
1.00 Nap time
3.30 Wake up and snack time
4.30 Park time
6.00 Wash hands and help in making dinner
7.00 Dinner time
7.30 Story time followed by bedtime
Giving up or Rearranging?
My entire schedule would revolve around my daughter’s. I let go of a lot of socializing to suit my child’s needs. We gave up on late evening socializing, stocking junk food at home and including more raw vegetables and fruits in our diet.
I would do my work when my daughter was asleep or during her freeplay and household chores when she was awake so that she could see and be a part of the chores. I would hardly interfere in her playtime and only gave attention when she asked.
We kept our home environment intentionally spacious, clutter free, child friendly and I would always be visible to Sinchana while she was playing.
Whenever she needed she could see me, come to me, cuddle me and go back to her play. This created security and bonding between both of us. I could watch her and set a boundary. With this, Sinchana also developed a sense of boundary and stuck to it for a long time until she turned 2.5. Now she wants to explore the space outside her boundaries and I let her do so with the trust that she is safe!
Benefits of Rhythm in Physical & Emotional Development
It is important to keep your house child friendly so that you don’t have to say ‘No’ each time they are exploring the environment, which is essential for developing trust that in turn grows into inner security in relation to the outside world.
Our outdoor play was focused more on movement and sand play rather than being limited to swings and slides. This helps develop sensory integration. Movement facilitates speech and nature play facilitates immunity development in the most natural way!
Setting a meal time aligned to our liver rhythms is another important aspect. Breakfast: 8-9 am, snack around 10.30 am, lunch: 12-1.30 pm, evening snack: 3-4pm, dinner: 6- 7.30 pm. Eating away from these time frames affects natural appetite and digestion process. Good amount of play also facilitates natural appetite!
Creating a rhythm of this kind is like building a strong foundation in the initial years. Children then move to the next stage of development, where they are more interested in the outside world and want to socialize with friends rather than stay at home!
Childhood is only for 900 weeks. Are you making the best of it for your little one?
Also read: Waldorf & The Importance Of Mother Tongue
Explore the entire collection of articles: Early Learning & Brain Development#waldorf