I will like to share information on Waldorf philosophy and ways we can reinforce the rhythms at home.
Rhythm- is structure, it is what brings order out of chaos and we all know how chaotic life can be with young children.
When we provide a rhythmical day for the little ones it brings them a sense of security in the knowing, a sense of well being, relaxation and sense of accomplishment.
There is a yearly rhythm that is reflected in the seasons and a time to experience a feeling of community as we come together to enjoy the different feelings that nature provides throughout the year. There is a monthly rhythm with the waxing and waning of the moon. Women get to experience a monthly rhythm for more than half their lives. There is a weekly rhythm and daily rhythm that provides structure to our work life, family life and social life. It is the daily rhythm that effects the children most.
In Waldorf education when we look to create a rhythm for the children we look to format it in terms of an in and out breath. The in breath is a more formal or contained part of the rhythm where the out breath is the moment you can let it all go. This is happening because our lives have changed and we have two working parents trying to get out the door by a certain time and the morning is a big IN breath for the children, so by the time they come to school they need an OUT breath which can happen during free play with active play, then for circle, IN breath, then OUT breath with the HUG shop, then snack IN breath etc.
Breathing is rhythmical and it is the basis of life. If we move through the day this way we are teaching the children at the very core of their being how to live life in a healthy and balanced way. Plus it makes your life much easier. When they know the rules and what to expect they are much more likely to cooperate.
Think of rhythm as the structure of the home, walls, ceiling, floors, windows, and the fluctuations of the day are all the decorations inside. You just get to redecorate your home every day; I know it leaves us all in constant amazement at how different one day can be from the other. Here are some ideas of how you can provide rhythm in your home.
Much of it has to do with how your family’s day looks and how you can make certain moments in the day predictable and the same.
(i.e. do not give too many choices)
Rhythm is supported by firm boundaries with the young child. Again creating form and structure for them makes them feel safe. A young child does not want to be in charge. They don’t want to be the one making decisions. When a child is asked if they want to eat now or would you like to put on a jacket it creates a lot anxiety for the child. They want and need authority. Of course we want to approach this in a loving way. First we say “You may put on your shoes now.” or “It’s time for me to put on your shoes now.” Adding a bit of imagination works wonders. “ come to the shoe shop” if a child is not wanting to put on their shoes, as this is common for most at some point, we can approach this with, “I will put on your shoes or your may do it”.
You may sit until we are all finished with dinner. Repeat until the child understands, it may take time and that is ok. By providing children freedom within the container you create they will feel safer, and can trust the world more. Don’t worry there will be plenty of time for them to be the decision maker.
Nutrition has a huge impact on behavior. Everything from cooperation, to sleep, to mood and most important health. This time of year we are all very interested in keeping our children healthy and free from as many colds and flus and we can make it possible. Nutrition is key in prevention of sickness.
Providing nutrient dense foods that are packed with vitamins, minerals, healthy fats. Non processed, whole and if possible organic foods. One of the most important foods to avoid is sugar. When researching what amount of sugar is ok for young children, it was very difficult to find a recommended amount. Then I found out why when I came across a site that said no amount of sugar is ok for a young child. So there…no one wants to commit to an ok amount because there is no amount is ok. With that in mind…and the reality that we live in a world full of sugar. Grandparents give it, aunties and uncles give it and sometimes we even use it to bribe our children. However, we can do our best to reduce the amount as much as we can. So begin to find the hidden sugars in your child’s life. For example: 1 t is 4.7 gms of sugar so when a child eats one of those healthy organic fruit yogurts that has 18 grams of sugar you are giving them just under 4 teaspoons of sugar. Then we put a half sliced apple in there which is about 11 grams of sugar so just over 2 teaspoons of sugar. Then a peanut butter and jelly sandwich anywhere from 11 to 18 grams so another 2-4 teaspoons. What is happening to a child when they eat sugar. It spikes their blood sugar for a time. Then they crash, it activates their endorphins and adrenals, which over stimulates the child. When there is a lot of sugar in the blood, which in layman’s terms, is digested by the white blood cells and reduces the white blood cells ability to absorb any viruses or foreign agents in the body by 75% for 4-6 hours. If sugar is a must always couple it with protein to help reduce the blood sugar spike. Books say sugar is the cause of obesity not fat. Also that sugar keeps the immune system at risk. Give lots of good fat (nuts, avocado, olive oil, animal fats) to your kids for brain and organ development. And keep them warm, less sugar and more warmth with lots of sleep will help keep sickness at bay.
Speaking of warmth, it is very important to keep your children warm. We speak of warmth in the Waldorf world on several levels: physical warmth, environmental, emotional warmth. It is an absolute necessity for a growing, thriving child. This time of year in colder climates however, physical warmth is in the forefront. Keep your babies warm. Even though a child’s temperature can often run higher than adults, children don’t have a developed enough system yet to maintain that heat, so they chill much faster than we do. They also don’t have the body awareness to understand when they are feeling cold, even up to 7 years old they may not understand that they are cold. When they get cold the body is using up its energy that should be going to maintaining the immune system, developing organs, building the body and the brain for keeping the child warm so they survive. We don’t want our children to be in survival mode. Those are needs to be taken care of by us so they can be free to grow and develop. There are two rules of thumb used to gage your child’s warmth.
It’s important to use natural materials like silk, wool or cotton. Organic cotton clothes are important for your baby because you really want to limit their irritants and exposure to chemicals when they’re developing. This will not only keep them healthier and help them develop more natural, but it will also keep them a lot more comfortable due to limiting the irritants around them.
Thank you for taking time to understand a little bit more about Waldorf education, rhythm and warmth.