We all get up in the morning. How to you awaken in the morning? Begin with some reflection about your day, how does it begin?
- Is it peaceful and slow without an alarm clock? This is the moment, between sleep and awakening when the spiritual world brings us the answers to questions we bring at bedtime. To hear the response, we must be quiet and still to listen. Do you have time to really listen?
- Do you jolt out of bed?
- Do you need an alarm clock to wake up?
- Is your child your alarm clock?
- How do you like the way you wake up?
- How does it color you day?
Let these questions live within you this week, notice how you rise. Don't try to make answers or big changes, just notice, be gentle with yourself. It is an enormous task to care for children and a doubly enormous one to be solely responsible for the homemaking too.
Some of us work and help support our families materially too. (Whew! ~ hug yourself now and send hugs to all moms striving and working so hard, everywhere on the planet. It is a huge big deal. We know we hold up half the sky.)
The question of daily living with children comes up frequently over on my discussion group.
The question of how to talk to young children comes up too.
This is one I wrestled with for many years when I went from working with children over three to working with children under three in the nursery program. Many conversations and questions on this topic still resonate with me from conversations at Sophia's Hearth wondering... what stories to tell? do we use puppets? when to use marionettes? sing? when to talk? when to sing? when to start painting? what about coloring? What about nursery rhymes and finger puppets? what about work? chores?
So many questions of how to go through the day with children.
So I've decided to do a little series here on some of the basic elements of daily living with children or the Basic Elements of Daily Living with Children. So often I respond in discussion groups and those posts get lost or buried in the archives. This way they can be found or returned to as a reference point if they help you.
My monthly and year long program, Celebrate the Rhythm of Life in Caring for Children though the Year penetrates these questions much more deeply and focuses on the practical aspects of being with children as well as the deeper pedagogy grounded in development of the child supporting it. I offer guides, videos, stories, recipes and materials for specific support in implementing nourishing rhythms and activities through the day, the week, the week, the month, the season and the year in living with children, in finding joy and wonder in celebrating in the rhythm of life.
In this series on the blog, I will explore some of the basics. My experience comes from spending sixteen years in early childhood with my own children as well as twenty three years of working with families and children of other parents, in the Morning Garden, Kindergarten, After Care and Parent Child groups. I've worked at Waldorf schools with other teachers in a faculty environment and in my own home based nursery program. I've started a playgroup and taught childbirth education classes, a full spectrum of early childhood work that fuels my passion for this endeavor.
Over the years, in working with the children and carrying these questions, I began to find the answers. The children showed the way along with ongoing exploration of the pedagogy for greater understanding of the development of the human being. That part is ongoing.
The subject of rhythm of bringing rhythm to our lives with young children, is one all parents and early childhood teachers and care givers wrestle with, in finding one that will carry everyone through the day with a gentle flow, and tweaking it as it needs tweaking, ever so slightly to serve all through the year.
Rhythm is life. We breathe rhythmically, our heart beats rhythmically; we are rhythmic creatures. Until very recently in the history of humankind, we lived with nature’s rhythms, to rise with the sun, work in its warmth and light and turn in with its setting each day.
Through the year our ancestors followed the earth’s rhythms with sowing, planting, harvesting and preserving, all done to the beat of the earth’s rhythms.
Today we have light switches, heaters and grocery stores that make light, warmth and food possible anytime of the day or the year. We lost our dependence on that connection with the earth for survival. Now we must consciously become aware of the rhythm inherent in the natural world and implement it into our lives with full awareness of the need for that connection.
So how do we bring rhythm to our daily lives and particularly to the children? We do it artistically with verse and song to signal transition and to accompany our movement, to carry us along with our work such as chopping or kneading or washing or sweeping as well as playing and tidying up.
Remember those Pillars of Waldorf Education?
Our daily rhythm includes playing: inside and out of doors, preparing food, tidying, washing, eating, and listening to stories. Carrying these activities of our day in a rhythmic context helps bring a sense of containment to children, a feeling of security that helps them feel free to participate in the activities of daily living.
Weekly rhythm brings predictability to the child’s life; the child anticipates “ soup day”, “coloring day,” “bread day” and painting day.” Each week these activities remain on the same day of the week. With the seasons, we implement elements to reflect the rhythm inherent in the natural world, such as colors in painting and drawing and ingredients in the food we prepare, slight changes within the natural rhythms.
We have carried these activities into our grade school homeschooling with the new lesson on Monday, a writing exercise from it on Tuesday, a drawing on Wednesday, deepening on Thursday and painting on Friday. We also begin that three day within five day rhythm with a second part to the lesson on Wednesday, writing (and deepening from Monday) on Thursday) and painting on Friday.
Our mornings tend to go from 9:00 until noon with lunch around 12:30 and a rest to follow with handwork, French, movement games in the afternoon.
Joan Almon recommended a four hour morning for the under sevens to allow plenty of time for the children to engage deeply in free play and to allow plenty of breathing time, a flow through the activities of the morning, transitions and all.
With the under sevens, here is a sample of the morning in the Winter:
I like to start out of doors. It is a time to feed and water the hens, check the bird feeders and fill them and shovel snow of the deck and pathways if needed (or sweep or rake in warmer times of year)
8:00 ~ 9: 00 Children arrive, play or help with work
9:00 ~ 9:15 Circle or Good Morning song time
9:15 ~ 10:00 Daily activity and indoor playtime, laundry to fold is waiting in baskets everyday, each day brings a housekeeping activity in the playroom that is my focus, the children are free to join in or not
10:10 ~ 10: 15 Wash hands (leave time to play in water a bit
10:15 ~ 10:30 Morning Tea and wash dishes
10:30 ~ 11:30 Free play inside
11:30-12:30 Outside play time
12:30 ~ 1:00 Lunch and lavender foot bath
1:00 ~ 3: 00 Story and quiet, rest time
3:00 ~ 3:15 Use toilet, change diaper, wash face and hands, brush hair, experience a slow gentle wake up
3: 15 ~ 3:30 Afternoon tea (use only candle for light)
3:30 ~ 4:30 Free play out of doors (come in to a dark house lit only with candles in the dark days of the year)
4:30 Cook dinner (mostly organized during rest time) you'll need to turn the lights on perhaps
5: 30 Eat dinner and clean up
Bed (by seven for under sevens transitioning to by eight for eight year olds)
Now you have some adult time to yourself or with your partner.
Prepare to wake up before the household to have another 30 -60 minutes to yourself before the household awakens. Book end your day with breathing time for yourself. This is essential to finding and establishing a rhythm.
Next time, I'll share how that became the foundation for our grade school homeschooling days.
My friend Carrie, over on The Parenting Passageway, is blogging about Rhythm in her series on Eight Facets of Healthy Family Culture.