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Rhythms- in our homes, environment and life

If there is one aspect that Waldorf based schools and homeschoolers specifically think and spend their time planning is RHYTHM. Rhythm for the day, week, month, year. It is beautiful to see how a well connected a day, month or year can be when craved rhythmically. Rhythm works on different levels for all of us. A child feels more secure when he knows what is coming next, while there is more discipline in the life of a homemaker. As a matter of fact, many families with both parents working might find setting a rhythm unrealistic or something that cannot be achieved. I’d like to look at it this way – Will our children connect to “Oh! It’s Monday morning, don’t forget, I have meetings all day” OR “Okay munchkin, your snack will be ready soon as you are back from school”?

Songs are a very fulfilling way to transition between activities. Make up a little song to wash hands before they come together for a meal … “this is the way we wash our hands..this is the way we scrub our hands…”

If one looks around to observe, one can see that rhythm is everywhere. From the sunrise to sunset, change in seasons, change in crops, our migrating friends to our breath, things we do during the day, night, a visit to your hometown each summer, festivals, the list never ends. The time is just right to mention an article penned by Nirupama Rao; https://niraamayaa.wordpress.com/2016/06/05/importance-of-rhythms/. I followed the liver rhythm she talks about for some time and I can vouch for it. There were so many things I could accomplish, higher energy levels and felt so good.

“We learn through all our experiences and they enrich our store of knowledge. But in order that man may learn on the Earth, he must be allured by, [or] involved in enjoyment.” — Rudolf Steiner

Why is there a need to set a Rhythm?

Rhythm and predictability go hand in hand. They are like two sisters. Children feel secure when they know what’s coming next. A healthy rhythm weaves each moment to a day and each day to a week, month, year.. and years go by, you will notice how strong you are growing as a family and how safe your children feel to spread their wings and fly about once they are all grown up. It takes many strong stitches to make a piece of cloth wearable. However busy or scheduled your life is, it is never too late nor it is very difficult to set a loving rhythm in your house. Did I miss mentioning a healthy rhythm strengthens your authority as a parent (of course a more gentle and understanding one)? You will also find your teen more cooperative thanks to all the channels of discipline it has carved over the years. Discipline that is more innate and natural.


Tackling counterwill of a child gets easier when we relax on our commanding tone and draw the children inwards with transitional songs or verses. It’s best to leave the child in his dreamy state rather than awakening him with unnecessary instructions.

Rhythm of the year for an example

Establishing a healthy and meaningful Rhythm

For those who are starting new towards setting up a rhythm in your home, consider taking baby steps instead of I’ll change everything in a day mode. These few pointers may help you kick-start. But they are really only cues. How each one of you take it forward or have been following it is something I’ll be curious to know.

Recognize the anchor points of a day in your home. For homes with younger children, it is probably the mealtimes and naptimes and for the older children, probably a few more additions like activities – artistic/ help with your household chore of the day. If these activities are set, allow the rest of the time to blend into your day and weave it in a ‘breathe in – breathe out‘ manner. You come together for a meal time and then the little one goes to some playtime, you come together again for another meal, maybe and off to your bed for a little nap. Over a period of time, the child will begin to know that after lunch, it is time to close his eyes and rest or he will even go to the sink to wash his hands and help you ready the dinner table when it is time. Of course, we do not have to be stringent with the time. “Come what may, we will sit down to eat at 6PM” is not pleasing at all. “We sit down to eat around 6” is a more consistent way towards establishing a healthy rhythm.


 

Image result for receive the child in reverence

“One of the tasks of the growing child and one of the functions of parenting is to bring the child into rhythm.” – Rahima Baldwin


It is important to tune your inner self towards being flexible. With the little ones, every day is a brand new day. They are so light hearted, bouncy and carefree that we need to think ahead of every situation to stay calm and continue the day in a disruptive manner. That way, you know how to turn the tide when an ugly situation arises. Sounds weird, but is completely sensible to know yourself well to understand your limitations. If you know how flexible you are and what your limitations are, isn’t it easier to plan a rhythm that is sustainable?

Repetition is the key. Develop a suitable pattern for the day and repeat the same pattern each day. Slowly, you will see how well your family traditions can also be instilled in your child. Keep in mind, activity that requires the child to concentrate- ‘be there’. There is no way your child is going to finish that piece of artwork or homework if the adult around is sitting with a phone/ planning a grocery run. His time to exhale or during breathe-out activity is the best time for you to finish up chores need not involve him. Such a pattern when practised every day, helps the child predict what comes next and reassures your child that you are there for your child when there the need arises instead of looking out for you each moment of the day.

Create. Sing. Meditate. Hug. Rever.

A good rhythm should leave you stress free end of day and makes sense for it to fit into your family naturally. Whether changes are big, or small; you surely are right person to know what best works for you and your family. Sometimes, the change you need to bring in can be drastic for your child definitely worth embracing in the long run. Create rituals, establish a suitable rhythm for repetitive activities and foster reverence.

Warmth,

Pavithra

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What Kind Of Stories To Tell Children (Part 3)

Seasonal Stories

We all live in a world full of rhythms. Rhythms are of different types – daily, weekly, monthly and yearly. My focus in the current post is on yearly rhythms. Festivals and Seasons and birthdays occur rhythmically, once every year. They can be great starting points for story narrations. Tell the child stories about these events that  occur every year during the seasons -summer, rain, fall, and winter; festivals -Pongal, Ganesha Chaturthi, Diwali, Christmas; Children cherish stories about their own birth and homecoming.

Children feel a sense of belonging in these stories as they can see the elements of the story right in front of them and relate to them. You may start narrating seasonal stories to babies, children 1-6 years. By repeating these topics every year during the season or festival, children understand deeply about their environment and culture. For example, you can speak to a  toddler about Rain in a simple way. Talk about how the raindrops falls down slowly and the ground gets wet. Observe how all the animals, birds and people who run to take shelter from the rain. This can be done by observing surrounding or supported by picture books. There are several beautiful books that discuss these everyday happenings.
Sunu Sunu Snail Storm in the GardenSunu-sunu the snail is playing in the garden with his friends, the ants. Suddenly there is a storm. He ‘hurries’ home to his mother and tells her all he saw and heard.
Sunu Sunu
The Red Umbrella It’s raining. What happens when seven animals have to share one small umbrella?
Red Umbrella
Little Frog is about a frog who asks his mother when it will rain. When the sky is dark with clouds, his mother replies. Every day of the week, Little Frog looks up at the sky and awaits the rain. It is also a story about days of the week, things you can see in the sky, and other creatures
WhatsApp Image 2016-08-02 at 3.45.22 PM
Raindrops: From her window, little Anju sees familiar scenes of a rainy day – cloudy skies, umbrellas, puddles… Raindrops
Let’s Catch the Rain: The author plays with big monsoon clouds and the message is simple: rainwater is free, pure and precious, Let us save it.
If you are narrating to a 4+, you may add new Vocabulary and further details about how the clouds are formed with water and once the two clouds bump into each other, it rains. You can also talk about the magical rainbows.
You can connect the season with the festivals celebrated in that season and their significance. In this way, we connect the season with the celebrations associated with it. We can build seasonal stories as they grow. I have some lovely storybooks on Festival- Amma Tell Me Books
Grandparents and parents have their own version of stories related to the birth of Krishna, how he ate the sand, how he lifted the Govardhan hill with his fingertip. Children love to see all the preparations that take place during festivals.  Children of the Christian faith and Muslim faith love to see the rituals and preparations that are marked by Christmas or Eid respectively.
I have had the pleasure of seeing children bring these stories alive into their pretend play. This indicates the child is absorbing the stories and need not be questioned. I advise parents to watch and enjoy, but not interrupt to correct them. Observe children deepen their understanding in their play, conversations, and gestures. We may only awaken the little souls from the dreamy state by questioning their intellect.
Rhythms are integral to life and by narrating stories of rhythm and helping children observe them in their daily lives, we are imparting an important lesson gently. Children respond to this soothing cycles of rhythm by seeking their own and building their center of calm and quietude.