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The Importance of Rhythm for Young Children and Families

As the carefree summer days turn to autumn, children return to school and our days naturally take on a more rhythmical flow. Oftentimes a more structured day comes out of necessity – packing lunches, getting children off to school, getting yourself off to work, etc… But have you ever considered the deeper importance of having a rhythm to your days, how it affects not only you but your children?


What Is Rhythm and Why Is It Important?

Often called a schedule or routine, in a Waldorf kindergarten is referred to as a rhythm. The rhythm of your day creates a roadmap for young children. It doesn’t need to be a rigid plan but brings structure to the day and sets expectations.


As adults, we often think that doing the same thing day in and day out is dull or boring but to a child, it provides safety and security as they know what to expect. In a Waldorf kindergarten, days follow the same rhythm and even have the same snack each week and daily chore (i.e. Monday is rice and laundry folding, Tuesday is porridge and vegetable chopping).


Perhaps most importantly, incorporating rhythm helps parents manage daily stress. Our children learn through imitating our behavior so, as with everything, we must first look inward and understand how do we model a daily rhythm? Are we constantly running from place to place? How much time are we spending on unnecessary things, like checking social media?


Some of the benefits of a daily rhythm for children may include:

  • Knowing what to expect, easing anxiety

  • Calmer transitions

  • Children’s needs of eating, sleep are met with fewer challenges, as you will begin to recognize their cues more easily.

  • Increased cooperation

  • Fewer tantrums


A daily rhythm will not only help your children, it will help the entire family. So permit yourself to simplify.


How to Create a Daily Rhythm

Perhaps you do not have a rhythm to your days, or perhaps your rhythm isn’t working. How do you go about creating a healthy daily rhythm for your family?


  1. Keep it simple. Don’t try to make too many changes at once.

  2. Start by creating consistent bedtime and mealtimes, incorporating rituals to signify what is to come (sleeping or eating). You may light a candle and say a blessing. Two simple mealtime blessings, which may be said or sung are:



Earth who gives to us this food,

Sun who makes it ripe and good,

Dear Sun, dear Earth, by you we live,

Our loving thanks to you we give.

Hold hands

Blessings on the meal, our family and our friends, and

Peace on the Earth


~


Earth (or God) we thank you for this food, For rest and home and all things good, For wind and rain and sun above, But most of all for those we love.

At bedtime, again you may light a candle and say a blessing or prayer:



Guardian Angels who we love Shine on us from up above And as I lay me down to sleep I pray the Lord my soul to keep And in the morning when I wake Show me the path of love to take

~


*for the parent to say with the child (after age 3)

From my head to my feet, I'm the image of God From my heart to my hands, His own breath do I feel. When I speak with my mouth I shall follow God's will When I see and know God In Father and Mother In all loving people, in beast and flower, in trees, plants, and stones, Then no fear shall I feel, only love then fills me for all that is around me.



  1. Try this for a few weeks and observe your children, and yourselves. Are transitions easier? Is there less resistance? Are your children more cooperative?


Rhythm is an essential anchor in our children’s daily lives which should not be overlooked. If you would like to learn more, here is a wonderful free resource by Kim John Payne, author of Simplicity Parenting: https://www.simplicityparentinginstitute.com/Rhythm-workshop


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