Ask any Waldorf educator and they will tell you that routine and rhythm are the foundations of a healthy and joyful early childhood program. By following these two principles you can ensure your child is set up for a much smoother transition to preschool and kindergarten. It really only requires that families think about three things that happen every day; mealtimes and your morning and evening routines.
Children thrive with routine. Consider lighting a candle at dinner time and begin with a blessing or gratitude. Not only will this develop a sense of reverence, it acts as a social cue to mark a transition. The family meal is also the perfect time to model care for others and practicing appropriate conversation. Inclusion is an important theme for the child entering kindergarten and they will need guidance on how to express themselves. In the Waldorf early childhood programs snack and lunch are formal affairs and offer time for social learning.
Consider what your morning routine is going to look like. If you have to depart your home by 7:30 am then how much time does your child need to get dressed and have breakfast. Practice the week before school getting ready at the same time every morning and going out for a walk. Kim Payne, the author of Simplicity Parenting, advises parents to keep their child’s closet simple with only 3-5 outfits visible. If you have a child who likes to select what they wear but can have hard time choosing here is an opportunity to keep it simple and less of a negotiating showdown.
If you had to focus on one area only, choose your child’s bedtime routine. The key to a successful day is not how the morning went but the night before. Sleep is imperative for a healthy life, because in the dream state problems are worked out, information is stored and filed away for future reference. As parents we are often running on far less than 8 hours of sleep having to resort to sleeping aids such as white noise, music and sleeping medication. Many parents also assume that if they can skip nap their child will have much easier time to get to sleep and in fact have a deeper sleep. Instead of assuming your child is getting enough sleep it may be helpful to reflect upon your nighttime routine. Nap is the time when neural connections are strengthened, thus cementing abilities acquired during the day. The challenges parents face at night time may have more to do with the bedtime routine.
Waldorf educator, Sharifa Oppenheimer, in her book, Heaven On Earth, suggests a warm bath to signal the transition from play to the bedtime routine. A water conscious approach may be a sink of warm water with lavender bubbles and a face cloth to wipe down. Once your child is out of the bath have them get into their pyjamas right away. As consistently as possible prepare the same snack as part of the bedtime ritual. For her own children Sharifa provided warm milk and toast with honey, each of which have properties that act as a sedative. Of course every family will select their own dietary appropriate snack. By the time your child has brushed their teeth and jumped into bed for a story they are well on their way to a deep sleep. Read the same story for several nights and only one. Children love to hear stories repeated because it reassures them and do not get bored in the way we do as adults. Selectively choose your stories to reflect character or morals that are meaningful to you. Screens are never a part of the bedtime routine because they act as a stimulant and contribute to poor sleeping habits and dependencies.
Lastly, take care of yourself. As Waldorf early educators we are not here to judge parents but to support parents as they navigate their way through parenting.
Written by Jennifer Deathe, Admissions Manager
First Published: : https://totsfamily.com/routine-and-rhythm