The Benefits of Regular Rhythms in the Curriculum
In both Waldorf Kindergartens and Elementary classrooms there is a strong recognition of the benefits of rhythm - daily rhythms, weekly rhythms, seasonal rhythms, and developmental rhythms. The founder of Waldorf Education Rudolf Steiner's greatest gift to humanity was his recognition of archetypal patterns that appear and repeat themselves all throughout the natural world - in the cycles of the cosmos, the plant cycles, the tidal cycles, fertility cycles, sleep cycles and other more subtle rhythms or cycles that repeat themselves in the life of everything within and around us. In other words, Spirit manifests both within the human psyche and organism and outside of it in the substances of the kingdoms of nature. The more the young child experiences these interconnected rhythms the more we nurture their subconscious needs and thereby bring them into a comfortable awareness and balance with the world around them.
The Weekly Rhythm of the Kindergarten
We adhere dearly to our daily and weekly rhythms in the Kindergarten. Much thought goes into each and every activity we participate in - why and when. Each part of the day and each day of the week, has specific qualities that, if recognized, can be used to enhance the child's well being and learning capacity.
Establishing Rhythms: One of the primary tasks of the growing child, of parents and early child educators is to bring the child’s nerve-sense system (brain, sense organs & central nervous system), metabolic-limb system (digestion, elimination, and reproductive organs and limbs), and rhythmic system (heart and lungs) into a healthy working balance. We support this development by establishing regular, predictable rhythms in conjunction with the natural rhythms of day and night, the days of the week, the moon’s monthly cycle and the four seasons through daily, weekly and yearly schedules which we celebrate through story, song, dance, games, crafts, food and festivals. We also establish a “breathing” rhythm to our day by moving between outward, more physical activities (such as free play) and quieter, more inward activities (such as story time). Just as we become uncomfortable if required to hold our breath in too long or are kept from taking a breath in when we need to, the young child finds the greatest amount of ease and comfort if their activities reproduce balanced, steady in breaths and out breaths. Following familiar rhythms also benefits young children emotionally as it provides stability and continuity in a world which is still unfamiliar to them. The development of the internal and external body with rhythm is why being part of this class for several years is especially beneficial to the student.