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“Rhythm of the Day” in a Waldorf Kindergarten

Waldorf-kindergarten

As part of SimpleHomeschool’s ”A Day in the Life” series, I have contributed another guest post which appears today: “A Day in the Life of a Waldorf Kindergarten.”  I describe the “Rhythm of the Day” in a Waldorf kindergarten classroom. Or more specifically, a day in my Waldorf classroom. The picture I give is of a typical “Soup Day,” as the children would fondly refer to Tuesday.

Cooking in a Waldorf Kindergarten

© Sarah Baldwin

Names of the days of the week are a meaningless abstraction for young children, but the children in my class knew that Rice Day was always followed by Soup Day, and then in turn comes Bread Day, Millet Day and Oatmeal Day.

The children also knew that on Rice Day we painted, on Soup Day we chopped vegetables, on Bread Day we kneaded dough, on Millet Day we colored with beeswax crayons, and on Fridays we polished and cleaned our classroom. It was all part of the “Rhythm of the Week.”

Seasonally, the children would experience the “Rhythm of the Year” by preparing for and celebrating the festivals of the year—Michaelmas in September, All Hallow’s Eve, Martinmas, Advent, St. Nicholas Day, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Easter, and May Day. Festivals are a much more meaningful way for a child to mark the passage of a year than dates on a calendar.

Waldorf May Day Festival

© Sarah Baldwin

As human beings, we are creatures of rhythm—from the moment we are born, our hearts beat, our blood pulses, and our lungs beat to a steady rhythm. We give children a gift and nourish their healthy development by being mindful of a young child’s need for rhythm, and offering them consistency, and the comfort of knowing what comes next, as we move through our days, weeks, and years together with them.

How do you find ways to honor the rhythm of the days, weeks and years with your children? Do you find it challenging to be consistent? Please share your suggestions and struggles!

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13 Comments

  • Reply sheila February 4, 2011 at 10:29 am

    Wow what a wonderful day. Lucky, lucky blessed children. Thanks for sharing. I am printing this out to keep in my kindergarten file as something to strive toward.

    • Reply Sarah Baldwin February 4, 2011 at 4:50 pm

      And lucky blessed teacher! The children and the rhythm of our mornings enriched me so much. While I love what I’m doing now, writing the piece for SimpleHomeschool made me very wistful for being in the classroom.

  • Reply Laura February 4, 2011 at 3:57 pm

    While preparing to open a Waldorf inspired child care program, one piece of advice stuck out for for me regarding rhythm, and I have since heard others mention the same idea. That is following the rhythm of the breath throughout the day, allowing for activities reflective of the inhale (bigger more physical activities) balanced with those more in line with an exhale (smaller, softer, more quiet activities). This helped me tremendously. The lull and the lilt, the up and the down, the in and the out…

    Warmly,
    Laura

  • Reply Sarah Baldwin February 4, 2011 at 4:48 pm

    Yes, Laura! As Waldorf teachers we always strive to have a breathing quality to the day. Again, rhythm. That is that certain activities, like free play, have the quality of an exhalation or “out breath,” while other activities, like story time, have an “in breath” quality.

    In planning the rhythm of our mornings, we try to alternate “in-breathing” activities with “out-breathing activities.” In the example of my kindergarten morning, free play (out breath) was followed by circle time and rest time (in breath), followed by outdoor play (out breath) followed by story time (in breath).

    You get the idea!

  • Reply Leigh February 6, 2011 at 2:03 pm

    I’ve been teaching an early childhood Hebrew School program (once a week, younger kids even less) I’ve been trying to “do” Waldorf ideas, but am finding it difficult in a school setting that is not everyday. I would love some inspiration, and perhaps some places to look for Jewish Waldorf experiences to give myself some inspiration.

  • Reply Sarah Baldwin February 6, 2011 at 9:23 pm

    Leigh, here’s a link to the Harduf Waldorf School and Kibbutz in Israel. Perhaps it would be a good place to start: http://www.kamah.org.il/eng/kibutz.asp

  • Reply Tiffanie February 13, 2011 at 12:04 pm

    Oh, I absolutely love this. It feels so good. I am a big fan of Waldorf ideas, and you bring it into the tangible. The photos of the room just feel so warm, soft, and gentle. I think definitely much of my little-girl-self feels nurtured and held in implementing this in my own home. Ahhh. Thank you.

    • Reply Sarah February 25, 2011 at 2:17 pm

      Thanks, Tiffanie. When I stepped into a Waldorf kindergarten classroom for the very first time, it inspired the very feelings that you describe.

      I knew then and there that I wanted to become a Waldorf teacher, and later came to realize how much my little girl self (who grew up in a very different environment) needed the healing that this kind of environment provides.
      Sarah recently posted..“Rhythm of the Day” in a Waldorf Kindergarten

  • Reply Amy February 25, 2011 at 8:34 pm

    I really appreciated your guest post and gained a lot from it. My girls won’t get to attend a Waldorf school but I take what I can to provide it at home now and in the future, so thank you for sharing your experiences and insight. Also, the classroom is so beautiful, a great inspiration!

  • Reply Nic March 23, 2011 at 2:25 am

    Hi Sarah,
    I am brand spanking new to the homeschooling journey with my 2nd child, and am leaning heavily toward Steiner influence with him. This post has given me such inspiration, thank you!
    I definitely have consistency issues, so tuning into our rhythms will be great for me as well. : )
    Nic recently posted..design issues

    • Reply Sarah Baldwin April 8, 2011 at 11:00 pm

      No matter what method of homeschooling you choose, Nic, bringing consistent rhythm to your day will greatly benefit you and your children. Blessings on your homeschooling journey!

  • Reply Sarah April 15, 2011 at 9:27 am

    As a parent of teens, I feel that what I learned about Waldorf Early Childhood applies in many ways to early adolescence. Keeping a good rhythm is a life-long skill!
    Sarah recently posted..Spring Concert

  • Reply Martha September 21, 2013 at 5:08 pm

    I just stumbled onto your blog and have been reading all of your posts! I am wondering if you can recommend books for helping establish the Rhythm of the Day?

    Also, your photos of your classroom are beautiful. I love the pine wood. How warm!

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