Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Rhythm and Flexibility by Beret Isaacson

Rhythm is, to me, a frame for our lives that is flexible when we need it to be. The stronger our rhythm, the healthier we are and the more energy we have for creative pursuits. While preparing to write this article I remembered something from my childhood. It was bedtime and my mother forgot me in the living room. I don't remember how old I was, definitely under five. I was the oldest of four children so perhaps she was focused on the baby. When I realized everything was quiet I reveled in my freedom. I positioned myself strategically behind my dad's big chair. I had some books that I was looking at. After some time passed I began to feel a little strange. I was certainly not going to move and give myself up for I wanted to see what would happen. I sat and sat until I was nearly hallucinating from exhaustion. When all was quiet upstairs my mother came down. I remember her surprised exclamation when she found me. She quickly made everything right in my small world. I am so thankful she didn't think I was developed enough to make my own choices regarding my daily rhythm. She knew just how to take care of me. Because of that I felt safe, secure and free to be the child I was.

When my oldest was in kindergarten at the Waldorf school in Tucson, his teacher spoke about rhythm. After hearing what she had to say, I asked, "So, rhythm builds health?" She answered emphatically, "Yes!" We had a really strong rhythm for our children, including a 7:00 bedtime until the oldest was in 5th grade, when it creeped to 7:30. Children need lots of rest to develop to their full potential. A clear daily rhythm helps children not to feel stressed out, wondering what is going to happen when. Rhythmical meal times and snacks are another great support for the growing child. My own personal rhythm is quite different from my children's. Because of my adult preference for variety, there were times when I was raising small children that keeping a steady rhythm for them was a little inconvenient, but doing things in a way that favored my children has made parenting easier for me. 

In KinderHouse this year, my new students are already familiar with the rhythm of our morning. We have snack, use the bathroom and then get ready to go outside. We have circle time, then take a hike and find a spot to play. Out in the woods, they know when story time is approaching. They know the whole order of business which makes them quite comfortable and my job of ushering them from one activity to the next very easy. Along with this familiar rhythm, every day is different. Different social play is engaged in and there are new ideas to explore. We have already been fishing, have ridden horses and motorcycles, lived on a bridge above some trolls and baked cakes out of mud. I love seeing the children feeling relaxed and confident and getting to see the beauty of who they are unfold. 

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