The landscape and rhythm of our lives could well be about to change dramatically over the coming months. Social distancing and self isolation are now commonplace phrases that appeared overnight into our vocabulary!
Many of us are finding that we will be at home with our children a lot more than we normally would. For some this is exciting times and for others a little daunting. If I can, I always like to find the positives in any situation. For now, time is slowing. For many of us this may be the first time since childhood. Make the most of this precious time you have been given together.
Looking for learning through play ideas? You might be interested in this blog post – Brilliant, Screen Free Play Ideas for being at Home.
Before having my daughter I was an early years and primary teacher and I want to assure you that if your children are going to be at home for a couple of weeks or more you do not need to replicate school. If you’re worried about how much ‘learning time’ there should be, check out this blog post. I’m not saying it’s 100% accurate, but having taught in schools I don’t disagree with most of what is said.
Being at home is different. Children are naturally inquisitive learners and will absorb so much from being at home with you. Learning through play isn’t just a catchy caption, it’s absolutely true. Children of all ages need to play, it’s how they make sense of the world, test out theories and solve problems. That being said, many of our children will be used to some form of routine from their settings and being able to give them and you some structure to your days will be beneficial for all.
Rhythm and Flow
Routines are often quite rigid. Times are allocated to them. It can feel quite restrictive and give you a sense of falling behind. In our home we adopt a more flowing idea of structure, a ‘rhythm’ inspired by Waldorf philosophy. Eloise Rickman, a prominent advocate of rhythm, peaceful parenting and home schooling spoke to the BBC yesterday on coping with self isolation together – you can find the article here. Well worth a read.
Putting in place a rhythm for your family during this time doesn’t need to be Pinterest worthy. It’s a flow of how your day will go, what it will look like and most importantly for children, what happens next in my day. If you already have set wake, bed, meal and snack points in a day you may want to have a more loose idea of a rhythm as these events are already anticipated. It could be that every Monday you will do baking, on Tuesdays you will go on a nature exploring session in the garden. These activities in a week help your children to know where they are. However, if on Monday no one wants to do baking that’s fine, change it to something else. Above is an example of a simple weekly rhythm.
You’ll notice if you search for rhythm that Waldorf inspired rhythms associated each day with a colour. Many choose to use these colours to depict each day on their rhythm charts. Do what you feel is right for you. We often go for a seasonal tone to ours or a rainbow.
If you don’t already have some of the food and rest points mapped into your child’s day then it may be useful to be much more intentional in your flow. Below shows a daily rhythm with key points of the day written down. Again, if things need to change that’s fine, just pick back up your flow when you can. Gradually, over time, this rhythm you live becomes invisible, woven into your being.
You’ll notice there are no times to this. It doesn’t matter if lunch is 12 or 1 or playing outdoors goes on much longer. However, after lunch, for us is rest time – whatever time lunch was. Just knowing what comes next is incredibly comforting to children normally, yet especially now in these unprecedented times.
Making your Rhythm
Getting your children involved in forming your rhythm will help them feel much more a part of the day. Very little ones could help with painting backgrounds while you draw pictures. Older children may be able to help you create the rhythm and even write/ draw/ type it up.
- First you’ll need some resources. You could type up your rhythm or draw/ write your rhythm down. Below are some background you can print off if you’re looking for inspiration. However, you could paint yourself a background together. We use Stockmar liquid watercolours or Tiny Land wood stains for our backgrounds.
- Next, think about the start of your day and the end. Are there tricky points in there such as teeth brushing. If so make sure to put them down. A big part of having a rhythm is forming good habits.
- Add in snacks and meal – these can have their own micro rhythms (such as helping to lay the table, washing hands, clearing away etc.)
- Then add in your intentional activities. If you are choosing to do some structured learning with your children add it on. It could be that during the day you need to get some work done. Add it on, ‘playtime – Mummy/ Daddy working’. For some children it may need to be a specific activity than just playtime such as playdough.
Get Them Involved
- Get children involved. What would they like to do in a day? In a week? A movie afternoon? Clay modelling? If they don’t readily have ideas, give them a list of ideas that they could choose from.
- Add it to your rhythm chart. It’s just for your home. It doesn’t need to be perfect.
- Try as much as possible to stick to your rhythm initially, this will help form gentle habits in your day and week. It’s surprising how quickly you get into the flow. If something really isn’t working change it. We often change our rhythm seasonally, or if there is a change that happens such as working days.
Share your Rhythm
We’d love to see your rhythms that you already have in place or ones you have done after reading this post. Do head over to our Yes Bebe Babble Facebook Group and share them there. It’s a lovely, friendly space where you can get lots of ideas for play and learning at home.
You may have heard other terms such as morning time and poetry tea time. These are more focused/ intentional times and each have their own little micro rhythms. If you’d like to know more about these or any other aspect leave a comment below or in the Babble group.
Did you know we have an ever increasing selection of books being added to the site? Over on the Yes Bebe Book Page we’re sharing lots of fabulous books with ideas of activities you can do and different questions you can ask your children.