Here’s part 5 of our “5 Elements in the Waldorf Kindergarten” series at Columbia’s City Garden School. We are so thrilled to share more about the five elements that make the Waldorf Kindergarten so special, and we believe that they contain ideas that parents can easily incorporate at home!
Consistent rhythms promote health, security, and trust. Having a consistent rhythm where one activity follows another provides children with security and eases anxiety caused by unpredictability. It can go a long way toward a more peaceful and less stressful classroom. We make a routine that is the same every day and gives the children rhythm.
The children go through the day in alternate periods of concentration and expansion, as if in a breathing rhythm where there is inhaling and exhaling. Bringing rhythm into the day means that children have a regular alternation between free play and guided activities in activities. Breathing-in activities are calm, like listening to a story or working quietly on a guided art project. Breathing-out activities are more lively, such as free play, running, or climbing.
Life in kindergarten is strongly marked by rhythm. Activities such as baking and crafts are repeated rhythmically as are the activities in weekly and annual rhythms. The course of the day is very important, with its alternation of free play and guidance as well as playing inside and outside.
The Rhythm of the Day
The predictability of knowing what comes next allows children to relax and be fully present in the moment. Rhythm is more than a schedule. It is both the order of events of the day as well as the feeling of transition and shifting followed by settling into an activity and then shifting again. There is a flexibility that is not governed solely by the clock.
Typically, the day begins with a greeting and free play as the children arrive. This is followed by meaningful artistic and purposeful work. The classroom is filled with activity, structured free play or preparation for the daily work. The children are participate in the artistic activity. Followed by another period of free play. Then, all assist in caring for the classroom, picking up or preparing the table for morning snack. The children gather on the round carpet for morning verse, movement-circle time and quiet candle time. The children transition to enjoying a shared healthy snack and then continue their learning through play time once more. All gather together again for a gratitude song and lunch. The children return to the carpet to quietly listen to a fairy tale or nature story, followed by rest time. Rest is followed by another verse and snack which the children help to prepare. Then, they clean up and move to free play and dismissal to parents or extended care.
The Rhythm of the Week
The characteristics of each day can be honored and demonstrated through group activities with the children and through meaningful food choices. Weekly rhythm creates predictability: The child anticipates “painting day,” “bread-making day” or “oatmeal day.” These activities change with the seasons, reflecting the rhythm inherent in the natural world.
(Moon) is the soft day of water. Clean the classroom using water, do watercolor painting and water activities outside. Rice is the grain of the day and different types of rice can be prepared in a variety of ways.
(Mars) is the very energetic day of strength, courage and physical activity. Tuesday is a day for modeling with beeswax and clay, folding clothes, dusting the classroom, and working in the garden. Barley is a good grain for the day. Theater or performing arts activities are full of strength and courage-building.
(Mercury) is the day of movement, transformation and flexibility. Working with textiles in various ways demonstrates the themes: modeling felt, sewing, dyeing wool and fabrics, and repairing toys. Millet can be served on this day. Eurythmy, the movement and flexibility practice, or yoga are a good practice on Wednesdays.
(Jupiter) is the day of wisdom and generosity. That makes it the perfect cooking and baking day. When the children bake their own bread with adults assisting and cook marmalades, jams, and spreads, they can share with eachother and the broader school. Rye is can be grain of the day. Songs in a foreign language enhance the experience of the day.
(Venus) is the day of life’s beauty. Fridays are good days to be outdoors for the majority of the day. Children have ample time to be in the woods and enjoy playtime as well as guided walks to a specific area to hear a nature story or folktale. Oat is an optimal grain of the day.
The Rhythm of the Year
Rhythm and repetition are essential foundations of the educational approach in our school. The children are actively engaged in preparing for a festival which highlights each season.
Thanks to a broad cultural population among the families at our school we can incorporate many different traditions into our festivals. There are many festivals that we celebrate every year and some that the school incorporates in some years and not others.
- Spring and Summer Festivals
Easter and Passover
May Day and Maypole Festival
Fire Festival/ Summer Solstice
- Fall Festivals and Celebrations
Dia de Los Muertos
- Winter Festivals
- Other Events
Every child’s birthday is a festive day. This day is prepared by the parents, the children and the teachers. Often a very magical expectation is associated with it since with each birthday a new phase in life begins. On this special day, the child is honored and celebrated in our school with special customs such as a particular food the child enjoys, a crown, and a special birthday song.
Stay tuned for more Waldorf Kindergarten blog posts as the school year goes by and we move along with the seasons. If you missed the previous parts of this series, you can find them here!
Part 1 of “5 Elements in the Waldorf Kindergarten”
Part 2 of “5 Elements in the Waldorf Kindergarten”
Part 3 of “5 Elements in the Waldorf Kindergarten”