By Jennifer Deathe
Any Waldorf educator will say routine and rhythm are the foundations of a healthy and joyful early childhood program.
Building routine and rhythm at home can be The Key to a Successful Transition to Preschool or Kindergarten.
How to do so?
Families can build routine and rhythm by thinking about three daily happenings: meal times and morning and evening routines.
Children thrive with routine.
Lighting a candle at dinner time and offering a blessing or gratitude develops a sense of reverence and acts as a social cue to mark a transition.
The family meal is the perfect time to model care for others and practice appropriate conversation.
Inclusion is an important theme for children entering kindergarten; they need guidance on how to express themselves.
In Waldorf early childhood programs, snack and lunch are formal affairs with time for social learning.
What does your morning routine look like?
If you must depart by 7:30 am, work backward to build time for dressing and breakfast.
Practice the week before school begins, getting ready at the same time every morning and going for a walk.
Kim Payne, author of Simplicity Parenting, advises keeping a child’s closet simple, with only 3-5 outfits visible.
Children who like to choose their clothing can have a hard time deciding, so simplifying means less of a negotiating showdown.
If you had to focus on one routine only, choose bedtime.
The key to a successful day is how the night prior unfolded.
Sleep is imperative for a healthy life, because problems are worked out during the dream state.
Plus, information is stored and filed away for future reference.
Parents often run on less than 8 hours of sleep, requiring sleeping aids such as white noise, music or medication.
Many parents assume if they can skip nap, their children will have an easier time sleeping, and sleep more deeply.
Nap is a time when neural connections strengthen, cementing abilities acquired during the day.
The challenges parents face at night time may relate to the bedtime routine.
In her book, Heaven On Earth, Sharifa Oppenheimer suggests a warm bath to signal the transition from play to bedtime.
A water-conscious approach may feature a sink of warm water with lavender bubbles and a face cloth to wipe down.
After the bath, it’s straight to pyjamas.
As consistently as possible, prepare the same snack as part of the bedtime ritual.
For her own children, Sharifa provided warm milk and toast with honey, each of which have properties that act as a sedative.
By the time your child has brushed their teeth and climbed into bed for a story, they are well on their way to a deep sleep.
Read the same story for several nights, and only one.
Children love to hear stories repeated because it is reassuring.
They do not get bored in the way adults might.
Selectively choose stories that reflect character or morals that are meaningful to your family.
Screens are never a part of the bedtime routine because they act as a stimulant and contribute to poor sleeping habits.
Finally, take care of yourself.
Building a routine and a rhythm is not only for your child; it benefits every member of the family.
Jennifer Deathe is Admissions Manager at Waldorf Academy