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Weekly rhythm

Aug 8, 2023 | planning, Rhythm, Tales and Trails

Weaving a blanket of comforting rhythms

Our summer skies seem to have been grey from the start, here in the UK. But despite the more unpredictable weather we’re experiencing, nature holds onto her rhythms as best she can.

 

And we internalise these soothing patterns from when we’re infant. We feel our mother’s heartbeat, and we also feel the heartbeat of the earth on its journey around the sun, at first just days and nights, days and nights, days and nights. And then as we grow, we delight in the turning of the seasons, and the rituals our families build around them.

 

We crave predictability and stability, especially when we’re small and have so little power over our world. Creating nurturing rhythms through the day, week, and year is a key tenet of Waldorf education in the early years, and something I’ve tried hard to weave into the fabric of our family over the last few years.

Weekly Rhythm in the Early Years

Little children need very simple rhythms. When my girls were little, I aimed for one or two set activities a day. The rest of the day other than mealtimes and naptimes would be spent playing either indoors or outdoors. If you’re still settling into a rhythm, I would suggest thinking through your week and identifying the days that you already have any commitments. Then look at the remaining days, and consider what activities you feel inspired to offer. Simple, open ended activities usually work best for young children, such as drawing, playdough or painting.

 

When my oldest was a toddler, I made a very simple set of Waldorf inspired cards for the week. I had a set of drawings depicting our typical activities which I bluetacked on to the relevant day’s card. I liked having the flexibility of being able to change the the activities around to different days to match any changes in our weekly routine. I still have those cards now and they match my youngest daughter’s weekly rhythm. We’ve also made a digital set that are ready for you to download! 

 

Download: Weekly Rhythm Cards for the Early Years

Ideas for activities in the home for children under 5 

    • Playing
    • Drawing
    • Painting
    • Gardening
    • Playdough
    • Bread making
    • Cleaning
    • Listening to and telling stories
    • Simple stitching or weaving for 4 year olds

Weekly Rhythm in the Elementary Years

As my oldest daughter has grown, and we are doing more formal learning, I’ve found a weekly rhythm to be just as important. We now have more out of the house commitments, so I try to keep the mornings free for more structured learning and the afternoons tend to be filled with co-ops, sports and playdates.

After experimenting with different ways of displaying the activities for the day, I’ve settled upon just writing them on the blackboard. I write a condensed list of our key learning activities, and any out of the house plans for the day. If your child hasn’t started reading yet, a set of pictures would be more helpful.

I keep a much more detailed list of our weekly rhythm in my planner, a little along the lines of “procedure lists” that I first read about on Pam Barnhill’s blog. My weekly rhythm pages are fairly detailed, containing sections for:

  • Core subjects
  • Subject of the day
  • Book basket
  • Invitations to play
  • Movement
  • Creative invitations
  • Cleaning focus
  • Meal planning

This frees up a lot of brain space and decision fatigue of what to plan or put out for each day. For example, on a Sunday night I look over the Monday page and quickly grab the books, games, and activities we’ll be using, plus get a head start on meal prep. I also set up a very simple invitation to play, according to what’s listed. It’s honestly saved me so much thinking time, or else helped things to happen. Otherwise, if I don’t get round to setting things up in advance, most of the time we end up not doing them at all. Here is a free blank printable version of my weekly rhythm sheets, with and without the headings I use.

DOWNLOAD : Free weekly rhythm sheets

I’ve found that very short lessons work the best for my eldest daughter, so we tend to do a little bit of quite a few things each day, including the weekends. I’ve also found that keeping our daily rhythm on the weekends has really helped with consistency, predictability and general desire to engage. As inspired by other homeschool mums (I can’t remember exactly who now – if it’s you let me know so I can credit you!), I’ve enjoyed being alliterative in my weekly rhythm! The graphic opposite shows the subject(s) we cover each day in addition to literacy and numeracy.

Many of these things are super easy for me to implement this year, as we are using Tales and Trails Curriculum which contains all the above subjects and more (e.g. we also do the artist study on Sundays)

What will your rhythm look like this year?

If you’re just getting started with planning your weekly rhythm for the year, the advice that really helped me was:

  • If in doubt, plan fewer subjects/activities to avoid feeling burnt out or demoralised
  • Start by incorporating just one thing and when that feels easy and automatic, then add another
  • Try out a rhythm for a few weeks without announcing it to your children, before you start to display it. That way you can make tweaks to things that aren’t working, without confusing your children.

     

    Finally, don’t be disheartened if your “ideal” rhythm doesn’t seem to be working out. The context is changing all the time: our little people are continuously growing with evolving needs and personalities; the seasons and weather can have a big impact on our motivations and pull us in new directions; other commitments such as family, work or unexpected situations will throw a spanner in the works every so often. It’s okay to pause, reflect and identify one or two things to try doing differently. Parenting and educating is a process, there is no fixed goal.

     

    Make sure you follow our Instagram and Facebook pages, where we’ll be posting more about our daily and seasonal rhythms soon. 

    Kindle your child’s spark for learning today

    Kindle your child’s spark for learning today