Suggested blogs The Six-Year Transformation: Discovering Waldorf Five Frequently Asked Questions About Waldorf Education The Role of Nutrition in Brain Development: The Golden Opportunity of the “First 1000 Days” Class Six Curriculum Overview
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Interview made to Miss Petersen, Main Grades Educator in Trinus.
How do you engage your students in social studies lessons?
It depends on the age of the students. Currently I am teaching grade 6 and a big way of engaging them is through discussions- By asking and listening to their opinions of the content that was brought.
We do debates where children have to back up their opinions with reasons e.g. I divided the class into 2 teams: Spartans and Athenians; then each had to argue why their way of life was the best way.
Encouraging them to ask questions
Helping them see how EVERYTHING IS CONNECTED
In geography I always try to connect it to the children’s country e.g. “the population is 4 times bigger than that of Guatemala” This is a great way to help them connect and engage with content
Lots of artistic work: drawings, Maps, acting out the Greek myths, songs, poems, even making forms out of clay etc
Lots of humor and jokes
Stories which stir emotional reactions AS MANY EMOTIONS as possible
How do you apply real-world relevancy to the lessons?
Connecting content to the children’s own country; making comparisons with things the children know and see in their environment
Connecting to BIG WORLD news stories e.g. while learning Greece we could link that to the olympics being cancelled because of the pandemic
By making a BIG deal of how something that happened long ago still affects us today e.g. “the Olympic event Marathon is called this because it’s the distance ran….. “ I get very excited when I point things like this out to the children, I act like it’s so cool as if I’m hearing this for the first time like them. This makes history alive and current for children, to hear and learn things like this
By letting them ASK QUESTIONS
By having experts come in where possible to discuss this in greater detail, to share more knowledge and answer questions
What examples do you have of incorporating the arts into social studies lessons?
Map drawing as an art- where possible we draw maps freehand
Paintings- painting a desert landscape or Greek fleet sailing for Persia
Clay modeling: we made monsters from Greek myths
Drama-acting out stories
Recitation- learning poems
Singing- learning songs from a culture
Writing- even this can be artistic work which we create together, the Athenians valued the power of speech
Poetry- writing poetry e.g. an ode to the river, learning poetry from that era
What strategies do you use to create learning experiences that activate students’ prior knowledge?
Before I start a social studies block I always ask children to tell me something they already know about the topic, or I give them a blank map to fill places in. Then at the end we review this and there is that cool moment when they see how much MORE they know now
I ask specific guiding questions to relate it to something they have already seen
Ask “can anyone think what this is connected to?”
Encourage them to make predictions of what COULD happen so they can open to thinking in this cause and effect way which is ESSENTIAL IN THE SOCIAL STUDIES
Fun pop Class quiz to see who remembers
Giving students time to think
Encourage them to ask questions!
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Written by Gabriela de Erichsen, Trinus Mom and Partner
6 minute read
Since March, Guatemala and the whole world has been facing an uncertain situation through this pandemia. This situation has affected not only the economical area but also the emotional wellbeing of all humankind. It is very important for us parents to be strong for our kids. We have to keep in mind that everything has also changed for them. We are all struggling with uncertainty and hopelessness. As parents, if we break, our kids will break too.
Here you can find the entire talk and the highlight of Ms. Petersen´s talk. There is so much wisdom shared and amazing tips for us parents to keep in mind to build resilience in our children.
What is resilience?
Merriam webster defines resilience as:
- The capability of a strained body to recover its size and shape after deformation caused especially by compressive stress .
- An ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change.
My journey through this pandemic has been one of constantly having to bounce back and it’s not easy! Bounce back from disappointment, having to totally change the way I do my work, not going home- this is now the longest I have gone without seeing my family, friends – Cape Town my City.
In her book “The gifts of Imperfection”, Brene Brown speaks of cultivating a resilient spirit as one of the guideposts for wholehearted living. So I decided to work backwards from these things resilient people DO to explore how we can help our children learn to be resilient so they can do the things resilient people do.
She identified 5 of the most common factors of resilient people:
- They are resourceful and have good problem solving skills
- They are more likely to seek help
- They hold the belief that they can do something that will help them manage their feelings and to cope
- They have social support available to them
- They are connected with others such as family and friends
I think the biggest lesson we need to learn and teach in regards to resilience is that the only way is through. We cannot avoid it, we cannot escape it…. So how can we help each other through?
One thing that comforts me is that children learn and adapt more quickly than us adults!! They are more flexible and resilient than us. They adapt quicker.
There is no step by step on how to guide when it comes to cultivating capacities. Resilience is a skill, a feeling, a confidence, a trust in oneself and in life.
Resilience comes from solving problems, going through situations, it’s not in your head it’s from or out of what you do.
In my opinion FAMILY is what is going to teach our children resilience in this moment. And that’s wonderful because we can help all of us get stronger through this. Our children are our mirror! So if we are constantly criticizing, being negative, complaining, they will learn to do what we do.
Practical tips to keep in mind
- Spirituality – knowing, trusting believing there is something bigger than ourselves.
- Gratitude practice
- Awareness- checking on loved ones, family conversations and sharing.
- Being aware of nature and beauty
- Worry jar
- Talking about the good and bad AGE APPROPRIATE! We cannot tell a 4 year old that thousands of people are dying of COVID and expect them to deal with that. But you can say “I also feel sad that we can’t go visit grandma today, it makes me want to cry too.”
- Make a point of acknowledging when someone solved a problem no matter how big or small, ESPECIALLY WHEN THEY CLEAN UP A MESS! So that becomes part of their vocabulary- I made a mess and I clean it up
- Let them see our mistakes
- Apologize when you are wrong
- How to express feelings? Because we have to go through: what color do you feel today? What animal? What color is angry? Older ones: draw, speak, write, exercise. What can we do to feel the feeling and then what helps us transform that?
The bad news: Our children learn through US! So immediately we need to know that we cannot teach them anything that we are not. So, from now on I want you to be thinking about how resilient are you? I want you to start thinking about how you can grow your resilience, because that will be the most powerful gift you can give your children.
What are we going to do?
I personally loved how Ms. Pettersen´s ended the talk by saying, “the ball is on our court now, what are we going to do with it?”
And remember, we all go through dark times. And what gets us through is hoping and praying for that light at the end of the tunnel. And that light at the end of the tunnel is our presence now, having life, health and being able to wake up every morning and having our loved ones near and safe.
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Written by Miss Petersen, Main Grades Educador in Trinus
As a Waldorf educator, if someone had said to me back in February 2020 that I would be finishing the current academic year and BEGINNING the following year with online distance learning- I would have immediately dismissed that as absolutely ridiculous. Yet here we are…. Ready to begin with our Trinus Distance Learning Program, unsure of when we will be returning to our classrooms.
All the schools across the country (and the world) have implemented various strategies and ways of running their online programs. At Trinus, we have tried to design our Trinus Distance Learning Program in such a way that it upholds our vision, our core values and our commitment to the Waldorf pedagogy.
One of the key differences between the Waldorf system and mainstream education systems is the emphasis that is placed on the connection that exists between the child and the educator. Classrooms are imbued with warmth and love as children learn and develop healthily when they feel safe. Educators shake each child’s hand every morning and that physical contact and looking into the child’s eyes tells the educator a lot about how that child is starting the day. Child observation is practiced throughout the day as much is revealed in a child’s movements, posture, drawings, gestures, mood and body.
At the center of our Trinus Distance Learning Program is daily zoom lessons with the educators. This is the closest one can get to keeping the warmth, connection and classroom community alive in a virtual platform.
One could say that pre recorded videos are one sided (or dead) in TWO ways: Firstly, the educator is recording content into a camera. She is not teaching and looking into her children’s faces; she is probably focused on staying within the time limit and not saying the wrong thing from her “script”. Secondly, the children are then just watching their educator on a screen, not actively participating in a lesson because they are unable to change or influence what is about to happen. They are watching something that is happening in front of them- same as when they are watching television.
When a educator meets her children through Live virtual sessions, two TOTALLY DIFFERENT experiences are created: The educator gets to see who she is teaching, which means she can focus on the children and respond to their needs. And children get to see their educator; they are expected to participate by answering questions and they can share their thoughts/opinions and shape what is unfolding. And this is where magic can STILL happen even in an online learning space.
Pre recorded lessons, in a sense, ask nothing of the children. They don’t even have to really pay attention because they could always pause, stop or rewind. In a platform like zoom, lessons have the possibility to be alive. As it is happening in real time, children are called to pay attention, participate and connect with the content.
Pre Recorded lessons are also isolating as a child is kept in their house just watching something on a screen. Live virtual lessons take children out of their houses and into the homes of their friends and their educators. Seeing everyone together is a powerful way of showing the connection that we still have even though we are not physically together. This connection and sense of community is now more important than ever before! It keeps our children open to the world and to their friends. I have seen first hand the deep excitement, love and relief that happens when children see each other.
Of course learning and teaching young children in an online platform is not ideal, but that doesn’t mean we cannot make it work. It does not mean that we cannot make it as healthy as possible for our children.
As this pandemic has carried on longer than we ever imagined, it is important that the live virtual lesson is treasured and nurtured as a way we keep our children CONNECTED. Connected to their learning. Connected to their classroom community. Connected to the Trinus community. Connected to the outside.
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Reading time: 3 minutes
In Trinus our children learn the multiplication tables by moving and clapping, by stepping in a rhythmical way. We integrate music in all the subjects, it is not treated as a separate subject. This benefits all children but particularly children with dyslexia. In the following article written by Sarah Knapton, she mentions how rhymes and music can help overcome dyslexia.
Children can overcome dyslexia by learning nursery rhymes, dancing and singing because the condition is caused by lack of rhythm in brain, a leading neuroscientist has suggested.
Usha Goswami, professor of Cognitive Developmental Neuroscience at Cambridge has spent the last 10 years testing the brains of youngsters to find out what was driving the learning problem.
She found that the dyslexia is not caused by children reading words incorrectly, but instead their inability to hear the rhythm of words when they are being spoken.
Brain scans shown that the metre of words was out of phase with internal rhythms in brain, meaning that youngsters struggled to encode the patterns, and therefore memorise speech.
But keeping up rhythmic practice will eventually allow children to read properly.
“Children who are dyslexic struggle with speech rhythm,” Prof Goswami told The Hay Festival.
“We realised that children are struggling in tasks which are not related to learning or reading but are related to rhythm. So we began to think that rhythm and these problems found in children with dyslexia might be related.”
Dyslexia is thought to be one of the most common learning difficulties. It’s estimated that up to 1 in every 10 people in the UK has a certain degree of dyslexia and Britain has one of the worst rates because the language is so difficult to learn.
Prof Goswami recommended clapping games, music, nursery rhymes and marching to The Grand Old Duke of York. “All kinds of rhythmic experiences can be helpful, nursery rhymes, dancing and music as long as the beat is matched to language,” she said. “Playground clapping and games may be very important to stopping dyslexia. You could start to remediate it before children even start school.
“If children keep it up they will learn to read. It will definitely happen. The brain just needs more training. These children need to know that their brain just works a bit differently and reading is going to be harder for them.”
Picture by Melbourne Rudolf Steiner
Usha Goswami is a researcher and professor of Cognitive Developmental Neuroscience at the University of Cambridge and the director of the Centre for Neuroscience in Education at St. John’s College, Cambridge. She obtained her Ph.D. in developmental psychology from the University of Oxford before becoming a professor of cognitive developmental psychology at the University College London. Goswami’s work is primarily in educational neuroscience with major focuses on reading development and developmental dyslexia. Some of her current research projects include the neural basis of developmental dyslexia, the neural basis of speech and language impairments, and the neural basis of rhythmic motor behavior.
Dr. Goswami’s research is concerned with focusing on dyslexia as a language disorder rather than a visual disorder as she has found that the way that children with dyslexia hear language is slightly different than others. When sound waves approach the brain, they vary in pressure depending on the syllables within the words being spoken creating a rhythm. When these signals reach the brain they are lined up with speech rhythms and this process doesn’t work properly in those with dyslexia.
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Written by Julie Moon, Trinus educator
As Ingun Schneider remarks in her article “Supporting the development of the hand,” many children today are using their hands almost exclusively to manipulate electronic devices such as computer mouse, and are increasingly unable to hold a pen/pencil with any confidence or skill. Traditional craft skills such as knitting, are not widely practiced. The consequences for this are alarming. A great deal of research is published today which makes a clear case for the link between ‘nimble fingers, nimble minds’- that is, the relationship between healthy neurological development and the engagement of the fingers in fine motor activities. The more we take into account that intellect develops from the movements of the limbs, from dexterity and skills, the better it will be (Rudolf Steiner, The Renewal of Education).
Working with this picture of human development- that thinking grows out of movement and dexterous skills developed through activities such as craft- Waldorf educators work to bring craft throughout the curriculum. Our craft work includes knitting, weaving, sewing, and woodwork.
The brain discovers what the fingers explore. The density of nerve endings in our fingertips is enormous. If we don’t use our fingers, if in childhood and youth, we become finger-blind, this rich network of nerves is impoverished – which represents a huge loss to the brain and thwarts the individual’s all-around development.
If we neglect to develop and train our children’s fingers and the creative form-building capacity of their hand muscles, then we neglect to develop their understanding of the unity of things; we thwart their aesthetic and creative powers. Today Western civilization, an information-obsessed society that overvalues science and undervalues true worth, has forgotten this (Matti Bergstrom, professor and neurophysiologist).
Recent neurological research tends to confirm that mobility and dexterity in fine motor muscles, especially in the hand, may stimulate cellular development in the brain, and so strengthen the physical instrument of thinking.
Craft begins in the early years with the children consciously using their hands, and refining the movements of their fingers – improving fine motor skills. Finger knitting is the beginning of the knitting curriculum; sewing is refined year-by-year (Margaret Skerry – former teacher at Sophia Mundi school).
The crafts of ancient peoples were part of everyday life and they were made with a disciplined attention to detail, loving care and artistry. Joy seemed to be in the making and our children also find joy, challenges and a sense of achievement in their craft lessons!
Sometimes we might get the sense that crafts are a waste of time and will like to see our child more involved in information involved activities but we have to keep in mind the amazing neurological impact that it has in our child.
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If you teach your child the math concepts with things they are familiar with it will be easier for them to understand it. We want to provide you with a story to tell your child and to make it live together. All you will need is two empty jars, a Sharpe and beans. Ready?
Martin and Carolina went to the store and they both took an empty jar.
(Measure the jar, divided it into three, and place two marks with a Sharpe in the jar to make the three parts visual for your child)
They each filled one-third of their jar with beans.
(Fill the jars up to the first mark)
Martin had a great idea to put his beans in Carolina´s jar so they could share what they had.
How many thirds do they have together?
Be creative! And find moments in your child´s day to day activities where he/she makes use of fractions. The more children live what they are learning, the easier it becomes for them to learn it.
Let´s make their learning meaningful!
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How do you introduce your children to fractions? To do so, we will begin with a story. Please grab an apple, a knife, and tell your children the following story. Ask him/her to cut the apple as the story evolves. Helpful tip, I encourage you to change the names of the children in the story to the names of friends of your child. Have a pen and paper to write down the name of his friends so he/she can distribute the pieces between his friends.
The story was taken from the book The Teaching of Arithmetic and the Waldorf School Plan by Hermann von Baravalle, Ph.D
Picture from Hometown Harvest.
Have an Apple!
Melinda came to school with an apple. She was just about to eat it when Christopher arrived and saw it. She wouldn´t keep it all to herself so she cut it into two pieces and gave half of the apple to Christopher. Just then Jeanne and Ralph came in. Melinda and Christopher cut their halves in half. At that time the apple was in 4 pieces. Each person had one fourth. Before they could eat the fourths, Donald, Lisa, John, and Linda came in. Now the fourths were cut in two and there were eight pieces for eight children. The apple had been divided into eighths that were about to be gobbled up when Claude, Francis, Erich, Olivia, Miriam, Max, Michaela, and Hilary bust into the room. Now they had to cut each of the eight pieces of apple in two, to make sixteen pieces, very tiny, each piece being one-sixteenth of the apple. They were all so small.
Before, there was one piece. Now there were sixteen pieces; but though 16 is larger number than 1, each piece was smaller, by far, than the 1 apple.
We started with one apple. To share it, we cut it into 2 equal pieces.
Each piece is one half of the apple. As the 2 halves of the apple make one whole, they are related to the whole by the number 2 but we have to allow that 1 is divided into 2 pieces.
What would be a good way to show that in writing? We can use the knife-cut line as a divider line and if we write it, it could read «1 divided by 2» or «one half».
Now you are ready to teach your child how to add fractions!
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We know the importance of having a daily rhythm especially in this circumstance that we need to stay at home. Today is the day you will get your daily rhythm created and mapped out! We are going to help you. We are sharing with you this article that you will find great ideas and tips on how to create your daily rhythm.
Excerpt from Save your Homeschooling day document written by Jean from Waldorf Homeschool Simplify .
Waldorf –Inspired Learning.
In this guide, I’ll walk you through 2 simple steps to help you. Plus, I’ll share some great visuals with you for creating your own rhythm chart! The answer is to start with the basics of rhythm and build from there. And in this guide, I’m going to show you how that’s done so you can start small and grow as you go.
“Have fun with rhythm because rhythm is your friend”, Jean
What is Rhythm? Rhythm is simply your daily routine of what you do first, and then next, and then next. I’m going to help you discover your own rhythm to provide a structure for your days so that your children can feel secure in knowing what to expect. This actually makes daily life with children easier for everyone – you and your children!
With a sense of rhythm, you can move throughout your day with alternating activities of inward focus and outward focus, much like the rhythm of breathing, inhaling and exhaling. So a pattern is established. And then repeated.
Rhythm is more about sequencing and grouping activities than it is about a schedule with time slots.
Why Daily Rhythm?
It is important to build patterns and routines, before planning, customizing, and implementing the activities.
Rhythm is natural, Do you struggle with rhythm? Or have a resistance to it? Here is a great place to begin – with an image of how the naturally occurring rhythms within us connect with the naturally occurring rhythms all around us.
Picture a warm, glowing heart in your mind. It represents love but it also represents the rhythm of your heartbeat.
Rhythm is “a strong, regular, repeated pattern of movement or sound.” Steady rhythm can be a steady beat, recurring sound, or a repetitive activity. We can think of not only our heartbeat, but also our breath, in and out. These are the natural rhythms that live inside our bodies. We can also observe external rhythms. There is the rhythm of day and night, the rhythm of the days of the week, the rhythm of the months, and the rhythm of the seasons.
All of these rhythms are part of our lives. Their repetition brings us comfort because they are regular and expected. Rhythm provides an anchor and especially helps children, who have little control over their environments, to feel secure.
Steiner even said that “Rhythm can take the place of strength and will.” Rhythm is the reason why Rudolf Steiner suggested warming up at the start of our lessons with verse recitation, speech exercises, or singing. He even began each of his lectures to the very first Waldorf teachers-in-training with speech exercises and verse recitation to help regulate everyone’s breathing, their natural in breath and out breath their internal, natural rhythm. He reasoned that this practice teaches us flexibility and helps to ground us in the present moment. That’s what a strong rhythm can do.
AS YOU EXPLORE RHYTHM…
A word to the wise as you develop your own rhythm: Be yourself. Be authentic. Waldorf Rhythm is not about doing what you’re supposed to do, doing what I suggest you do, doing what other mamas are doing on Instagram…
This process of laying the foundation for your daily and weekly rhythm is about you and your family. Stay connected to your own unique life and do what is best for you, no one else. Courage comes from being willing to be who you are! Don’t wait until you’re confident to show up. You have everything you need right now and can show up just as you are. Now let’s dive in!
2 Steps to create your Daily Rhythm
Step One: Design a Daily Rhythm that Works for You
Now it’s time to create your daily rhythm! Start by thinking of the rhythm of the week, where each weekday has a different flavor and often different activities. Like pizza on Saturday nights, or errands and grocery shopping on Thursday afternoons after lunch. These are activities that we do regularly and repeatedly. They are not necessarily assigned a particular time, but more of a general time slot or relationship to another activity. While some activities might vary day to day, there are other activities that you repeat daily.
Think about what you do each and every day. Start by making a list of your daily activities from the time you wake up until you go to sleep at night. Include chores, mealtimes, rest times, and bedtime – plus lessons and activities.
Be gentle with yourself and breathe into your daily rhythm. No need to include the exact time unless you want to. Just start with Wake Up and end with Bedtime. Add in Meal Times, Lesson Time, and Rest Time, and you have your basic structure. These provide anchor points or pillars in your day that form the basis of your rhythm. On the next page are a few time chunks in your day to reflect on as you craft your daily rhythm.
What do you need to do before your children get up and ready for the day? Even just 15 minutes to yourself to listen to a meditation, recite a verse by heart, light a candle, or sit quietly can nourish you before the day begins.
Make a list of what you and your children will do together. On this list, you can include breakfast, chore time, circle time, lesson time, outdoor time…you can even include the specific steps of lesson time if you have children in the grades.
Regular mealtimes help to provide anchor points in your day. And when you sing or recite a blessing before eating, you’re adding a ritual that can make this daily activity even more special.
Keep rest or nap time going as long as possible as your children grow older! Even pre-teens can benefit from quiet alone time each day. And so can we! In my family, this was a good time to encourage my boys to separate for a while each afternoon.
TIME IN NATURE
Time in nature helps to ground us in beauty while giving us and our children extra space. Try making time for unstructured play outdoors each day after breakfast or lunch.
Don’t forget about the afternoons. Aside from daily quiet time or time to play outside, consider doing handwork, reading aloud, painting, cooking or baking in the afternoons. This can also be a good time for errands or other outside-of-the-house activities.
Evenings are a great time to consider a family activity such as reading aloud, a game, or making music together that can include everyone. Here is an example of simple daily rhythm:
Wake Up Morning Chores Breakfast Morning Activity or Main Lesson Lunch Play Outside Read Chapter Book Rest Prepare Dinner & Eat Playtime Get Ready for Bed .The Waldorf approach is really very simple.
Not always easy (especially in today’s world where so much swirling all around us is a-rhythmic, meaning you can access just about anything any time of day or season you want)…but simple. And we can give ourselves permission to let it be easy!
I invite you to embrace the simplicity. And to allow yourself to experiment and get comfortable not knowing everything before you begin. So truthfully, gosh darn it, rhythm is always the answer when things go awry or seem utterly chaotic. The beauty of rhythm is that it’s comforting. It helps us all know what to expect and frees up our brain space and our will so we can do good work. Make rhythm your friend!
Step Two: Create a Visual Reminder
And finally, I encourage you to make some kind of visual chart of this daily rhythm. No need to get too elaborate, but it really helps to create something clear and colorful to hang up for everyone in the family to see. You could create a chart to hang on the wall. Or you might simply write your daily rhythm on a chalkboard. Or write your activities on cards that can be moved around.
This visual reminder will help you remember your plan and stay committed to it. It’s also nice to have a basic rhythm to go back to when things get off track instead of inventing one as you go! Now for some examples. I want to show you a few different ways some of the parents in the Waldorf community have created a visual for themselves.
On the next page is an example of starting with the activities written on cards. You could hang these on a long ribbon, or add magnets to the backs of the cards and arrange them daily or weekly.
Here’s what this mom said about her rhythm chart: “I have my rhythm that I created with your Plan It Out course inside my kitchen cabinet. I don’t follow it every day. But it is WONDERFUL to have right there on days that I am tired or confused. The answer to what to do next is ALWAYS waiting for me. It is such a comfort.”
Here are some other great examples of rhythm charts to inspire you to create your own!
And one more from a parent of three children.
See how different each of these rhythm charts is?
You really can experiment with rhythm and make it your own.
Now it’s your turn to use your imagination and create a daily rhythm chart that’s just right for you and your family.
LET RHYTHM BE A COMFORT!
Sometimes we get stuck on how to keep the rhythm going. Either life gets busier or something comes up to throw our rhythm off. Or we might even get bored with it!
Don’t stress. Let go of some things. Be mindful. Choose intentionally.
Establish a family rhythm and revisit it from time to time to tweak and adjust as needed. Be kind to yourself.
It’s important to know what to do when you start to feel like your rhythm needs tweaking or even a complete overhaul. It’s OK to change your daily rhythm as a new season arrives or your circumstances change. And it’s also OK to mix it up some days.
The daily rhythm you create is not meant to hem you in, but to offer you a sense of freedom – knowing what comes next but also knowing that there’s flexibility.
When your rhythm goes off the rails (and it will from time to time), how do you get back on track?
Scale back until your rhythm is working again, and build from there.
Start with three anchor points: morning chores, mealtimes, and bedtime. When these feel solid, add more activities and lessons back in.
Less is more, I promise!
Remember… make rhythm your friend so you can relax and enjoy.