Written by Rene Petersen, Trinus teacher
In Waldorf Schools rhythm plays an essential part in daily, weekly and yearly planning.
Rhythm holds the children; it makes them feel safe and secure. It gives them clear boundaries by which they can mark the passage of time throughout the day or the year. The repetition rhythm allows, strengthens the will of the children so that they come to love and trust all that happens at their school.
Picture from Waldorf Chicago
In the primary school the day starts with the children being greeted and individually welcomed into the classroom by their teacher. In this way the teacher gets to make direct contact with each child so that they know they are seen and acknowledged.
Every day begins with the 2 hour Main Lesson block and each main lesson lasts for 3-4weeks. During this time the children become immersed in the particular subject they are learning for the 3-4 week period. Besides learning the content they enjoy stories, art, songs, drama, modelling- all centred around the current Main Lesson block. The Main Lesson starts with rhythmic time where the children sing class songs, recite verses and participate in games to wake them up, unite them as a class and prepare them for the day ahead.
After break time the children move on to their subject lessons and lessons where regular repetition is required e.g. Spanish, Math, English, Music etc
After lunch children are engaged in the art subjects e.g painting, drama or Waldorf Games. These subjects are done at the end of the day so that children are not required to strain themselves when they have already had a long day. The lively arts and games lessons are a great way to keep children engaged and stimulated right up until the end of the day.
Much care, attention and thought goes into planning the rhythm of the day as well as the weekly and yearly rhythm. A misconception exists that Waldorf schools do not have any structure or routine.
However the reality is the complete opposite of this.
The main difference is that the structure is not noticeable because children are smiling and happy throughout the day. The rhythm of a Waldorf school allows children ample space for breathing in and out; space for quiet and chaos; space for inner reflection and space for group work and class activities. In this way children move healthily through the day, week and year trusting that they are safe. This is one reason why Waldorf students enjoy being at school!