Did you ever think of rhythm as a carrier of warmth for children (and adults)? I consider holding rhythm one of most important ways of conveying warmth to my children. Rhythm assures us that we are making time and space for the things that are most important. This could be warming meals, it could be just time together; it could be the stability and repetition that children and teens thrive upon. Rhythm frees up the child to have energy for growth, for emotional evenness, for play, for boredom and dreaming, for doing what we love. With this scaffolding, children don’t have to spend time wondering the order of things, or when lunch is, or what happens on Mondays. They can live in greater freedom.
A school setting naturally helps provide some of this structure for some families. However, in homeschooling, we have to create and hold this scaffolding and patterning of rhythm ourselves. Some parents feel as if they are hopeless with rhythm and can never stick to anything consistent. However, I often tell parents they most likely DO have a rhythm as to how they do things in their household, even if it is only the meals or sleep times. Even if we start with just meals and rest/sleep, we can start from a place of strength to create the other pieces of our life. It also gives a great backbone to gentle discipline as rhythm cuts down on chaos. For those of you with mainly tiny children under the age of 9, this is very important!
Rhythm does have occasion to change with development, season, and homeschooling as one moves up in the grades. For example, as children grow into the teenaged years, things change, but perhaps surprisingly, much of the basic structure remains intact. Meals probably stay about the same so long as you are not out every night at activities and miss family meals together. Bedtimes may expand a bit, but I notice the patterns set as children still are extending into our older children. None of our children sleep particularly late, and we have always had such an emphasis on sleep and earlier bedtimes that they are not ones to usually stay up super late either. Just my experience; yours may be different! Our priority on being in nature and outside also has remained unchanged. We may have more to do in school than in when my oldest was only in first grade, but we still go outside, and we still have a no to low media home. Sunday is still church day, Mondays is still horseback riding day. These things have not changed for years.
Rhythms can also change with the seasons. Right now, we are in this beautiful season of Martinmas warmth, light, and protection. These themes also carry into Advent, which begins one week from today. This time of year leads me to more cleaning up, changing seasonal focus in our home, creating, cooking and baking , and crafting. I am so happy to be home and cozy this time of year! Spring feels much more exuberant and we just want to be outside and enjoying greenery bursting into fruition.
And lastly, the piece of rhythm that is how to get multiple children and their schooling accomplished does change as all the children grow simply because the children’s school takes longer and they have more subjects. My high schooler has much more work to do than my first grader, but it is still my job to use rhythm to provide balance. Rhythm in this case is an aid, even if it needs frequent tweaking. I just wrote a little watercolor paper schedule solely for our homeschooling hours and hung it up in our schoolroom. It might change next month, but each time I do it, it reflects our priorities for that period of time.
Rhythm is warmth and love, and something special unique to each family. Please, look at it that way and not as something to be endured. Rhythm is an extension of love and nourishment.
Wishing you all a few more happy Martinmas days before Advent, with Martinmas protection and Advent posts to come this week!
Love and blessings,