Rhythm is a word often used in music, but in this blog, it means ‘a smooth flow of daily activities of a child.’ A daily rhythm can be understood as a natural impulse like breathing. And this daily rhythm, if followed from early childhood, can impact a child’s healthy development.
A daily rhythm should not be misunderstood as a routine.
Routine is a set of the scheduled number of activities to be done throughout the day; whereas rhythm is more flexible and it defines a smooth flow of activities during the day.
Creating a balanced rhythm for young children during the day is a tool to make parenting easier. It helps young children to have an understanding of time, which is an abstract concept for them. Rhythm also creates a sense of predictability and security in them.
A balanced rhythm follows the concept of ‘breathing in’ and ‘breathing out’. As breathing in and out happens naturally, uninterrupted and in a smooth, balanced flow throughout our lives, a child’s balanced rhythm of activities throughout the day should happen in a similar manner.
‘Breathing in’ activities typically mean assimilating knowledge through listening to stories or doing some learning tasks.
Whereas, ‘breathing out’ activities could consist of drawing, painting, clay work, craftwork, playing outside and of course resting.
A balanced rhythm of activities for children can also extend to Family Rhythms. Incorporating a family rhythm can lead to smooth relationships within the family and create a healthy, supportive and cooperative atmosphere at home.
The best way to plan a balanced rhythm for children or ‘Family Rhythm’ is by reflecting what kind of activities are important to help a child grow or help the family to feel connected. These activities can happen day in and day out and at certain times in your family. For example, Meals, Sleep/Bedtime routines like reading, praying, afternoon rest time etc.
For children, the three main pillars of the day usually revolve around mealtimes, playtimes and rest times. These activities can become anchor points around which you could start establishing regular rhythms such as setting the table together, prayer, eating together without any electronic gadgets etc.
It is good to keep the activities simple, consistent and avoid changing the activities often. A consistent rhythm of activities that have become familiar will help children cope with the transition of one activity to another and also create good habits. And when the activities are simple and doable, it is more meaningful for the children.
Creating a balanced rhythm of activities will also greatly benefit neurotypical children or children with special needs. A consistent rhythm and the resultant predictability in the environment will make them feel comfortable, and allow them to thrive and bloom.
Children who grow in environments which follow a regular, natural rhythm in the family, are much more confident and are better able to manage their time and behaviour in different situations.
Thus, one of the greatest gifts which parents could give their children is to create a smooth, flowing rhythm for and with them.