Offer rhythmic activities
Today’s task is to offer your child rhythmic activities. We’ve already explored the idea of the rhythms of the day. Certain activities themselves are also more rhythmic than others. And these rhythmic activities are very healthy for preschoolers.
Much of traditional child’s play is rhythmic. Chanting rhymes, fingerplays, skipping, jumping on a trampoline, running, taking walks, lap bounce games, riding scooters and bicycles, dancing, and singing are all healthy movement for preschoolers.
Much of the traditional work of the home also had a rhythm to it. Threshing and grinding wheat, kneading bread, washing clothes by hand, chopping wood, ironing, scrubbing, and sweeping all involve moving in rhythm (and those are just a few examples of course).
Any time our bodies are moving in rhythm we gain energy from the rhythm itself. Singing helps to sustain physical work and so does moving to a beat. Make any movement or work more rhythmic and it will be energy-promoting rather than draining.
This kind of work and play also involves using the hands and bodies in ways that are important for healthy neurological development and functioning. These basic movements strengthen proprioception (sense of where the body is in space), the vestibular sense (balance), and the ability to cross mid-lines (move/see/write/read with ease across all planes). These are critical physical foundations for learning and functioning - and we won’t go more into it now except to say that healthy movement and lots of it leads to healthy development!
Often the best way to “invite” a young child to try an activity is just to do it yourself. Children under about age seven have an impulse to imitate and imitation is their primary learning tool. Many housework activities that you are doing anyway (cleaning, raking leaves, weeding the garden, sweeping, etc.) have a rhythmic quality and are excellent movement practice for your little ones. I wrote in this post (Day 4) about how you can make the work of the home more inviting to young children by creating simple routines.
You can also make the work of the home more accessible by de-mechanizing it. Sweeping is more accessible to children than vacuuming. Washing dishes by hand has a rhythmic quality missing when you use the dishwasher. Kneading bread dough by hand makes a wonderful rhythmic activity for preschoolers.
How to offer rhythmic activities:
1. Consider the work of the home a valuable part of your homeschooling in the early years - make it accessible to your preschooler!
2. Sing while you work. I love, love, love this songbook.
3. Look for opportunities to encourage rhythmic movement. Kneading playdough or bread dough, raking leaves outside, jumping on the trampoline, skipping, dancing and singing, walking and running, fingerplays and nursery rhymes, scrubbing the back porch - all of these and more are so wonderful for the young child!
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The most important way to learn something new is to do it and the second most important way is to share your insights and ask questions. Please share with us in the comments below!
How do you encourage rhythmic movement for your preschooler?