As we respect the importance of rhythm in the life of the young child, creating a rhythm and space for rest time in our busy day at the Seaside Playgarden is critical to good health and well being. I want to share with you what we have done to create a quiet space for this special part of our day. During lunch break, the teachers create a space for rest in the sun room. The furniture is moved into the front room, and light blue curtains are hung in the doorways to define the space and the mood. Light blue soft flannel blankets and pillows are laid out on the circle rug for each child.
After lunch the children wash their hands, take off their shoes and walk quietly in bare feet to the resting room. When the children enter the resting room, Miss Lynn is sitting in the rocking chair, playing the Kinderharp in a quiet melody while singing the Resting Song. Once the children have found their personal blankets and have settled into their space, their hands are scented with lavender essential oil, called “Fairy Rest Drops.” We notice the color fairies gently dancing in the window. We take a few deep slow breaths and then it happens…rest. Our day is 5 to 6 hours in length, so 30-45 minutes of rest feels like it’s just the right amount of time.
Wake- up time has its own rhythm, too. One by one, Little Lamb nuzzles the children’s cheeks while I sing a light, happy, yet quiet, wake up song. The children begin to fold their blankets in the special butterfly way. When the blanket is folded and rolled just right, the children can see their symbol on the top. They often help each other in this task. Then it’s time to put on our outside shoes and go outside. Then, after play and some finishing touches in play yard clean up, it’s time for Goodbye Circle.
Rudolf Steiner in the article, “Walking, Speaking, Thinking—Imitation in a Bodily-Religious Way,” stated that “What matters in a kindergarten is that children should have a harmonious relation to those who are in charge of them and that these people should behave quite naturally, so that the children are naturally led to imitate them.” (Understanding Young Children, p.11). Our teachers ask ourselves: How do I make a gesture of rest? Am I at ease in silence? Am I, myself, resting during this time? Am I breathing out? I consciously breathe out very noticeably during rest time and am able to totally relax after I have eased the children into that critical transition from wakefulness to restfulness. We have developed a rhythm where we create the space, and the children know what is expected. This helps in making a smooth transition from a busy, social lunch time to a quiet time of rest.
I sing this while strumming the lyre.
We will rest so quietly, quietly we rest.
We will rest so quietly, that’s when we grow the best.
Resting, resting, quietly we rest,
Resting , resting, quietly we rest.
Lynn Coalson has been a lead teacher for six years at Seaside Playgarden, a LifeWays Representative Program in Jacksonville, Florida.