Audrey McAllen, a well known Waldorf educator, states that the two most important educational factors in the life of young child are learning how to sleep and to eat. Sleeping is a rhythmic activity akin to breathing. Monitoring your child’s sleeping and waking, meals, amount of play, and stimulation during the day helps to create a rhythmic life pattern. A special bedtime ritual of perhaps lighting a candle and a simple story or verse is food for sound, deep sleep.
During the first seven years of life, children are like sponges, absorbing everything in their environment through their senses. Exploring and experimenting within their surroundings, children constantly have new experiences. They take in every word we speak (the sounds of words particularly interest them as well as the tone of voice we use). These daytime experiences are often processed at night, so consequently a healthy amount of sound sleep is necessary for the full digestion of the day’s experiences.