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A Random Diablog.
Want to restore Calm, Balance, Energy, Creativity… try this it’s free
Long busy days, late nights, screens, after school clubs etc most kids it seems, are pretty busy and so are most adults.
A Pause in Your Day
When I’m teaching, I often have a slot where I encourage the class to have a pause in their day. They’ll sit up straight or stand, close their mouths, put their index finger near the tip of their nose, to help them focus, and breathe, as simple as that, just breathe. There’s always one or two who take big gulps of air, mess about and giggle but they soon get into it – a nice, slow, easy, continuous deep breath in, and then out for a little longer.
Restore Calm, Balance, Energy, Creativity
I explain that noticing their breath is a wonderful tool to use at any time of day, it can restore calm, balance, energy, creativity and give them a moment where they can chose to respond or react to a situation.
I may even teach them about the ‘amyglada‘ in their brain and share a child-like story about a dog to help them to understand it, and why sometimes this area benefits from a little tlc.
How can we introduce breathe work?
If you’d like to introduce this breathing idea to a child, pick a time when they are receptive, sometimes I find it easier to teach a class of 33 than my own children. If we are sitting together and connecting over a game, loom bands, lego or something peaceful, I might suggest it then. The best thing we can do though is to model it ourselves to them.
Importantly, reflect on how you feel after a few of these breaths.
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There are lots of ideas for how we can connect, communicate, stay calm and generally be more playful as a family, which I’ll share at our next random meet up in April.
In the meantime, just put your lips together and breathe.
Now, though, the intensity and control in schools is quite overwhelming and quite out of touch with 21st-century educational research and thinking. While there is a big noise around the terms ‘mindfulness’ and ‘wellbeing’ I’m not seeing much evidence of it being practised or supported in schools.
My experiences and conversations with teachers reinforce that it’s constant lesson after lesson with little space and intense, time-wasting form filling in and marking.
The kids call me the yoga lady and I sneak in downtime: “Quick kids let’s just STOP and breathe for three breaths, and if you’re feeling rebellious you can close your eyes.” We don’t need more mindfulness; we need to shake things up and encourage more playfulness.
In some schools I still see kids sitting in corridors missing entire playtimes for being ‘naughty’.
Kids are playing up more I feel because they are so systemised and controlled. From the age of 3, cameras are uploading photos of them to add to a personal statement, judgements made about their performance on tick sheets. They are quite happy learning and playing, put the clipboard away. I was once advised by a forward thinking rebellious Headteacher, never to disturb a child when they were concentrating.
I see a few schools with outdoor learning provision for Year 1, but it’s rare to see a dressing up box, role play area or golden time box valued after Year 2, ‘we haven’t got time.’ What do kids do when they go home, do they catch up on this lost play?
My son was in a detention a while back, and I remember asking his teacher if anyone had taken the time to listen to him and offer him some guidance and to think about how he might have handled it differently. The response was ‘oh we haven’t got time for all that’. It’s often quite a punishment escalation system – name on board, then missed playtime, loss of this, loss of that- constant carrot and stick intervention.
What no punishment? Why not create a meditation space – a safe place, time out space for children to reflect and work things out if necessary with older kids or adults on hand to talk things over with and socially coach them with language, kindness, compassion, empathy, eye contact, sharing skills, manners, responsibility, self-control, etc.?
Why not trial a no rewards system? No stickers or house points or, ‘good boy’ remarks to work and behave well, no good or bad judgements, but instead foster a playful, self directed community where children are excited, engaged and intrinsically motivated to learn.
Playtime, Downtime, Be Time – it’s our kid’s natural state. Kids waste a lot of time filling in their confusing and controlling Steps for Success forms and writing paragraphs using prefrontal adverbial prepositional lobotomy phrases, how about we give them back their playtime and mind space and treat them like the kids they are.
But it’s what we’ve always done. It can’t possibly change. ‘They’ made me do it.
In my next blog, I will explain the simplest and quickest way we can help our children to find ‘space’ in these busy days.
There is always hope – a rebel alliance