Children are no strangers to stress and tension. Because they are ‘time-poor’ they have very little down time to process their feelings and concerns. The tension we feel as parents and teachers is unfortunately shared with children.
Our obsessions with their academic results and exams have caused children to question their self-worth, their intellectual ability and to doubt their ability to cope with school.
Stessed children learn less so everyone loses!
I have assessed many new children over the last 3 months and a common thread runs through most of these sessions – tension.
So many kids are tense, worried, tell me they are failing and CAN’T DO their work. They describe themselves as “dumb” and “stupid” and really cannot perceive they could possibly be smart, successful or able to overcome their difficulties.
Sadly – something all these children share is average to high intelligence and incredible gifts in:
- gymnastics/dance/sporting ability
- the ability to generate amazing ideas for writing
- really high artistic ability
- high problem solving skills
Their creative thinking skills are off the scale and yet they know we don’t value these gifts!
Why don’t we?
The world needs these creative gifts like never before!
Why do we consign these brilliant kids to the educational trash heap?
Sure – they often DO learn differently.
This means I have to think differently when I plan their lessons and I have to teach differently. I get kids writing and spelling words in bright colours, tracing them in sand-pits, on a giant white board etc and I’m happy to provide all these learning tools because this is HOW they learn. So, if children learn differently we all need to teach differently. We can’t keep consigning these kids to the educational rubbish bin.
I LOVE working with these super-smart kids. and I have to help them let go of the tension and negative thoughts they have built up around their academic achievement. It is a privilege to work with them.
I teach them to physically relax using kinesiology exercises, learn to adopt a positive mind set and I utilise art and journalling therapies to help with self-expression .
Its only after they can relax and drop the tension around academic matters that our children can truly start the remediation process. These kids need to be healed from the very education system that was supposed to help them!
We owe it to the future to roll back the tension levels kids feel. it just makes the learning process so much slower. ALL kids can be helped to see their own skills and to realise they ARE smart they DO matter and they CAN succeed.
What if I did that?
What if I am wrong?
What if she does that?
Most of us imagine multiple possible scenarios dozens of times each day.
Forming questions leads us to problem solving and ultimately we decide which questions to follow, form a hunch, hypothethise and try to order our inquiry.
This questioning attitude is an essential part of kids’ minds. Unfortunately, we dull their minds by not encouraging their questions.
We learned about question marks last week and I was astounded!
WHY IS GOD THERE? asks a 7 year old.
WHY DO YOUNG KIDS SOMETIMES DIE? asks a 9 year old.
WHY ARE TEACHERS SO STRICT? asks a feisty 6 year old youngster.
WHY DO WE HAVE TO LIVE FOREVER? asks a six year old who attends a Catholic school and on and on to totally mind blowing and obscure questions about the Mosasaurs.
My brain hurts but I know it is my job to awaken their curiosity not dampen it.
The link provided here is an excellent blog post on improving our ability to teach kids about questions. Both teachers and parents can benefit from a careful reading!
Kids need to be quiet sometimes and thrive with regular doses of silence.
However, they are often uncomfortable with silence because they don’t experience it. They are very rarely given the chance to be immersed in the profound silences that soothe and heal us.
Parents and teachers can set out to deliberately set up silent or near silent situations for children.
It’s like a re-boot for them (and for us).
Emotions settle, thoughts are gathered and new insights occur.
The spaces between are where intrapersonal intelligence can grow and lead to much deeper learning.
Have quiet, restful music playing as kids complete work- especially writing.
Allow a few minutes “thinking” time between classes.
Take children through brief mindfulness sessions each day.
Encourage some silent reading time each evening.
Go for a listening walk- no talking allowed!
Regularly take children to wilderness places so they can connect deeply with nature
Family drawing/art time with quiet music.
Encourage children to sit quietly and observe birds, breezes blowing grasses or shapes of clouds.
Silence can heal, deepen learning, center us and leads us back to our true selves.
Silence heals our souls and helps us to join the dots of our disordered and untidy existences.
Try a slice of silence today and feel yourself calm and focus!
Everything that’s created comes out of silence. Your thoughts emerge from the nothingness of silence. Your words come out of this void. Your very essence emerged from emptiness. All creativity requires some stillness. Wayne Dyer
At this time of year most children in Australia are relaxed and enjoying sun-filled holidays but of course in only a few weeks the big, dark questions begin to emerge-
Who will my teacher be?
Will I do well this year?
What about NAPLAN?
Mum is broke and stressing- will I be able to get my books and uniform?
What if I don’t have any friends in my class?
This is my first year of high-school. I don’t even know where the toilets are and I get lost easily. How will I cope?
I am starting school. I am so scared. Why can’t Mum stay?
The fears build and many parents also begin to stress about school fees, books, shoes etc.
What should be a joyful school year beginning – a clean page of life – a chance to improve, grow and transform, is often turned into a gut-wrenching, anxious and even panic filled time.
Children (and adults) do not concentrate or do well academically when panicked and so it is important to apply a few measures to calm and reassure children.
- Try not to share too many worries with children. They don’t understand and often become anxious and panicky. Of course, it’s fine to tell them the family has overspent and needs to cut back but if they see you really anxious every day they pick that up and make that part of their personality. They start to mirror your anxiety and cannot function well in the important first term.
- Start to cut back on late nights and too much digital media in the last 10 days before school goes back and get the kids reading again! Maybe establish a family reading time for 20-25 mins each day. Just play quiet music in the background and everyone grabs a cushion and book. The rule is NO TALKING but at end you might have some brief discussions about what was read. Very young children may only be able to cope with 10-15 mins.
- Encourage your children to draw or write about their feelings as they prepare to go back to school. Talk to them about their worries and share some of the concerns you used to have as a child.
- Reassure them they will make friends and learn to find their way around quickly if they are entering a new environment.
- Ask them to help you plan lunches, get their organisers/diaries ready and help them choose after school activities carefully. Make sure they will have time for rest and play so that they can have down-time.
This can be a joyous and enriching time. Relax, take a deep breath and enjoy the last days of fun and preparation for a great school year.
I wish you and your children a wonderful year, filled with learning, fun, beauty and love!
If you have any questions relating to beginning the school year, please do email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I promise to answer!
We have special classes to help children settle in to grade 1 as well as targeted tuition for all age groups – group, individual and skype. Call 92714200 for more info.
I knew she was the Child Whisperer the moment I wandered into her cave. Victoria Carlton is no ordinary educator. She is a hoarder of trinkets and toys, books and baubles, paint and phonics games. She weaves magic out of found objects, creates games from egg cartons and marbles and she can spark the interest of every child she meets.
When she listens to children, she focuses her bespectacled eyes right into them, seeing beyond diagnosis, labels, tantrums and reports to really see what makes this child tick. Her head of flaming red hair frames a kind and intelligent face and she often giggles with delight at the wonders that children share with her.
Kindness informs all her practice. Once assured that the child in her care is valued and respected, she then sets about the task of working with them to get them the kind of education they need, one tailored for them to reach their potential.
She strives for excellence at all times and demands it from herself, foremost, her staff and the children themselves. She questions children deeply and asks them to look at themselves in a way that they might not have previously. Their minds and hearts open. It is beautiful to watch.
Victoria mentors teachers and shares her insights widely. It is her sincere wish to transform education to meet the needs of all children. She envisions a world in which every child is educated in emotionally intelligent ways, in creative and literature soaked lessons and in ways that all children can access phonics, grammar, maths concepts and a life-long love of learning.
Victoria Carlton is much like the dragons she loves, magical, wise and formidable. She is the Child Whisperer.