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!
So far I have “spun” before breakfast, through breakfast and while organising tasks, generating ideas for a creative writing program and now while writing this and it’s only 10:30am.
I love it. It seems to help me focus and feel less stressed.
Researchers are running around telling us how wrong they are for children, how right they are etc.
It’s not a big deal!
Crazes have always been with us. Marbles, dinky toys, slinkies, hula hoops, conkers, clackers, knuckle bones trolls slime football cards, Rubik’s cubes, Transformers , slap bracelets, Tamagotchis, Pokemon , Yo-Yos …………………….
Wise teachers know what to do- “Your spinners live in here!” as they produce a special FIDGETS HERE basket!
Then we get on with it- just like our teachers did and their teachers before that.
Maybe or maybe not it is good for ADHD or Autistic kids. Who knows? The next craze will be here soon so we can all obsess about that while the kids just get on with the job of being a kid and having fun and avoiding homework.
We could actually learn a thing or two from the kids.
If you can’t beat them- join em!
During the next fortnight we will be studying the science of fidget spinners and making them- check our Pinterest page for ideas!
We will use them to revise seconds, circles, revolutions, moon around the Earth etc
Anyway- back to my little idea generator- my spinner!
All I really need to know… I learned in kindergarten: Robert Fulghum
“These are the things I learned (in Kindergarten):
1. Share everything.
2. Play fair.
3. Don’t hit people.
4. Put thngs back where you found them.
5. CLEAN UP YOUR OWN MESS.
6. Don’t take things that aren’t yours.
7. Say you’re SORRY when you HURT somebody.
8. Wash your hands before you eat.
10. Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
11. Live a balanced life – learn some and drink some and draw some and paint some and sing and dance and play and work everyday some.
12. Take a nap every afternoon.
13. When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands, and stick together.
14. Be aware of wonder. Remember the little seed in the Stryrofoam cup: The roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.
15. Goldfish and hamster and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup – they all die. So do we.
16. And then remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first word you learned – the biggest word of all – LOOK.”
― Robert Fulghum
Kindy teachers are different!
- They don’t serve up learning in pre-parcelled lots- they knit it together so that little children make connections and learn deeply.
- Kindy teachers know that if a child doesn’t understand- then show them in a different way.
- They know children learn differently- very differently.
- Kindy teachers are tired- often!
- They can never say, “Turn to page 35 and do all the questions.”
- Kindy teachers HAVE to be present.
They HAVE to be well planned and above all they HAVE to love children – a lot. They certainly don’t do it for the money. They are never paid enough to cover what they do!
All of us can learn from watching our immensely creative kindy teacher colleagues. imagine if all teachers taught like kindy teachers- children would be happy, be allowed to develop their strengths and learn in ways that suit their learning styles.
What a radical idea!
They have got it right and we need to study them and learn from them.
Be there. Be present. Love your children. Expect the unexpected and FLOW!
If you teach like a kindy teacher you will probably have premature grey hairs, lots of “crinkles” and have a desperate need for sleep. But be assured- you have more effect on your students than anyone else.
I am sure God has a special place in Heaven for kindy teachers- huge comfy beds, warm scented baths and trashy magazines with wine and very good chocolate!
What you do MATTERS and we admire you greatly!
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
We all know that children need to play but do we really understand why? Actually it is VITAL that children play and that we don’t over-schedule them so their play times are eroded.
- develops creativity and imagination
- improves fine and gross motor skills
- builds emotional intelligence – especially empathy and resilience skills
- is important to healthy brain development
- helps children to learn about their world and appropriate ways to interact
Play can take many forms and does not always need to be structured.
It is often during solitary play times that children think deeply and examine feelings and solve problems.
Intra-Personal intelligence is strengthened when children have plenty of time to play.
The following link will give you many ideas for ensuring your children are not PLAY DEFICIENT and grow into healthy and well-adjusted young people.
I am often surprised at the way children hang onto old hurts and cannot let go of the past.
One child I worked with in our EQ4KIDZ program had hung onto a past resentment for 4 years! It was actually quite trivial – to me- not to him!)
His mother had forgotten she was taking him to a movie and had made other arrangements. This happened when he was 7 and it was fermenting inside him still at 11 years!
We teach children about the power of forgiveness in week 4 of our EQ4KIDZ course and for many children this is a complete revelation.
I usually come out bending over as if my back has a heavy load and the children ask me, “Vicky! What’s the matter?”
“I am angry with lots of people and I am not going to forgive them! They should pay for what they did. I will never stop being angry with them!”
“What did they do? When did it happen?” they ask.
“Oh- about 10 years ago but they didn’t say sorry so I will NEVER forgive them! I would rather walk around like this for the rest of my life, bearing this huge bag of hurts and resentments on my back!”
Usually one of the kids or a teacher will comment, “Just let it go Vicky. Forgive them and move on!”
“Really?” I ask. “Is it THAT easy?”
So then I say, “OK. I am letting it go,” and stand up straight with a big sigh of relief and often the children spontaneously clap!
We then darken the room and get a huge bowl of water and place it in the middle of the floor- children all sitting around it. We show the children our special “Forgiveness stones”. (We buy them from a local hardware store.)
We play quiet music in the background while we invite the children to come one by one and place a few stones in the bowl of “love” to show they are forgiving someone. Some children take 10 stones, some just 1 or 2. We also tell them they can place stones in the bowl to represent forgiving ourselves and moving on.
It is interesting and powerful to watch how sacramentally the children go through this special forgiveness “ceremony.”
Forgiveness can be modelled by parents who decide to let go of old hurts and resentments and talk to children about this.
Forgiveness is powerful and transformative- both for the forgiver and the forgiven one! Let the past be in the past.
Tomorrow I will be teaching children from 7 to 11 years.
It will be like conducting a symphony of carefully chosen learning experiences. To successfully manage this I need to know the curriculum content and I need to know the needs of the children I will be teaching. it takes careful planning but the benefits are HUGE!
There is considerable evidence supporting multi-age grouping for teaching.
“When compared to children in single age classes, children in multi-age classes are superior in study habits, social interaction, self-motivation, cooperation, and attitudes toward school. Academically, children perform just as well or even better than those in single grade classes. (Gajadharsingh 1991). It will take time and effort, but our kids are worth it!”
We have followed this approach for many years and see many benefits:
- Teachers teach children at point of need rather than being confined by perceptions of age
- Children can get access whatever help and teaching they need in flexible groupings
- More able children tend to be fully extended.
- Children with difficulties feel more relaxed about accessing much needed assistance and will ask questions more readily.
- Essentially this approach is modelled on natural family groupings and honours the fact that we grow and mature at different times, sometimes with “spurts” and sometimes more slowly.
- Teachers who teach in this way tend to develop the ability to be more flexible and use more learning games and “hands-on” equipment.
- Of course teachers who are new to teaching in these environments need some coaching and modelling in this teaching method. It is like conducting an orchestra and once you know how, you just get better!
- We believe the educational gains are great so if you have the chance to teach in a multi-age environment, take it! You have much to gain!
Parents who have the chance to enrol children in multi-age classrooms or tuition centres – know your children are experiencing an excellent education mode and likely to have very tangible social and academic gains.
I have not had enough of my “dreaming under the Christmas tree” time and my looking into the lit tree and imagining other worlds.
I want this year to be a year of going slowly enough to really notice what is happening- really deeply in all ways.
I have been kid-watching and teacher-watching this month and reflecting deeply on the REAL needs of kids. (And teachers!)
As I watched our teachers run EQ4KIDZ, BOOST, ART FROM THE HEART and YOUNG SCIENTISTS I noticed common threads.
It was all about CONNECTIONS and RELATIONSHIPS. As the kids bonded with teachers work improved. As teachers got to know their students their teaching methods became more precise, levels of humour increased and lesson enjoyment for both pupils and teachers increased!
As we begin our academic year and have our first staff meeting I want to posit that RELATIONSHIPS and love of children must come first.
TEACH ONLY WITH LOVE will be our mantra this year.
Love comes before the worksheets, teaching techniques, expensive resources. Teaching delivered with love is the way.
Teachers will never be replaced by machines. Teachers can love and love will always lead to higher results.
I declare this to be a year of unhurried, deep, effective teaching and lots of extended celebrations!