Can 'stillness' be taught to pre-schoolers?
At John Colet, part of the classroom routine is to regularly stop and pause in between lessons and activities. We find this works wonders!
It brings even the youngest students back to a calm frame of mind allowing them a readiness for learning. Lower 1st teachers Simona Cipollone and Justine Cooper share their tips on some tried and true ways to get even the youngest children to come to stillness, just for a few moments, before and after each lesson. These tips can work in your home just as well, for those times when you would like to restore a calm and serene environment… for a short time at least! And practising regularly builds the skill, for parents and children alike!
“Stillness is part of our School values, so we explain to children why we become still and how doing so every day can help us all to be happier and more focused. We find this direct instruction approach to work best with our students from day one of school so that they understand the benefits of this practice,” say Simona and Justine.
For any parents wanting to give this a go at home, here are some ideas to get started:
Simple breathing games, breathing in and out deeply as Mum or Dad counts. If possible, encourage your child to close their eyes to avoid distraction around them.
Focusing on the senses especially on touch, sight and listening. If you get little children to focus on one sense for a few moments, they can connect with their senses and create a feeling of calm.
E.g. Stop and listen intently together: “What can you hear? What can you hear that’s close up? What can you hear that sounds far away?” “What can you feel right now? Feel your feet on the floor/bottom on the chair?” These probing questions help to center the child’s attention on the current moment.
Listening meditations. There are some great online resources with children’s meditation. Children are encouraged to lay still on their back with their eyes closed while they listen to a story being told. This helps the children use their imagination within a secure, trusting and calm environment.
By coming back to their senses, children slowly develop the skill of self-calming. Over time, they learn what they need to do to become still and at peace whenever they need to.
Lower 1st teachers Simona Cipollone and Justine Cooper have encouraged their students to keep up The Pause, our way of learning to come to stillness, even while learning from home.