When my sons, both in Middle School, returned after the Winter holiday break they noticed that one of their favorite teachers had brought in a huge rubber band ball. They found time after their morning recycling club to play with it. Within a week the teacher offered to show the two of them how to make their own rubber band balls.
Each week they’d go to her class to work on what became their 52 week project.
They were so excited.
Their little project soon became a quest for the perfect sizes and colors of rubber bands. At first the teacher kept the growing balls on a tea organizer in the classroom.
Then things began to grow. The balls. The interest. The number of students flocking to her classroom.
At this point in the year they have over a dozen students, quietly building rubber band balls on Wednesday mornings before classes start. This has all happened from word-of-mouth, because honestly they were not trying to recruit people. It’s gotten to a point where my son is collecting money to buy rubber bands for the group.
Because dues are being collected he has to formally request that an official club be created.
The teacher doubted that they’d receive permission on the grounds that making rubber band balls is, well, mindless.
Or is it mindful?
These kids are in a top school district in our state. They are buried in homework, tests, DBQs, book reports, orchestra lesson, organized sports – you name it. No wonder a half hour of non-frustrating, gratifying creation is a welcomed relief.
Relaxation and Meditation
Increasingly children are experiencing anxiety from the constant instructions and choices faced each day. Feelings of being mentally overwhelmed and physically tense are counterproductive to learning.
The problem that today’s schools face is that relaxation and meditation take time – time that cannot be usurped from the curriculum schedule.
Some teachers are finding ways to incorporate some relaxation techniques into classroom time such as:
- Story time
- Relaxing Music
- Movement activities
For example, instead of going around the classroom and having each student read a paragraph of text, which can be a terrifying experience where kids are only dreading their turn – teachers are reading to the students. Is that one paragraph going to make or break their reading skills? No. Flip a point of stress into an opportunity for students to better absorb the material.
Teachers are also creating a more relaxing environment. Stiff wooden chairs are being replaced with yoga balls, floor mats and comfy pillows.
When my sons were in elementary school, a recording of guided stretches and simple standing exercises played over the PA system in the morning while students were getting off the buses and settled in their classrooms. This motivated the kids to move along with their morning routine in order to participate.
Creating Relaxation Clubs
It doesn’t take a yoga expert or meditation guru to proctor a relaxation club. Students can listen to music and color sheets – like adult coloring books.
The important thing to remember is that it has to be a non-competitive activity. Rubber band balls all pretty much look the same. Coloring a pre-printed sheet of flowers or zigzags is going to have similar results.
Our kids need to relax as much as they need to learn.
Do you have a meditation club at your school?