Time to reflect, refresh, and wander
How often have we all experienced that feeling in ourselves when we say we need to take a break, step back, refresh, recoup, regroup, chill out? All of us from time to time need space to be ourselves or by ourselves. Life gets too stressful or too much for us to handle. Whether we take a day, an hour, a week, a month or longer, it is this time and space we put ourselves in to give our minds and bodies the opportunity to restart again anew, to face whatever we need to do.
Students need the same thing in their world. Academic stress, competition, personal challenges all create havoc and pressure on students as young as Kindergartners, causing high anxiety. We have seen the signs in our classrooms. We know when Johnny or Sally needs a movement break. We hear it in the frustrations and reactions of our kids when they say, “Not another test!” Why don’t we give them a break too?
Providing destress manipulatives, quiet places to sit, relaxing music and a break from the routine, even if for 10 minutes, can make the difference in our students’ minds. They’ll appreciate it as much as we do. These breaks allowing students to look out the window and dream for a few minutes, listen to a story, doodle, close their eyes for 5, help the brain to relax and reengage for the next activity.
I have allowed students to doodle and play with clay while I read aloud. I give each student a stick of Crayola brand clay, ordered from the district supply catalog at the start of the year. Each child has one stick, placed in a small baggie with their name on it and a sheet of notebook paper. Whenever I have read aloud or they need a quick break, they can take the clay out and work it, using the notebook paper to set it on. Active hands making creations while relaxing is so therapeutic! They can take the clay home at the end of the school year. It was common to see many exchange colors to create new shades of this miracle de-stressor!
I have also given out wiki sticks and pipe cleaners in baggies for students to keep; a quiet calming tool. Plastic hourglass shapes with the oozing lava were always available for anyone needing a few minutes to sit and watch the lava flow back and forth.
Like a relaxing car ride for me, I can provide tools to help them destress.
What tools do you use?