Thursday, September 20, 2012

Stress balls!

Have you ever squeezed a stress ball?  It squishes in your hand but gives enough resistance to keep your hand and arm muscles active.   When you release the ball it bounces back to it's original shape and your hand relaxes.  It feels really good!

Some kids need to keep their muscles active, need to feel resistance or just need to fidget and keep their hands or bodies busy.  They learn better and are more productive when they are moving, feeling, sensing and/or experiencing something.

Even though I teach movement and dance I have told students to "stop moving and pay attention."  It's silly when I think about it.  I am asking a child to stop in order to process what I am saying.  What if he or she needs to move in order to process the information?

I can't sit still to learn.  I can sit still but I won't retain the information.  In other words, if I want to truly learn something I have to see it, feel it, and experience it.

If you give me a map of my own backyard I will need a search party to rescue me!  In order for me to get from one place to another I need to focus on landmarks like the colors and shapes of buildings and the winding path of the road.  (My Garmin helps as well!)  When learning someone's name I visualize the spelling of the name and associate the sound with a visual picture if it is a hard name to remember. And when I need to activate my creative side, my problem solver side or my comical side, it is necessary for me to move my body.  When I want to get in touch with my feelings and emotions I need to stop moving and sense how I am breathing, how I am holding my body and feel how the energy is flowing (or not flowing) from my head to my toes.

When I am angry, anxious and frustrated it feels really good to squeeze a stress ball.  I can actively feel my muscles speak to me.  I can hear my body talking to me. Squeezing the ball enables me to do the opposite - I am able to let go and relax.  My body teaches me.  If I engage then I can release. 

Instead of telling a child to stop a behavior - redirect the behavior.  If a child needs to move ask them to move big!  Engage their muscles, their senses and their brains in new ways.   Look closer at a chatty child.  Are they intentionally not paying attention or do they need some background noise.  Can they sing along to music you are playing?

Think of the whys, the hows and the how- tos.  And when you think about how to engage the children in your life squeeze a stress ball.  It feels so good!


No comments:

Post a Comment