Sunday, November 23, 2008

Take a Moment to Rest, Relax, Contemplate, Meditate and then Return to the Work

I was recently asked if there was a place in my classroom that a child might rest. I walked through my classroom the other day and made a mental list which I am now going to note below.

Children may go to the library to read a book, hug a bear (Henry is a small, stuffed bear that stays in the library along with our pet fish, Audrey)

or look at one of the photographs hanging on the wall or sit quietly.


Children may put their name cards out on work they have been concentrating on to walk quietly on the line. After a few times around, the child simply returns to his work ready to have a second go at it.


Children may sit at the Peace Table and draw designs in the sand with the small rake provided or sit quietly.


Children may use markers or colored pencils to draw a picture of their choice (however the number of sheets of paper allowed for drawing is limited to two).

The above picture is titled, "Halloween Hairdos."


They may also have snack by themselves, if no one else is wanting to have snack, or with another child.

This simple snack of cereal and milk is one of the most popular.


Children may get out the yoga cards and meditation rug so as to either do some poses or to simply rest with a scented eye pillow placed carefully on their face. Children mediating may not be disturbed by other children. No food is offered and there are no observers. Over the years, several children have actually fallen asleep while doing this. It is most often used when the class is a little loud or busy, or just before a holiday.


Collectively, all of the children and the adults play the bell game often. Here the child tries not to ring the bell as they walk across the rug from their spot to the spot of another child. The other child is given the bell by the first so that they may carry it to the next child. This is one of the Silent Activities in my album. It is very calming and centering for both the children and the adults.


The children also have 45 minutes - 1 hour outdoor, playground time everyday - weather permitting.

That looks like a pretty good list. Patti and I have often noted a child who has taken a moment to stretch, read a book, have snack or do yoga returns to their work with a renewed sense of commitment and focus.


Hannah said...

Thanks for sharing your ideas. I love the resting mat and eye pillow...I have a beanbag that children can sit on in my classroom to rest, but it is not as "structured" of a rest as what you have described...I may try some of your ideas.

Professional Mommy said...

Oh, that is lovely!

MoziEsmé said...

I love all these ideas - and am brainstorming how to incorporate relaxation into my girl's day now!

Teresa said...

It was very relaxing just reading about the relaxing things in your classroom! :D
Why is the drawing paper limited to two sheets? Just curious

Susan Y. Dyer said...

We limit drawing paper to two sheets so that the opportunity for expression is provided but that a child does not only draw or color but also engages the Montessori materials.

Children may use both sides of the paper so as not to waste paper and so they have actually four opportunities to free draw.

A limit is put more for children who have a hard time choosing challenging work. One of my co-workers had to limit a young child to one piece of paper because a child would come in in the morning sit down to color and never did anything but color all morning.

Limiting "artistic expression" seems in conflict with the whole idea of art but the role of a guide requires we also help young children with issues like self-discipline. To me it is just like putting out snack and writing the number a child may have of each - example: 4 crackers and 4 pieces of cheese.

Also, there are many other ways a child may be artistic such as cutting work, collage work, flower arranging, sewing, exploration with the sensorial materials, metal inset work, etc.

Susan Dyer
The Moveable Alphabet

Teresa said...

That sounds really sensible. Thanks for replying so quickly:)


MishaLee said...

This is such a wonderful post. I feel so blessed to have the opportunity to send my child to a Montessori school that has many of these same activiies and to be child care provider and offer them to my little ones. Where else can a child learn to slow down, relax and then go back to work opposed to being forced to trudge through what everyone else is doing and winding up frustrted and stressed. Thank you for yet another reminder of why I love Montessori.

MishaLee said...
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