Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Tuesday SOL Summer of healing

This is a Tuesday Slice of Life for Two Writing Teachers
Check out their website for many more reflections on teaching.

Summer is delightfully underway and
I am immersing myself in many daily pleasures -
reading and writing,
gardening (weeding!),
painting outdoor furniture,
walking and bicycling,
cooking and eating well.
This year, my summer is an amazing eight weeks long, and
I am trying to savor each day.
I know how extraordinarily lucky I am to have this much time for rest and reflection, and
it is much needed.

In the midst of my son's health challenges this spring,
I signed up for a workshop to jumpstart a summer of healing -
Basic Mind Body Skills for Alleviating Anxiety and Trauma with Robin Carnes.

As is true with all that I do, see, read, experience,
I thought so much about my preschoolers during this workshop!

It seems to me that 
I have more students showing signs of anxiety than
I used to have.
I don't have any empirical data to support this,
just a gut feeling.

I wonder,
are families more stressed?
are parents more preoccupied?
are children's lives more structured, with higher expectations for performance? 

I don't know.

I see children who
worry a lot
continuously scan the room for changes
seem unsettled
avoid interacting with others
have nervous tics
cry a lot
tense up unexpectedly and frequently
seem uncomfortable in their own skin

and it is my job as classroom teacher to help them
feel safe, loved, welcomed,
to help them feel a strong sense of belonging.

I came away from this workshop with ideas
not just for myself and my family
but ideas to enhance my teaching -

lots of physical movements to weave into my daily routines,
helping to ground and orient children's bodies;
new breathing exercises, to help us calm and focus; and
new understanding and acceptance of anxiety.

Perhaps the most powerful "take away" was Ms. Carnes' repeated reminder to
work with ourselves and others
gently and compassionately...
experience what is,
be with ourselves,
in the moment,
just as we are,
gently and compassionately.

Ms. Carnes suggested that we lose one admonishment of ourselves, of others -
lose the command
When we try to fix,
the body resists.

work gently and compassionately,
experience what is -
that is how things begin to shift.

Happy summer, one and all!


  1. I do believe we live in a more stressful world and the stress and anxiety we feel is passed down to children. How can it not? It seems that nowadays everything had to be done yesterday and we don't have time to breathe because there are multiple things demanding our attention at any one time.Sometimes we just need to breathe and work on one thing at a time until it is accomplished.

  2. I love the advice, but don't like what you're observing, Maureen. Claire &Tammy have some words today from Vivian Paley about kindergarteners & play, somewhat connected to your words, too. As I said to them, we see more younger children who don't have the ideas of free play, have already been so structured that the play we imagine of a while ago is no longer there in their minds. And now you are speaking of even younger children. I hope your learning will help you, your son, & your own students!

  3. What a glorious start to your summer! I think you are right about children these days, and now you have some tools to help them. Keep enjoying every day!

  4. Enjoy your relaxing summer of weeding, reading, and painting. (BTW: I have two outdoor rockers and an outdoor table that need painting. Interested?) I think you seem to have found the key to relaxing and resetting yourself so you're fresh for the fall.

  5. Great slice! I so agree children are more stressed and the reasons are many. good for you that you will share some tools with your students!