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12. Being Present with Children

janko-ferlic-303881I find kids to be a great cross-reference for me to show me whether I am here, present with them or in my mind – if for example I’m allowing myself to go into worries and fears and concerns instead of being here with them…

I would for example be sitting and not realizing time has gone by and I was in my head until a child comes up and asks me a question. I realize  whoa wait – what did I miss? Where did the time go by? This is a serious point because time goes by and if our attention is placed around problems we keep thinking, obsessing and focusing about, we are allowing our reality and our kids to ”go on by” without our attention, guidance and direction – and in some cases our inattention and unawareness of what is going around us can create consequences in reality we don’t want to experience.

Kids are also exceptionally great at testing you for real-time change. There was a specific moment where I was not happy in how I interacted with a parent. I wish I could have said and done something better and I dipped into this low-experience of judging myself but soon enough kids came into my presence and ”interrupted” me from this experience – rattling me out of the mood, present, physical, needing me HERE with them.  I saw this very clearly the distinction of what matters – what matters is for me to be present, here, stable with the kids. They are what matters. They need an adult ”here” in reality because they are here in reality.

I’d say you really see who you are and where you place importance when you are with kids. Kids are very physical, very ”in-tune” with themselves and their bodies. They don’t think or have so many thoughts like us – they live in the present, they express themselves unconditionally, they are HERE in reality, and they will naturally interrupt or snap us back to reality with their questions, their need of our presence, their tugs at our arm or a grab of our hand… THEY NEED US and so we need to BE THERE for them.

Suggested Steps to Assist in Remaining Present with Children:

  • Acknowledge what we are so pre-occupied with in our heads (ie: what are the emotions, experiences or unresolved issues you can’t seem to understand or forgive, in fact)
  • Help yourself to find the resources and tools you need to resolve these issues that are unresolved and busy mulling around in your head. Match the emotions to specific memories and walk forgiveness to release yourself, gain clarity and realizations. These personal issues you have can take up so much space and energy in your self and body to the point where it’s hard to stay present with the kids. Kids need you to be present here with them, just as you would have liked your parents/adults to be present and with you when you were a kid.
  • Be consistent in supporting yourself, taking care of yourself and resolving points in you on a daily, moment-by-moment basis to ensure you keep your body and self working properly, steady, and strong.

 

Recommended Resources:

DIP Lite – Free Self-Development Course

EQAFE.com – Self-Perfection Merchandise

School of Ultimate Living – Life Creation through Words

 

Additional Support:

Parenting – Perfecting the Human Race

Extraordinary Parenting: Leila Zamora Moreno

Teacher’s Journey to Life with Anna Brix Thomsen

8. A Sound Environment for Children in the Classroom

sound-enviroment-for-a-child”When is it 2 o’clock?” (pick-up time)

”How many hours until circle time?”

”When is Lunch?”

I’ve been getting individual children asking me these questions shortly after the work session starts (a 3 hour work session where children are encouraged / directed to work with the Montessori materials and activities provided).

At first I was suspicious by their questions, but dropped it and made using the clock fun by showing the children how many hours we have until that time, sometimes making sounds of play as I moved my fingers around the clock, other times I would count the hour when I hit the 12 mark to make the process more interesting.  

Then more children started to individually ask me what time was circle time and what time was lunch time during our work session.

I asked a little boy once if the reason he is asking me is because he wants to go home. He said honestly yes, and I said ”well, what do you do want to do when you go home?” and he said he wanted to play soccer (football) with his dad.

It makes me concerned these children already 10-20 minutes into the morning work session are already wanting to go home. This is a huge problem… Is something going on the environment that is preventing them from enjoying themselves?

In my personal experience, I do find the way things are run in my classroom are not ideal which may contribute to children not being very happy. In this series I will walk through the problems I see and will add in my perspectives on how we can practically change them.

First of all the environment is not ideal – we are in an old building with long rooms, high ceilings and wooden floors on the second floor, so if chairs fall, glasses clink together, chairs scrape against the floor, or someone yells, the sound reverberates and echoes louder than usual. This causes many children and teachers to complain of the noise-volume, which affects stress levels, and disrupts work. When it becomes too loud sometimes teachers becomes angry/emotional and will speak and/or act in this emotion, that ripples in the classroom and affects the children. In some cases a child will cry because of the volume, so we would have to ring the triangle, remind everyone to talk in a quiet voice, but 30 minutes later it becomes loud again. These are ‘’Classroom Acoustic Problems’’ that actually harm a child’s health and learning.

There are a lot of little problems like this that contribute to making the work session environment not ideal/optimum for a child, and it’s really troubling to see children not happy and wanting to go home so early in the morning.

Practically, ideally, we require an environment/space that does not echo nor reverberate sounds for both teachers and children. Children are much more sensitive than us, so if we are going to have them work in an environment for long periods of time, we need to consider the environment and sound levels MUST fit their physical and psychological needs — they are of priority because the intention of school/classroom is FOR them to learn, grow and develop.

One way to fix the issue of tall ceilings that reverberate/echo sound is adding sound eliminator panels on the top of the wall, similar to what this classroom did here because these panels absorb sound very well, thus making the room much quieter and ‘’cosier.’’  If you’re on a budget, you can use cotton panels, which may not be the most attractive looking, but their purpose supersedes that (and children really don’t care what the room looks like). Other solutions can be adding carpets/rugs in the classroom, and more objects on the wall to block sound from bouncing off.

The most important point within this all is that the environment should be in consideration of both the child and teacher/adult’s health and wellbeing that leads/promotes optimum learning, growing and developing.

As my responsibility of a teacher’s assistant in the classroom, I will ask my team if adding panels in the classroom is a possibility, backing up my stance with research and personal examples for support, and will update you on any changes.

Thank you for reading!