Structured Reflection for Unstructured Days - Breathing Space

Impromptu trips to the grocery store for baking goods (not for toilette paper!) to supply a tween baking night, parents and children sidewalk chalk coloring together, and the slow, steady, aimless meandering walks led by the youngest members of families—these are some of the phenomena I have seen during this collective reprieve from the hustle and bustle of normalcy.

As a practitioner of emergent child-led programming I look largely to the interests, energies, and strengths/challenges of the children I am working with in each moment to drive the types of activities that we explore together.  I also know that structure does not necessarily mean one size must fit all.  One way to embrace the freedom of time on our hands with children of mixed ages is to summarize the day, together.

Pro Tips

  • Pre-draw lines at the top of the paper/board where the children will assist to complete the day and date information.  Involve the older children here to write.
  • Notice the children’s grip while drawing/writing- might they be better supported developmentally with a different type of implement?
  • Why work on the floor? Space, access, and postural strengthening!
  • Ask precise questions. Children this age operate in the concrete, “Did you have fun today?” might receive a conditioned yes or no response, but it’s not an effective reflective exercise. Instead try: “James, what did you find in the puddle today, a stick or a rock?” 
  • Allow about 20 minutes for the story “writing”- flow takes time to enter, and once found, is best allowed to play out.  If some folks finish sooner than others, guide a pre-established follow-up choice such as choosing a book to look through/read nearby, or if the youngest finish sooner, allow the older children to time to wrap up while you engage with other energies.
  • Once finished, read the Story aloud to the audience of creators; interpret for scribble-scrabble or ask others to help do so. Avoid phrases like: “Nice,” or “I like the blue you used,” or “Talia drew an apple.” Rather, ask: “Talia, what is the red part?” or “Jack, why did you select the blue color here?” and “We worked calmly together today.” 

 

About the author:
Megan Rynne has a background in farm and nature-based education and taught environmental science to children and adults on working farms and nature conservation sites throughout New England. Having recently completed a MA in Early Childhood Education from Shepherd University of West Virginia, with a focus on the Montessori Method and Neuropedagogy, Megan joins Breathing Space new to the field of children’s yoga. Megan has completed 60 hours of combined training from Budding Yogis of Circle Yoga (DC) and Childlight Yoga (NH) including the Teaching Yoga to Kids with Special Needs and postnatal practice trainings. Megan embarks upon a yearlong 200 hr YTT this January and looks forward to supporting her children’s training with a sound background in yoga philosophy and adult practice. Megan is originally from Boston, MA and lives with her fiance in Washington, DC. She enjoys walking, books about cognitive neuroscience and Appalachia, Ayurveda, camping and fire stories, and the “Be Present” requirement that working with children affords.

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