We are honored to participate in a fun “blog hop” called “The ABC’s of Teaching Preschool“, organized by the awesome Deborah of Teach Preschool! Today she reached an incredible milestone of 20,000 “likes” on her Facebook page! Deborah does so much to support early childhood professionals with her blog and her presence on social media – that we are thrilled to be able celebrate with her today! Each participating early childhood blogger has taken a letter of the alphabet and come up with some fun and helpful tips that you can use with the young children in your care!
We chose the letter “R” for “Relaxation” … I’ll bet you are thinking “who gets to RELAX when we’re at preschool!”. Well, children and teachers alike all need to find time to take a break in their day to relax and take a breath. As a parent or an early childhood provider, there are times when you need to help your child (or children in your care) to relax. Whether it be to transition from active play to rest time, or to calm a child who is upset; young children often times need assistance to learn the skills they need to relax themselves.
Below are a few ideas that you can use at home or at your school or child care center that you can do with your child. These ideas were shared with us by Michelle Catania, MFT during our Healthy Kids workshops in April 2011.
Relaxation bean bags: You can make “relaxation bean bags” to use in activities that will help your child (or children in your care) to relax. These are even great to help a group of children to wind down before nap or rest time. Fill socks with 1-2 cups of rice (depending on the size you want to make). If desired, add 2 drops of fragrance oil for a sensory experience (try lavender for a relaxing scent).
Mix the scent around in the socks so that it gets distributed throughout the rice. Tie the sock closed with ribbon. Choose 2-4 different types of ribbon to tie around the end of the sock. Using different textures of ribbon can add a tactile experience to the bean bag that many children find relaxing.
The weight and texture of the bean bag can be comforting to young children. They can put the bean bag on their shoulder, balance it on the back of their neck, squeeze it in their hand to release tension, rub the textured ribbon to soothe them, etc. You can have children use the relaxation bean bag on it’s own, or with one of the activities below.
Withering flower activity - Have child/children pretend to be a flower starting as a seed (they can do this activity with or without the relaxation bean bags described above). Then have them pretend the flower is starting to bloom and grow, stretching up. If they are using the bean bag, have them balance the bean bag in their hands as they stretch up. Turn off the lights and children slowly wither to the ground.
Balancing Act - Have child/children lay on backs and point their feet in the air. Have them keep their feet horizontal and try to balance bean bag (or other object) so it doesn’t fall.
Another way that teachers can assist young children in relaxing is by creating a quiet space in the classroom. A ‘be-bymyself’ space can be set aside in the classroom for a child to use when he or she feels overwhelmed, upset, or tense. This serves as a protected place where children are taught to go to in order to relax, calm down, or take a break.
(Relaxation activities are adapted from the book “101 relaxation games for children: finding a little peace & quiet in between” by Allison Bartl)
Be sure to check out all the other “ABC’s of Teaching Preschool” by clicking on the button below!