We have recently made a small change to our daily schedule that will (hopefully) generate big results: relaxation time.
We’ve noticed that our children are ALWAYS learning, and that means that they are always on the go. Many of our children experience up to 10 new activities every day – with so many new learning opportunities on offer, there’s little wonder we don’t all become overwhelmed!
Relaxation time is our solution to this. Inspired by the mindfulness movements we have devised an opportunity for our children to experience 20-30 minutes of quiet time. Each room takes this time differently – for many of the babies, relaxation time is synonymous with nap time; whereas our Caterpillars and Butterflies are learning to appreciate some quiet time during the day. Calming music is played (for anyone who would like to replicate relaxation time at home, we usually use Weightless by Marconi Union, which was created to ease anxiety and promote restfulness) and children are invited to sit or lie down and focus on their breathing.
For many children extended relaxation time can be difficult; as such, we offer focuses for the children to concentrate on. We encourage the children to rest their hands on their tummies and watch as they rise and fall with each deep breath; alternately the children are invited to watch the light patterns of a (slow-moving) disco light as it reflects on the ceiling. Sand timers and glitter jars can also be used to provide a focal point for smaller groups of children.
The benefits of mindful relaxation with children are numerous and can benefit all areas of the EYFS curriculum:
– Personal, Social and Emotional: creates feelings of calm and encourages patience which supports children to interact thoughtfully; mindfulness practices can be used to support older children to control extreme emotions (temper tantrums!).
– Communication and Language: Children use relaxation time to listen to the world around them, familiarizing themselves with sounds for auditory discrimination (a skill essential in early reading).
– Physical Development: At its core relaxation time provides an opportunity for children to digest, unwind and, if necessary, fall asleep.
– Literacy, Mathematics, Understanding the World: Relaxation time promotes focus and concentration, which are critical in learning the concepts of early literacy, mathematics and science.
– Expressive Arts and Design: Relaxation can help to refresh and reinvigorate children, so they are ready to play, explore and create!