Today was a difficult morning for one of our children. The lead teacher in his classroom was absent, and so the morning just felt different, and what this child likes is the familiar and the routine. Change is difficult.
Sometimes when a child is having a difficult morning, it can be helpful to find a legitimate reason for the child to engage in big work. This can even be outside of the classroom. Removing the child from the classroom in a kind way can allow the other children in the classroom to settle, while big works can help the child to feel useful and helpful. Gross motor activities can help a child use up excess energy.
Today the child and I got a lunchroom ready for lunch. We took down all of the chairs and set them under the table, ready for the children. Then we emptied the recycling bins, which also allowed us to go outside in the cool, damp air. That felt so good. Next, after all of our work, we had to give our hands a good scrub and wash. Playing in the water helped the child to relax. Other big work activities that can serve the same purpose include emptying the trash, washing windows or walls, raking leaves, shoveling snow, digging in the garden, watering plants, scrubbing tables. Some children enjoy collecting the mail, or distributing mail to cubbies.
The same sort of activities can also help at home. Other big work activities can be emptying the dirty laundry hampers, emptying or loading the dishwasher, stacking groceries, helping to make the beds, sweeping a floor.
This really makes sense to me. As an adult, can you imagine how good it would feel if you were angry to clean a rug the old fashioned way ~ with a rug beater. As an adult, activities like chopping or stacking wood, or raking leaves or kneading bread by hand can be rhythmic and soothing. So can going for a run or a long walk!
It’s something to keep in mind when your child next seems out of sorts, agitated, unhappy or restless. Put the big muscles to work to calm the mind and soul!
One school I visited had a selection of weights in the classroom. The children could carry these weights around the classroom, or exercise with the weights. I bet they fulfilled some of the same need as big work ~ the need to work off excess energy and engage our big muscles. I would love to have a set of weights like this for use by the children. If anyone has used weights in the classroom, I would love to hear from you.