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Keith's Corner: Entry 3: Keeping it cool

Type: Article

In his third diary entry, Keith shares some of his favourite tips for calming children down when energy levels are running high.

Working with very young children can be a lively business on most days. It’s useful to have a bunch of techniques to bring down the adrenaline level from time to time.

Cooling activities

When the children have been busy investing a lot of energy in an activity, frequently at a high volume or after an interruption, disruption or tantrum of some kind, cooling activities can be good for bringing the children down again.

Focused work, such as letter or word work, can be good for getting the children to concentrate their energy into a card, an object or a page instead of into running, jumping or shouting. We regularly spend time writing up the latest words we’ve met. Anglia School children love their notebooks, it makes them feel like they are at a big children’s school!

We’ve also discovered that doing simple exercises is a good way to focus energy and lower adrenaline levels in young children. For this reason, we bought a dozen exercise mats that we use specifically for exploring movement in a controlled manner, to do stretches or to role-play being an object or a living thing. It sounds like a cliché but lying down and listening to soothing music is a great cooler too.

Sitting down activities

Another simple cooler we’ve adopted when necessary is to get our children to sit down when doing an activity. We place chairs in a circle in the middle of the room and do our song, chant, poem, game or other activity while seated in our circle. Whatever was causing the rise in energy level can quite simply be defused by the action of sitting down.

Sorting activities

Getting the children to organize themselves in some way is a useful technique for calming them down. You can get them into a line quickly by asking them to put themselves in order alphabetically, in terms of height, smallest to tallest or tallest to smallest, or in terms of age. It’s useful to have a line marked out in paper tape on the floor for just such activities. You can then use the line and the order for a follow-up activity. Tidying up and cleaning stuff also work for Anglia School kids!

Quiet areas

Quiet areas and cool-down spots in the classroom or next door are essential. We have a carpeted space next to our mobile library where the children sometimes go to unwind, or the ’cool it’ chair just beside the door.

Arts and crafts

Taking arts and crafts seriously in class is a sure way of focusing a child’s attention. Anglia School children make all manner of curious and wonderful art in class, from painting to making penguins out of recycled plastic bottles.

Sometimes you could almost cut the silence with a knife, the air is so thick with their concentration!

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