The life of a being an educator, while rewarding, is never easy and we always seem to to be running. Preparation, finding new ways to engage our children, meetings to attend.
You know you are busy. Sometimes you always feel tired. But did you know that our surroundings have an impact on how we feel? When we are around people arguing, we feel tense. When in a traffic jam, our heart rate begins to climb and we start to get frustrated. When singing in a choir, or working out at the gym in a group setting, we can feel invigorated and uplifted. That is because we “entrain” to our surroundings.
It is a fact of physics that less energy is used when 2 objects are entrained with each other. In other words, we expend less energy when we are in step with the surrounding energy or we expend a lot more energy when we are not in sync with the greater surrounding energy. Haven’t you noticed that when you have not had much sleep, you’re frustrated, you are busy with your home life, you just seem to lose patience faster than on other days?
Our bodies contain an autonomic mechanism that syncs you up with strong, external rhythms, pulses or beats, a phenomenon known as entrainment. You can’t control it, it happens. There are things you can do to help but you need to be very aware of a downside.
When you entrain to a hectic pace, it contributes to making you feel exhausted. Our genes are not programmed to function at such a fast pace and we don’t know how to slow down, how to get our body rhythms to entrain at a slower rhythm. This problem isn’t only affecting us as educators.
Think of the children in your care. They come to us from all sorts of homes with varying speeds of living. Most are exposed to hectic lifestyle and surroundings as busy Mums drag children around as they try to get things done. It is a face of this day and age that things are faster, more on the go than they have ever been. Well the children in your care will entrain to the pace of those surroundings. Think about when you have had a really busy day out rushing here and there. Often your own children will be more irritable and fussy.
If we do not train the children in our care (and ourselves) to slow down and change the pace our bodies are entrained to, we end up burnt out and emotionally and energetically depleted as adolescents and adults.
It can also be difficult managing the different paces children are naturally entrained to when they arrive in your classes or rooms, into a melting pot of varying scales of speed.
SO WHAT CAN WE DO TO CREATE A MORE CALM ATMOSPHERE?
The most beneficial thing you can do for you and your child is to stop with them for a few minutes a day and just do nothing. You might do any of the following:
- Have the children lie down together and listen to a piece of music
- Go outside and lie in the shade on a blanket and listen to the nature sounds
- Lie in a makeshift cubby together under a table with a cloth thrown over it. Use a torch to make dancing starts on the roof.
- Provide quiet spaces in the room during free play so children have an option if they are feeling overwhelmed
The key is CONSISTENCY. Make it a ritual EVERY day. We need to provide our bodies an opportunity to stop, slow down and entrain to a slower pace. It allows us to regroup, to breathe and to relax. As a daily ritual, you then have the tool to use when they are overwhelmed, having a meltdown or tantrum or feeling anxious. It doesn’t matter what age they are now, start the routine. It doesn’t have to be long, just a few minutes each day or evening at the end of the day, but it has to be every day.
I promise, it will make a difference to the overall feel of your class. You will be less stressed and so will they. It is something that is simple to do but the rewards are massive.