Monday, September 26, 2016

Starting the day

This year, once a week, Walter is passing along an e-mail to parents including short summaries from each classroom teacher.  This digest reveals a brief description about what was done in various content areas.  It gives parents a glimpse into what their child has done in each class during the week. It also gives parents insight into how the SK curriculum progresses from kindergarten to 8th grade.  

For a more in depth explanation about why we are doing particular activities in the classroom, please stay tuned to "Our Classroom Blog".  Once a month, I will focus on one curriculum area or project.  Since this is my first post of this type for the year, I thought I would start at the beginning, the beginning of the day, that is.  Our "Quiet Minutes" time.

Almost everyday, our class starts with "Quiet Minutes".  This is a time to stop the morning rush, slow down, and prepare for the day ahead.  It is a time to calm our bodies and minds. At the beginning of the year, we start with a relatively short time, one minute, and increase the quiet minutes each week until we reach five minutes.  This is not an easy task.  As we all know, time is relative.  One minute can seem like an incredibly long time, when you have to be still and quiet.

Why do we take time out of the day to just sit quietly? 

Here are a couple things that are accomplished during these few quiet minutes:

- it promotes self control. Learning to be silent and still for a full minute or two, helps attain self-control that can be available at other times in the day. 

-it sets a mood for the rest of the day
-it is a time to practice calmly techniques, that can be used through out the day
Still not convinced? 

You may want to read Amanda McClure's article  "From Silence to Stillness" found on the NAIS (National Association for Independent Schools) site. She points to:
- findings by Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn work at UMass Medical School that "mental stillness" helps reduce stress

-a study, lead by Sara Lazar of Harvard Medical School, found "meditation practice can promote cortical plasticity" which is important in "cognitive and emotional processing".

- an observation silent times done in a group, "communal stillness" helps reinforce the "normalcy and healthiness" of taking time for contemplation. 

In Julian Treasure's talk "How Can We All Listen Better"( TED Radio Hour) he states that "Just three minutes a day of silence is a wonderful exercise to ... recalibrate so that you can hear the quiet again."  This exercise leads to better listening skills though out the day.

Please feel free to join us any morning and find out for yourself how a few "Quiet Minutes" can impact your day.

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