Popular media portrays taking a bath as relaxing and restorative. Both of my daughters LOVE baths and have ever since they were kids. They love adding bubbles and bath bombs and lighting candles and dim the lights and have music playing. It's a whole experience! But in our online discussion we found that we have a whole group of us, myself included, who have dubbed ourselves the bath-haters club. One participant said that when she takes a bath, she thinks, "How long do I have to sit in here before I'm relaxed?"
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For some people - relaxation and restoration; for others not so much!
Others felt the same way about massage - instead of feeling relaxed and restored, they felt anxious and uncomfortable and could hardly wait for it to be over.
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Time seems to be one way to gauge whether or not a practice is restorative. If you lose track of time because you are so engaged, so relaxed, so 'in the zone' then likely this is restorative for you. If you are watching the clock, waiting for the end, then probably not.
As teachers, we want to share a variety of restorative practices with our students so that they can determine what helps them to reduce tension and restore their energy when they feel like they are running low. What works with some students may not work for others, and what works one day may not work another day. A mandatory whole class meditation session every day after recess for every student is not going to be effective any more than if there was a mandatory whole staff meditation session at lunch every day. Would you look forward to that and find it restorative? Or would you be like the members of the bath-haters club - watching the clock, wondering how much longer and waiting for it to be over?
Instead, we want to provide our students with a variety of strategies and help them to notice when they need to reduce tension and restore energy, and learn how they can do so in a way that is appropriate in the classroom and doesn't deter from the learning of others. For some of our students, being outside at recess is the restorative practice - running, playing, talking with friends, being outside in the fresh air. Other strategies might include sensory bottles, flexible seating, snacks, getting a drink of water, breathing exercises, and stretching/yoga.
Some classrooms I've visited have a self-regulation corner, shelf or area where students can access materials when they need them. We have posters in our classroom that tell our students 'what good readers do' or 'what to do when you're finished you work.' Why not a co-created poster with self-reg strategies that can be added to throughout the year? What could this individualized self-reg look like in your classroom?
One last word from the Bath-haters club: