I sat with one of my Pre-Kindergarten teachers this week. She wanted to discuss her class. It seems that since returning from winter break, the children were unfocused and incapable of moving forward in their classroom curriculum. The question was, should they push forward through the proverbial wall or pause.
As an American (and a New Yorker at that!) my knee jerk reaction is to push forward, break through the wall. As a yogi I am a devout fan of the pause. I know that after an especially difficult yoga position, I look forward to the pause so that I can steady my breath and absorb my body’s reaction to the move and energy flow. The pause is as important to my growth, as the position (action) was.
Practicing not to react (pause) but rather absorb what was being asked; I paused and gave her the answer (I think) she was hoping to hear. Pause. Step back allow them to absorb what they have been learning, review, pause, relax, so they can integrate it into their base knowledge. Pushing forward at this juncture might cause them undue stress. Back off the curriculum, and enjoy the children and their many facets for a little while.
The curriculum at the preschool is very advanced and we teach and hold the expectation that all children can and will read before they leave our program. Holding back is not a recommendation you often hear from me. My belief is, that children learn at an extremely fast pace and need to be continually challenged; but it goes hand-in-hand with respect for the Art of Teaching. A well balanced program views the children as complete human beings with abilities and challenges, which need to be stretched and nurtured.
The pause allows each child to adjust to the new information, absorb and digest it. Then when they are restored, we can once again move forward. When teachers do not respect the pause, they may run into resistance, as the children cling to old ways or shut down. If children reach the point that the information is coming at them too fast and they have not been able to use the information they have, they will shut down. (This also applies to people learning new information at any age).
When a child shuts down, they can manifest their frustration in many ways. Most of them negative but some of them will be less obvious and difficult to see. They may act babyish or unfocused or just plain silly, hoping to distract from the curriculum.
A pause is just that, a temporary break in an activity before continuing. The pause is short but sweet, knowing full well we will once again move forward. They will return to the curriculum refreshed and strengthened because their foundation has had a chance to solidify. A strong foundation is the basis for a solid structure. So we pause and respect the integrity of the child.
Peace & Light,