Children need space too

Whilst I am a passionate advocate for education, I worry that we are overloading our children with information, and setting expectations that just rob these young minds of their love of learning.

As a teacher, I know children who are constantly busy with extra-curricular activities–sports clubs, language exams in the evening, tutoring at weekends.  They spend six hours a day with us at school, expected to listen carefully and work hard, and some barely get a chance to breathe before heading off to another class.

After-school clubs and hobbies are great, but giving a child space and silence is just as important.

They need time alone to develop their own interests, to play, to build, to create, to imagine, to explore.  The world is so busy and so colourful, so full of noise and all sorts of sensory stimuli that can overwhelm not just children with special needs, but your average child.  (And your average adult.)

I try to build as many small spaces, movement breaks, quiet reading time, into the school day as I can.  It is not always easy with our schedule as packed as it is, but if I need space to regroup and take a breath, then surely it’s vital that seven year olds get that moment of calm too?

The children in my class often ask for our “relaxing music” when they are doing independent writing.  Sometimes they’re content with silence.  Some children ask to sit alone at the table by the window so that they can concentrate.  Sometimes they’re happy with the group, being vocal and joining in with discussions about their work.  Sometimes vibrant and interactive displays are necessary.  Sometimes a blank, white wall is preferable.

The constraints of the classroom are many, but I believe as teachers that we can help to give our children the moments of space and quiet that they need throughout the day, whilst maintaining those high expectations of learning.  We are teaching a packed curriculum, but I believe our first duty is to cater for the whole child.  I know many children who are like human calculators, but cannot handle challenge, do not know how to socialise with others, and cannot cope with being alone and having to entertain themselves for a while.

I’d love to see children given a little more space and time, at home and at school, to develop their own interests and to just simply be.  

These life skills are so vital to our mental health and our ability to cope with anxiety, and in stressful situations.  But they don’t always come naturally.  They need to be taught.

About Louise

8 thoughts on “Children need space too

  1. Oh, Belle, you’ve hit a hot button with me!!
    Public school is so detrimental is so many ways, in my opinion.
    When I taught Kg, they weren’t even allowed naps, or recess, and PE was only 3 days a week! IT was tantamount to child abuse, in my book!

  2. Very interesting articles. Look forward to reading and joining the discussion. If I may make a suggestion – there appears to be no distinction between the posts. I had to read them all in one go and seemed to be at odds with the minimalist theme 😀 It was only when I saw the comment widget that I realized that they were different posts. The like buttons would help to distinguish between posts I think.

    1. Thank you for your feedback, Dahlia! I am still getting to grips with the technical tweaks, so your comments are helpful. It’s good to have you as a reader. Have a great Sunday. 🙂

  3. Teachers give too much homework that takes up all the freedom time of teens. In my classes and in the schools in which I taught, usually the college bound did the homework but in regular, honors and basic levels 80% never did homework and of the 20% that did most of it was copied from others. So what is the point of homework ? Then administrators want to know why a teacher issues so many failing grades. Well if I gave just one assignment a week that would be nine 0’s every grading period. Thanks for your recent visit to my blog.

  4. This is a beautiful post and a great reminder. Children are so stressed out nowadays. It makes me sad, but then so are parents and it’s trickling down. Your students are lucky you give them that space and solitude.

    1. Thank you so much, Kim. I agree about the pressure and stress ‘trickling down’. It’s the same in the workplace, unfortunately. I appreciate your reading and commenting!

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