Forget About New Year’s Resolutions

That’s right, forget about New Year’s Resolutions.  Try Reflective Practice instead.

Forget the pressure for everything to be perfect and to change all your bad habits when the calendar flips over to January. Instead of New Years’ Resolutions I’ve taken to a Reflective Practice for 2018. This is a more gentle exercise to reflect on what your year has been like and what the important themes are for the year to come. And the beauty of it …. they don’t have to be done on the 1st of January. I like doing mine in the middle of January, when I’ve eased back into work and given myself some time to suss things out. You can do yours on any day where you can carve out about an hour to reflect on the past as well as the coming year.

THE STEPS TO REFLECTIVE PRACTICE ARE:

STEP 1
Find a nice spot where you feel comfortable. This can be in your favourite coffee shop, under a tree in your garden, or on your favourite couch in the living room. I recommend a notepad and pen rather than a laptop or i-pad for this exercise – there is just something about working on paper that takes us into our sensory selves.

STEP 2
It’s helpful to just go through your year quickly. Take a diary or just think about 2017 and write down the ‘bullet points’ of what happened in the year. These should include more than your traditional accomplishments – you can write down meeting a new person or starting a new hobby, or even a moment you specifically remember.

STEP 3
There are 12 important questions to ask yourself.  Here are some tips to help you along:

  • You don’t have to rush through them, take your time.
  • Go back to a question later if you wish.
  • There is no right or wrong.
  • Let go of judgement.
  • Breathe.
  • Write slowly. Usually, the first thing that gets into your mind is the one you need to write on.

QUESTIONS

  1. What stands out about 2017?  This can be any moment, usually the first that comes to your mind.
  2. Which relationship deepened last year? A friend you got closer too, a romantic relationship that deepened… anything can qualify.
  3. What about your workspace did you enjoy a lot or made you feel good?
  4. What about your workspace did you not enjoy or was difficult for you?
  5. What did you learn about yourself during the course of 2017?
  6. When was the hardest time of 2017 and how did you navigate it successfully?
  7. What difficulties are you still navigating going into 2018?
  8. What surprises did 2017 hold for you? This can be something big like having a baby, or a special moment like discovering a new beach or hiking trail.
  9. What do you still care about too much that you want to let go of? This can be something like ‘other people’s opinions’, ‘money’, ‘worrying about things that won’t happen’ etc.
  10. What was the most exciting moment of 2017?
  11. Who in your life played a special role in guiding and supporting you in 2017?
  12. What was your greatest life lesson for 2017?

STEP 4
Read through the answers of your questions above. Try and see if anything stands out – maybe a specific theme comes through?  Looking towards 2018, what is your ‘theme for the year’? Try and describe it in one word and then expand on it. The word can be something like “reboot”, “gratitude”, “positivity”, “action” or whatever speaks to you…

STEP 5
Take a deep breath and enjoy your coffee  🙂

May your 2018 be filled with beautiful adventures!

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Back to school survival tips

After a long summer break, most children across South Africa went back to school last week. This is generally a busy time of getting stationery, books and uniforms ready. Going back to school can be a daunting and very anxious thing for many children and for various reasons too …

  • There are changes in routine as children have to get up early again.
  • Going back to school means wearing uniforms, closed formal shoes and blazers, instead of casual, comfortable clothes and flip flops.
  • A change of school – moving to a new school, or even to a different phase (primary to high school) – can be daunting for some children.
  • There are new teachers and timetables, and with each grade that a child moves up, there are more demands from the curriculum.
  • Some of their friends or peers may no longer go to the same school – some move to other schools, towns or countries.
  • Some children struggle to get to school due to logistical problems, like unrest or transport problems.

Helpful tips for teachers to take the stress out of going back to school:

  1. Acknowledge the feelings that the child has.
    You may not feel what the child is feeling, but let them know that you are listening and help them talk through their fears. Help children to problem solve by showing them the difference between what is really happening and what they perceive to be happening.
  2. Plan fun activities for the first few days, even with older children.
    Children take a few days to settle into their routines and they are not completely focused on school yet. Their brains are probably still in holiday mode.
  3. Prepare for rough spots.
    Be aware of what the anxious child is trying to tell you, and try to predict what may happen. The best defense that you have as a teacher is offence. Being proactive will help you stay calm and in control of any situation that may arise.
  4. Stay organised and stick to your preparation and lesson plan.
    Having your day planned helps you as a teacher to stay calm and collected and is the best way to keep your back-to-school week running smoothly.
  5. Take your classroom outside.
    It is still summer and there are no rules as to where we must teach. Just 15 minutes to teach a Science concept while using the senses will add fun, interest and a sensory experience to the learning. This also gives them a movement break which will alert and regulate the brain.
  6. Changing parent drop-off roles.
    Help parents to help their children with separation anxiety. A child may be more anxious with one parent as opposed to another. Asking parents to swop the dropping off role will help a child adjust a lot quicker to school. Encourage parents to be flexible, and not to feel guilty about it.

Despite the issues that can cause anxiety, the aim is to have happy, calm and attentive children in your class as soon as possible.  Have a wonderful year of teaching and learning and remember to take breaks during your day – this will help to keep you calm, regulated and happy!

Discover more strategies to help you stay calm, focused and comfortable by completing your Sensory Matrix™ online.