I loathe indoor recess. I need fresh air. I need to move around. And my students need this too. They also need routine, and even though they can see that it’s raining outside and understand that they need to be inside, we go through the same conversation many times a day to make this happen. I remember last week when it was pouring rain and we stayed in. One SK student turned to me and said, “My body needs me to go outside.” How can I argue with this?! Yet, I had to.
It was on this very same day that I could feel my stress level rising. I don’t know how to explain it, but the feeling is like a rumble in my stomach, and I know that I just have to breathe deeply to feel better. I happened to have a prep Period 5, and I needed to call a parent, so I found a quiet area in the kitchen to call. When I was coming back down the hallway, I saw a student outside with a teacher. She was talking quietly to him, and they both said, “hi,” as I walked past. It turned out that this child didn’t want to go back to class. He was also struggling with the stress that comes from indoor recess.
At this point, I got down on my knees and looked at him in the eye. I said, “I’m having a difficult day today. Are you having a hard one too?” He said, “Yes.” I replied, “We just have to get through one more period. It’s going to be hard, but maybe we can do so together. I’ll try if you will.” He looked at me and said that he would. Then he turned and headed back into the classroom and I headed back down the hallway to our room.
When I walked inside, I knew it was going to be a challenge. A large group of students were doing an Easter craft with my prep coverage teacher. There was a mess everywhere. The room was loud, and I was finding it hard to think. I then looked into the back corner of the room, near the bathroom. There was a small group of students using our gardening supplies to make music. The area is a bit more enclosed, but I could still see the whole room from there. Perfect!
I took a deep breath and headed that way. I then spent the next 20 minutes making music with a small group of interested students. I positioned myself in such a way that I could block out some of the noise and some of the mess, but still see what the children were doing. I calmed down. I had fun. While tidy up time was still a challenge, I thought of this other student, and I made it through.
I saw the child from the hallway at the end of the day, and I asked how he did. He said that he stayed in the classroom, and I said that I also did. We gave each other a high five. Maybe, sharing our feelings and both taking on the challenge to make it through the day, helped each of us as we self-regulated. Or maybe this is an example of co-regulation? Either way, this experience was a great reminder that adults and children can experience stress, and sometimes, we can help each other make it through these stressful times. Have you ever had a similar experience? I’d love to hear about it. Now here’s to hoping for a week of outdoor recesses. 🙂