being a parent · ear infections · ear nose and throat · family · Uncategorized

It’s All About the Atmosphere

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I know this is a “mom blog”, but I really wanted to share a cool success story in my classroom!

I teach 3rd grade gifted. My kids are kind, loving, sweet, curious, and VERY active. Their brains are on the go constantly, but that also means so are their bodies! They are fidgety and need lots of movement! (They keep me on my toes, for sure!) I am thankful for websites like Go Noodle that provide us with some active downtime to get our jiggles out! I’ve pulled all my bag of tricks out this year to keep them active enough for their well-being, yet, calm enough for my sanity.  It’s been tricky! This week I tried something that I wasn’t sure was really going to work, but in a moment of curiosity (and desperation?) I really went all out.

I’ve always kept lamps in my classroom which are turned on daily by students first thing in the morning. I just like the warmth they provide. On Sunday I thought a lot about what new trick I could implement the upcoming week that would keep my kids motivated, yet relaxed (when needed). I searched Google, Pinterest, I asked friends. I swear I’d already tried everything I had found.

Don’t get me wrong. My kids are pretty great. They remain one of my favorite classes of my teaching career. I just knew there was something I needed to do on my end to really cut down on the talking, and at times, noise level.

Funny how ideas can come to you at the most annoying of times. Like when you’re exhausted but your mind is racing at 2 in the morning. Yeah, that’s where this idea came from.

We have a diffuser that we keep in Blake’s room and we turn it on most nights. My go-to essential oils for him are lavender, thieves, and eucalyptus. I used to think essential oils were such a joke, and I was very skeptical. That is, until Blake was getting sick CONSTANTLY and out of desperation I tried them. Once he was diagnosed with asthma things started finally looking up, and the essential oils really help him when there’s a cold coming on. I honestly also think they help him with his very excessive night-time head banging. (That’s a whole other blog post, though.) Plus, his room smells AMAZING!

Anyway, my 2 am idea was that I would try putting Blake’s diffuser in my classroom. I decided lavender would be my first shot, since it’s supposed to reduce anxiety, nervousness, and tension. (Key characteristics of some gifted children.) I figured this would help with the hyperactivity. This idea spawned a few others I had floating around, so by the time Monday morning rolled around I wanted to leap out of bed, and just get to my classroom already so I could try out my crazy ideas!

Monday morning, 7:45am. I decided to turn off ALL lights in my classroom EXCEPT the lamps. This provided just enough light for us to know what we were doing, but not enough to blind us. (Gotta love classroom fleurescennts!) I filled the diffuser with water and popped in a few drops of the French Lavender, and the aroma filled my classroom. I pulled Pandora up on my teacher computer and did a search for “calm music” and a meditation station came up. Perfect!

When my kids walked through the door they immediately began their morning routine. They commented on on how lovely it smelled, but didn’t comment much beyond that. Usually I go around the room giving a few reminders to the same couple of students who are a little bit distracted each morning. 😉 To my surprise, everyone was on task. Everyone was unpacking and starting their morning work. It was already like a new room.  It was like a Christmas morning present for me! Only quieter. 😉

We went on with our day in this manner. Only lamp lights, the scent of lavender, and meditation music. When the kids came back in from lunch a few hours later, a student went to the light switch and turned the lights on and about 6 of them yelled out “Turn it off! We like the calm!” Oh, they DID notice!

On Wednesday 1 student requested we turn the lights on as they were completing a worksheet. As soon as he asked me, I thought the rest of the class was going to ball pieces of paper up and chuck them at him. After a majority vote (17 against 1), the lights stayed off.

And they’ve been that way ever since.

Over the course of the week kids have commented to me how much they love the atmosphere and how they’ve feel they’ve been able to concentrate more. One of my MOST active and talkative boys told me that the music helped him to stay focused and he didn’t feel as anxious. He’s even been so excited for his own focus that he went home and told his mom of the changes in our room, who then told me how much her son loved it!

At the closing of today I asked kids if they wanted our classroom to remain this way and they ALL eagerly said yes!

Looks like I’ll be purchasing a diffuser for my classroom so that Blake can have his back. 😉

There’a a lady I buy my essential oils from at the Winter Garden Farmers Market, and she told me that she has been working on a classroom blend for teachers. The lavender worked quite well, but I am curious to try this one as well! Good thing the market is going on tomorrow morning!

To be honest, the whole endeavor was thought of on a whim. It was an experiment completely to see if it would work. More of a last resort before I just was going to finally conclude that these kids were just going to be who they were: Awesome, but hyper and talkative!

Even if you aren’t a teacher, and you have an overactive child at home who you think may benefit, I would highly recommend any of these strategies! It worked so well that I really want to get the word out! Teacher, parent, or even just for yourself!

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