Children need the right conditions in which to grow and be happy and healthy. To provide such conditions we have to know as much as possible about what we need to do in order to function optimally. The Alexander Technique is the missing link here. It provides an understanding of how we function that is missing from all educational theory.
As children progress through the education system they usually become increasingly stressed and out of balance. This is inevitable when the education system itself is stressed and out of balance. Some children find ways of coping with this but some do not, with many feeling as if they are failing at a frighteningly young age. The ones who cope, or appear to cope, carry this stress and imbalance throughout their lives. Many will go on to manifest symptoms of related ill health and unhappiness as teenagers and adults.
Every child has the right to be shown that deep inside them there is something valuable, something worth listening to, something sacred and worthy of our trust. Only when we believe in ourselves can true learning take place. Only then can we risk being curious and allow ourselves to experience wonder and delight. This is the natural state of the small child and we invest much time and effort in educating it out of them.
It seems crazy that, at the same time, many of us are spending our time, (and often lots of our money) trying to find our way back to self-belief, back to the wisdom of these children.
We need to provide the optimum conditions for our children to feel safe, to find balance and to feel nurtured. If we understand how the self comes into balance when the head, neck, back relationship is flowing correctly we can create conditions conducive to this flow. In this balanced state the child is free from stress and able to function efficiently. A happy learner is a good learner. A moving learner is an effective learner.
Learning how to allow the self to stay in balance and how to re-find that balance when it is lost is the most amazing and unusual skill to possess. It should be taught to every child in every school. It is far more important than any other skill because if you have this ability in place it makes learning everything else much easier. If you are functioning well it is axiomatic that you can then perform well at whatever you are doing. You may not become a genius or champion runner for example, but you will be much more likely to feel good about yourself and your achievements while accepting happily that you can’t be the best at everything.
At Educare we teach children how to not interfere with – and thus activate – the free balancing mechanism that is located at the point where the base of the skull meets the top of the spine (the atlanto-occipital joint). When this mechanism (called by Alexander ‘The Primary Control’) works correctly the head balances freely on the top of the spine. This enables the rest of the body to be balanced and to start to function optimally. The whole self is affected, not just muscles and bones.In order to remember to activate the Primary Control in all situations we start to teach the children to put in a STOP between the stimulus and their response to the stimulus. We STOP in order to re-organise ourselves to ensure that the Primary Control is allowed to work. Then we respond. This can be taught as a part of any activity. To aid all this teaching we also make sure that the classroom environment is conducive to good use of the self.
At Educare we use Trip Trap Chairs and appropriately sized stools. Chairs are colour-coded and adjusted to different sizes. Each child knows which size/colour is right for them.
An ideal alternative to school assembly
‘Thinking and learning are not all in our head. On the contrary, the body plays an integral part in all our intellectual processes from our earliest moments right through to old age. It is our body’s senses that feed the brain environmental information with which to form an understanding of the world and from which to draw when creating new possibilities. And it is our movements that express knowledge and facilitate greater cognitive function as they increase in complexity. This is the conclusion which neuroscientific research supports in ever richer detail.’
Carla Hannaford, Ph.D
Each day at Educare begins with Movement Circle. Everyone practices a unique, structured mixture of movements drawn from many sources.Then we are ready to play and learn.
An opportunity for relaxation and focus
‘I probably like best about Educare, the space and the freedom. You get a lot of space for yourself. When I say freedom, well you can say what you want to the teachers and you can put your impact in there. I think you have freedom to do stuff more than I think is done in other schools. We do Quiet Time here. That gives you a lot of space for yourself. That is something that is really nice and powerful.’
Hannah Oxford aged 10
After lunch each day everyone lies down. We listen to beautiful music and practice Hook-ups, Alexander Technique and meditation. When I am on site I can do some Alexander hands-on work and the older children can help me.
Many Alexander Teachers world-wide have now taken the Developing Self Education Training Course. They can teach some of the procedures that are in place at Educare Small School including Educare Movement Circle and Educare Quiet Time.
Use the link below to find a teacher in your area or contact us and we will try to put you in touch with someone.