6 RELAXATION SESSIONS FOR CHILDREN

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1 6 RELAXATION SESSIONS FOR CHILDREN CONTENT OF SESSIONS 1. Establishing a Routine. 2. Body Harmony. 3. Finding Our Own Space. 4. Muscle Knowledge. 5. Breathing Exercises. 6. Guided Imagery.

2 Adapted from Relaxation for Children by Jenny Rickard (ACER, ISBN ) Session 1 Establishing a Routine What you will need Relaxing music, mats, pictures of people relaxing (from magazines). Entering the room Put on music tape before you allow the children to enter the room and put up the posters. Explain to the children that you want them to enter the room quietly, take their shoes off and sit on the floor in a circle, listening to the music until everyone has joined the circle. Practice this several times if necessary until you get the desired result. Introduction Discuss with the children the purpose of the sessions i.e. to learn new skills and to learn how to relax properly. Introduce the definition of relaxing to the children; use the pictures from the magazines as discussion points. When discussion is exhausted then introduce the Working Circle. The Working Circle At the beginning of each session the pupils sit in a circle (illustration of Working Circle). Give the pupils the choice of joining hands. The illustration shows that they all join and work together. Explain that it helps them to slow down and be still and quiet before they begin their work. Practice this until you get the desired result. Closure Put on the music and ask children to sit in their circle listening to the music for approximately 2/3 minutes. Ask each child in turn how they feel. Did the music help them to relax? Thank the children. Ask the children to quietly put on their shoes and leave the room.

3 Session 2 - Body Harmony What you will need Relaxing music, mats, simple picture of a body Entering the room Put on the music tape before the children enter the room. Explain to the children that you want them to enter the room, take off their shoes and sit on the floor in a circle. Ask the children to arrange themselves into their Working Circle. This means they will sit in a circle (might link hands), breathe slowly and listen to the music. Allow children 2/3 minutes of this quiet time. Body Harmony Introduce the concept of body harmony - when all parts of our body work together. Discuss within the group: What do we mean by our bodies? What do our bodies do? What are some parts of our bodies? And what is their job? How can we care for our bodies? Why should we care for our bodies? Summarise the discussion and extend it to a discussion of outside and inside parts you can use the body picture to help. Explain that in order to relax properly the whole body must feel relaxed, not just certain parts of it. When we learn to relax we are actually learning how to get the parts we can see and parts we cannot see to work together so we can become calm and peaceful. Activity Body Awareness Stand with your feet apart; press your feet firmly into the carpet, first one then the other. Wiggle your toes and press them into the carpet one at a time. Touch the back of your legs feeling them gently. Now point to your knees, thighs, hips, waist and chest. Find you heart, point to where your lungs are, move your shoulders up and down. Where is your spine, point to the top and now the bottom? Think about your joints - point to one. Concentrate on your face. Raise your eyebrows, wrinkle your nose, and clench

4 your teeth. Slowly move your head from side to side. Put your chin in the air and then on your chest now look to the front. Closure Return the children to the Working Circle. Review why being aware of body parts is important for learning body harmony. Put on the music and ask children to close their eyes this time to think about what they have been doing. After about 1 or 2 minutes tell the children that the session has finished and direct them to leave the room quietly.

5 Session 3 Finding one s own space What you will need Relaxing music, mats Entering the room Put on the music before children enter the room. Tell the children you wish them to take off their shoes and get into their working circle. Allow 1 or 2 minutes of quiet time. Review the concepts explored in session 2 (body harmony and body awareness). Explain that in this session we are investigating One s Own Space. Our OWN SPACE Introduce the concept by discussing ways in which the children already have their own space e.g. When they want to be on their own, time spent in their bedroom, a favourite chair to sit and watch TV. Encourage the children to think of other places that are special for them. Introduce the idea that they can create this kind of space to help them to relax. This is referred to as Our Own Space. We need to have our own: Physical space we cannot touch others or be touched. Hearing space we cannot hear noise or make noise, which will go into the space of others. Seeing space we are not distracted; the best way to do this is to close our eyes. Mind space we no longer think of everyday things, make your mind blank, like a clean sheet of paper. Activity - Getting into Our Own Space Put on the music and ask the children to spread out quietly finding their own space. Lie down if possible on your back, tummy or side. Take the time to check each child. Check through each aspect of having Our Own Space (as above). You are now in your own space. Close your eyes gently and slowly. I shall count to ten then open your eyes slowly, (count slowly).

6 Well done (Switch off the music) Closure Bring the children back to the Working Circle. Review the meaning of having one s own space seek comments from the children. Put on the music and ask the children to close their eyes and think about what they have done in the session (allow 1 or 2 minutes). Tell the children the session is finished and direct them to leave the room quietly.

7 Session 4 Muscle Knowledge What you will need Relaxing music, mats, picture of muscles. Entering the room Put on the music tape before children enter the room. Ask the children you wish them to take off their shoes and get themselves into their Working Circle. Allow 1 or 2 minutes of quiet time. Explain that today the session will be looking at our muscles. Identify muscles. There are muscles we move ourselves and there are many more that move without us thinking about them. These do a special job inside our bodies e.g. the muscles that keep our heart beating. Muscles stretch out when they are flat and bunch up when they are being used. If we hold our muscles tight for a long period of time they become knotted and can sometimes cause pain messages to go to the brain, telling our body that we need to relax. When we relax we need to check that our muscles are not tight or tense but loose and floppy. Activity Muscle Exercises Ask the children to stand in their own space. Using expression in your voice begin with: I want you to make yourself into a tall, tall tree. A floppy, floppy rag doll. A long, long straight flagpole. A wobbly, wobbly puppet. A straight traffic light. A tight coiled up spring. A loose, loose coat. A stiff fence post. A wobbly jellyfish. Direct the children back to the circle. Discuss how their bodies felt when they were being the various objects, e.g. was your body tight or floppy when you being a tall, tall tree? Ask the children to find their own space to sit or lie in. Tell them you want them to make their body tight, not let it be floppy, repeat this 4 or 5 times ending with a floppy posture. Then ask the children

8 to gently close their eyes, scrunch them up tight then release them but keep them gently closed. Now clench your teeth and relax them, now tighten your shoulders and chest; now let them go floppy (do these exercises slowly). You can continue with hands, fingers, tummy, toes etc. Closure Direct the children back to the circle. Discuss exercises as a skill for using their muscles and that this skill is essential for developing body harmony. Ask for comments on the connection between relaxation and knowing about our muscles. Explain that our bodies are wonderful and we must respect them, this means that we should treat them properly. It is our job to keep them healthy inside and outside. Put on the music and ask the children to close their eyes and think about the session. Allow 1 or 2 minutes. Ask the children to leave the room quietly.

9 Session 5 Breathing Exercises What you will need Relaxing music, mats Entering the room Put on the tape before children enter the room. Tell the children you wish them to take off their shoes and get into the Working Circle. Allow 1 or 2 minutes of quiet time. Start the discussion by asking the children what they have remembered from the last session (muscle knowledge). Today we are going to explore different ways in which we can breathe. Activity Breathing Exercises Ask the children to sit in their own space and observe their own breathing. Are they breathing through their nose or mouth? Is their breathing slow or fast? Ask the children to slowly breathe in through their nose and out through their nose. Repeat this 3 times. Now place your hands tightly on your waist and move them upwards until you reach your ribcage. Rest your fingers on the edge of your ribcage and be still and quiet. Feel your muscles working, feel the gentle up and down movement as you breathe in and out. Now place your hands just above your chest and again be still and quiet. Feel your breathing; it should be quiet, steady and even. Now we are going to try some CLEANSING BREATHS. This is good for getting stale air out of our lungs. It is a good idea to do this first thing in the morning or when you are feeling tired. Stand with your feet apart. Bend from the waist, taking your arms to the floor and as you do this slowly breathe out. Then cross over your arms and come back up breathing in slowly. Bring your arms around in a circle until they are above your head. Now I shall count to 4 and I want you to bring your arms downs to your sides pushing out the breath slowly through your mouth until your arms are by your side. Wait for 1 or 2 seconds and repeat 5 times. Now that you have cleansed your lungs we will do some DEEP BREATHING. Lie down in your own space. Breathe in slowly and send your breath down to your toes. Exhale slowly and send your breath up from your toes and slowly

10 out of your nose or mouth. Repeat this 5 times. Then ask the children to put their hands on their chests again and ask the children to feel their breathing. Closure Slowly and quietly return to the Working Circle. Discuss with the children what happened to their bodies when they were controlling their breathing. How do they feel? Was it easy to slow down their breathing? Can the children name situations where they might want to control their breathing? E.g. If they were frightened, excited, angry, overtired or anxious. Now put on the music and ask the children to close their eyes and think about what they have done in the session. Allow 1 or 2 minutes. Ask the children to leave the room quietly.

11 Session 6 Guided Imagery What you will need Relaxing music, mats, certificates Entering the room Put on the tape before the children enter the room. Tell the children that you wish them to take off their shoes and get into the Working Circle. Allow 1 or 2 minutes of quiet time. Explain to the children that you would like them to practice some deep breathing (from last session) during this quiet time. Introduce the concept of Guided Imagery. Today I want each of your to use your brain to make pictures in your mind of your special place and I want you to imagine that you are in that special place Activity Guided Imagery Put on the music tape and direct the children to find their own space. Tell the children to think of their own special place in their minds and imagine that they are there. Use the dialogue and repeat slowly. Now you are in your special place in your mind I want you to look up and see large fluffy clouds in the sky above you. There is one special white fluffy cloud. Watch as it slowly floats down towards you and stops just near you. As it is a special cloud, you lie down on it. It is so soft and comfortable; you sink down, down, into its wonderful softness. Slowly your big white fluffy cloud gently begins to float up, up, up, into the sky. Now you are floating along on your cloud. You are so light and free and you gently, gently, glide along. It is so quiet and peaceful. Rest now and enjoy the wonderful peacefulness. Let the children listen to the music for approximately 1 minute. Now your cloud must leave you. It glides down and comes to rest in your special place. Slowly step off it and watch as it floats away, high, high, into the sky. Now it is time for you to leave your special place, so find your secret door and let yourself out. Now you are back in the room. Stretch your body and then relax. Roll onto your left side and stretch. Roll onto

12 your right side and stretch. Now as I begin to count, slowly begin to sit up. When I get to 5 sit up with your eyes open. Now stand stretch up, up and relax. Well done. Closure Direct the children back to the Working Circle. Discuss the skills they have learnt over the past weeks. Encourage discussion about using these skills in their everyday life to help them relax and be calm. Talk about situations when it would be useful e.g. when feeling angry, when faced with a difficult task to do. Present the children with their certificates. This should be done in a fairly formal way to increase its significance and reinforce the importance of the work. When giving out the certificates make some personal, encouraging statement to each student. It might also be appropriate got the certificates to be presented at a special assembly.

13 ALTERNATIVE SUGGESTIONS FOR GUIDED IMAGERY Discuss briefly with the pupils the skill of using the brain to make pictures in their mind. Stress that these pictures are images and they can use them to relax and feel good about themselves. Then direct them to lie in their own space. Let any tightness go, and relax the muscles until they are floppy. Become aware of your breathing and begin to slow it down, by saying to yourself, slowly in, slowly out, slowly in, slowly out. Concentrate on my voice as you make pictures in your mind. I want you to think of the space you are in. Feel yourself in this quiet space. Now build a wall around your space. See the wall in your mind. It is a high strong wall. (Pause 5 seconds) Can you see a secret door in your wall; it is painted in your favourite colour. Slowly open the door and let yourself into your special space, making sure that you shut the door tightly behind you. Look around your space and find that special something you like to lie on; a bed, a sofa, a soft rug, maybe some smooth grass, some warm white sand, or a bed of soft feathers. In your mind you are lying down it is so soft and comfortable. Let yourself sink into the softness, down, down, into the softness. Your whole body becomes light and soft, calm and peaceful, calm and peaceful. (Pause for 5 seconds). Today, there is a light breeze blowing. It gently blows your hair and touches your face. It is a cool, cool (or warm according to the season) breeze that is gentle and light. Feel it softly touching your hair and your face and gently blowing around your body, so that you are cool (warm) calm and peaceful. Your gentle, soft breeze has a wonderful smell. Take a deep breath and smell the breeze as it gently blows around you making you cool (warm) calm and peaceful. Quietly switch on the music and allow the children to remain quiet and peaceful for 2/3 minutes. Then slowly turn the music down as you say: Get ready now to leave your space and the gentle breeze. In your mind I want you to stretch your body and then relax it. I want you to leave your lying space and stretch your body again. Find your secret door and open it, let yourself out shutting the door behind you. You are back in the room. Stretch your body and then relax. Roll onto your left side and stretch. Roll onto your right side and stretch. now relax. As

14 I begin to count slowly, very slowly begin to sit up. When I reach to 5 you will be sitting up with your eyes open. Now stand up and relax. SELF-ESTEEM AND LANGUAGE WORK Language-based activities can enhance children s esteem by validating their thoughts and ideas. DREAM JOURNEYS Taking children on dream journeys helps them experience the power of their own imagination and can be used therapeutically. Remind the children that they can make free choices about their journey and who they will meet on the way. Ask children to sit with their eyes close. Let them sit quietly for a minute or two before starting, to create a calm mood in the room. You may need a DO NOT DISTURB note. Tell them they are going on a dream journey, so they need to close their eyes to help them travel. The journey needs to be very safe for children and the details really matter. Afterwards let children take some time to think about the ending of their dream oooooooo You feel a warm gentle breeze on your face. Your arms are stretched out wide. The warm air rises up beneath your arms and they feel light. As you look out along your arm to the tips of your outstretched fingers you see that they have become the most beautiful soft feathers and your arm is a wing. You feel happy and calm as the wind begins to lift you up through the tall grasses, above the trees and away over the rooftops. As you look down, the houses and people far below you are very clear. Flying seems so easy. You turn on the wind and drift down towards the fields and trees below. You feel that you could do anything or go anywhere. You think about the things you have left behind. There are some things that you are beginning to miss. You let yourself drift down slowly through the treetops to a small group of houses. One house stands out from the rest. It seems warm and safe.

15 The sun is shining through the leaves and on to the windows. You fly down to look inside one of the windows. The room is a special place, just for you and there s someone there you want to see

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