Many new, or infrequent, teachers seem scared of “down time.” In their view, any time when the kids are not actively moving forward in a planned way is A) lost teaching time and B) chaos just waiting to happen.
What they don’t realize is that those moments can be amazing nuggets of creativity and that kids NEED that time to process the day. A personal example, I did a “Mommy and Me” class with my son. No joke, every five minutes the teacher moved us to a new activity. Intro-song-new concept-practice-song-activity…the kids could barely complete what she asked them to do before moving on to the next. What this meant is that my son, an observer who needs to warm up to things, would be just getting ready to jump in when the activity was whisked away.
So, with this fresh in my head, I went into camp determined the kids would have downtime. We had long days, lots of walking and lots of exploring. They needed a chance to process and relax. To keep chaos to a minimum we would:
* Transition down from high energy activities to a book/snack/sketch and then to free choice time
* Have a variety of activities with plenty of materials for the kids to use
* Have out a few teacher-led activities to help break up the time (for large or small groups)
* Keep a close eye on the group dynamics and step in and adjust when needed
So, what happened when the kids were “Just playing?” So many amazing things! They built ramps and invented games, did puzzles as a team, sketched, discovered a tree fort, read, came up with decorations for the exhibit and so much more……