Omatas Talent Show June 2015

Creating enquiring minds,

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When we feel as if we have been trying too hard for too long, can we stop for a moment and just go with it?

In the book Kids Beyond Limits, by Anat Baniel, she talks about ‘Movement with Attention’. She says, “Instead of trying to change a movement or behaviour your child is doing, actually support and even exaggerate those movements or actions as they presently are. This helps your child bring his attentioning to what he is doing, thus gaining greater choice and freedom.”

Baniel is illustrating how sometimes children are not aware of what they are doing and by calling their attention to their actions they have the freedom to do something about it.

Show Me What I am Doing

I was considering some practical applications of this in a classroom or at home over homework, it all starts with naming the behaviour and then stating it in a factual way. Any judgement in your voice will have an opposite effect I would imagine.

I have a real example of when this worked. I have a student who used to pull his wrist towards his forearm when he wr ote, this caused his letters to be elongated and his arm and shoulders to get tired.

By drawing his attention to his hand position, to how tired his arm gets and to how his muscles work through muscle memory, he changed his hand position in a matter of days which positively affected his handwriting. We didn’t show him what he should be doing but instead we highlighted what he was doing.

Making a Choice

What if your child is not aware that they are daydreaming? Perhaps you could simply draw their attention to it by simply saying, ‘I see that you are daydreaming. What are you thinking about?’ You may find that your child stops and looks at you, they may be puzzled by your intrusion into their thoughts.

You can continue to draw their attention to what they are doing and even exaggerate it, ‘I bet that you were thinking of a big, pink unicorn doing a belly flop into a purple cloud of marshmallow.’ Once you and the child are immersed in the distraction it is no longer a distraction but an action. Now you have the choice to come back to what you were doing.

Thinking About Thinking

Consider it in this way, you are helping them to think about their thinking (a distinctly human thing to do) which gives them a choice. If you are the one to always bring them back to their task at hand then they cannot learn to do it for themselves.

According to Baniel, “When you help your child do what he is already doing, rather than trying to change him, it helps him recognise what he is doing and how he is doing it; this frees his brain to do something different, new and better.”

Self Checking

The idea of calling attention to what is happening rather than just redirecting can work in the classroom and during homework. If we ask the child to find their own mistakes by providing the answer for them to check their own work, we can help them to see what they are doing instead of only seeing what they are supposed to be doing. Instead of marking incorrect spelling words with a red cross and then providing the correct spelling we should be asking children to check for themselves if they are right. When they spot the mistake then they are learning.

Connecting Not Fixing

The idea of connecting rather than trying to ‘fix’ is perhaps a breath of fresh air for some. The ultimate point is that we cannot ask the muscle to move we have to ask the brain to move the muscle, so it would seem as if we can help the brain to help itself.


Movement with Attention