Tuning In

Already November…and my little class of fourth grade Religious School students is settling in to learning…

But not into sitting still…


During discussions about Creation, or Noah and the Ark, or even Abraham and Sarah, they pay attention, sure. They politely take turns reading the appointed verses from their own real adult TaNaChs, pause only slightly to sound out unfamiliar words, to hear definitions of terms like “covenant” and ”heir”.

But boy, can they wiggle!

And talk about talking!!

Sometimes I wonder whether they don’t save up all their chatterbox energy for my class, and cut loose simply because *ahem* I am such a good listener!

So after darling I fell out of her chair for the third time last week, while sweet lil J snatched back her stolen headband …I puzzled once again, “What in the world am I going to do about this?”

The answer came to me during my own morning practice:


The following week, we started class very differently.

-I explained how important it is for each of us to take time to pay attention to what is going on around and inside ourselves

-We reviewed the 6 Hebrew words of the Shemah—that central piece of Jewish heart and practice

-We discussed the Shemah’s meaning “Listen, Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One”, and what that means in terms of relationship with Divinity

-Then we sat quietly with feet flat on the floor, and hands in our laps.

**and when the kids asked if they could put their heads on the table, I said, “You bet!”

-I guided our breathing:

slowly in, slowly out

slowly in, slowly out

slowly in, and slowly out for each word

And the kids were right with me the whole time.

I wrapped up with a bit of “Think about a color that makes you feel happy. Now imagine the color is fading into a color that makes you feel calm and ready to learn”

And finally we opened our eyes, let out one final long, slow breath…and began class.

** It may be too soon to report actual positive results; but so far, so good. After only two sessions, I think our little group is demonstrating a bit more calm and self control.

At least the teacher is, anyway.

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