Callie, A fifth-grade girl, who has been on meds for ADD/ADHD since kindergarten, is off them for a while--they aren’t working well. In our afterschool lab, during homework time, she crumples her math homework, throws it on the floor, and bursts into tears of frustration. “I hate this homework!”
Her teacher approaches her and makes a suggestion―
“Callie--you know how you feel happy and focused when you’re working in circus? Lets see if we can bring some of that same energy to math homework. I have an idea.”
They interrupt the homework session to go fetch a homemade balance beam, used for afterschool circus class, and together they set it down near her homework table.
Callie taps the middle of her forehead, she stares at a point and walks the balance beam back and forth -- several times. This activates what we often refer to with children as "the wise view," her center of focus in the middle of her forehead. Walking the beam makes her happy; her mood lightens. Callie returns to her homework.
During the remaining homework period, she is observed returning to the beam several more times to walk it back and forth. There are no more tears. For the next three weeks, she uses the balance beam daily during homework time -- at the first sign of stress within herself, she gets up and walks the beam back and forth.
In the fourth week, Callie is doing her math homework with focus and enjoyment. The balance beam is nowhere in site. She states to her teacher: “I don’t need it anymore. Now I just imagine I’m doing it
This simple intervention took her teacher only 5 minutes to establish with Callie, yet the results were profound. What really happened here?
In circus and life-skills classes in the program, Callie had learned and experienced some basic principles from A Framework for Wise Education, which we could imagine as "I" statements.
- "I can take charge of my own happiness, by paying attention to what inspires me! I can learn to be inspired by many things!"
- I can change my feelings from negative to positive, by shifting my point of view. When I'm bogged down in my "ocean of emotion" (the belly area), it's harder to know what to do, and I can get upset easily. When I shift to using my "wise view," I'm not afraid or upset and I can see the next steps."
- "Everyone has areas where they focus more easily, and where it is more challenging. I’m learning. It’s easy for me to focus in circus class. Now it's getting easier to focus on math!"
Callie’s teacher understood that she needed to build skills and confidence in math and that being inspired and focused were keys. The teacher, who was in her wise view (the 3rd eye) herself (rather than over-analytical, frustrated or overly empathetic), found a creative solution that built on Callie’s own skills and truly empowered her.
An important note: We find that some kids focus more easily while physically quieter, and others more easily while kinesthetically engaged---yet both groups can strengthen in the area where it is more challenging, as Callie proved to herself.