Saturday, September 24, 2011

Notes on Shichida - Part 10: Pre-lessons


We are going to rewind. Before you do Senses Play, you should do the pre-lessons. In class, pre-lessons are done at the start of the class (after the greeting and introduction), before Senses Play. Pre-lessons should be done at home too, at the start of the home practice session.

Pre-lessons are very important. They help the child to relax, to switch over to alpha wave and to focus on the session. There is little point in having the session if the child is not relaxed and in a good mood. The pre-lessons comprise (1) the energy ball game; (2) blowing game; (3) making positive statements and suggestions; and (4) image training. I will explain the first three in this post and image training in the next post.

Let me explain the energy ball game first. When adults try to relax and focus themselves on the task at hand, they usually close their eyes, breathe deeply and slowly, get rid of negative thoughts and think positive thoughts to motivate themselves. We tell ourselves, "Close your eyes, get rid of negative distracting thoughts, focus and tell yourself you can do it!" However, the young ones may not understand how to do all that. In order to help them, we play this game.

The game has two parts. First, we rub our hands together and pretend to gather good energy into a big ball, lift it high and let it shower down on us to wash away all the bad energy. Then, we rub our hands together and make another energy ball, but this time we pretend to pack the good energy tightly into a ball and pretend to eat it so that we are filled with good energy.

Here's a Youtube video of Ryan and me playing the game.


After the energy ball game, we give our children a big hug and tell them, "I love you." Make other positive statements like, "You and mummy are one in our hearts" and positive suggestions like, "We are going to have a lot of fun!"

I have heard comments from parents that the energy ball game seems unorthodox or spiritual or supernatural. Actually, it's not at all. It's just a game for the children to play along, to put them in a good frame of mind for the class and to concentrate. Now that I have explained the purpose of the activity, you can even modify it or do something else at home, according to what is suitable for your child. If your child can understand what to do - to breathe deeply, relax, focus and put himself in a positive frame of mind, then that achieves the purpose. Just make sure to tag on positive statements/suggestions and then do image training - these two are very important.

After the energy ball game and positive statements/suggestions, we do blowing games. As explained, adults can relax themselves by breathing slowly and deeply for a while and focusing their minds (meditating). For the younger children, they may not understand when you tell them to take slow and deep breaths or they may simply not know how. This activity helps the children to do deep breathing.

In class, we use blowing toys to play this game. I'll show you our homemade ones which are similar.

The first one is supposed to be an octopus! Just goes to show - don't worry that your handmade material looks unprofessional - it doesn't matter! Hahaha! Here, Ryan blows on the tentacles (the green tassels).


A jellyfish (don't worry, Ryan took some time to figure out what it was too). I wanted to re-do it but when I showed it to him, he started blowing on it, so I let it be. Heh heh.


A boat with a sail that you can blow on.


A bird on a perch. The bird swings when you blow on it. I cut the whole thing from one piece of paper.

Next one is a seal, spinning a ball on its nose. I made this by pasting two sides of the ball on a satay stick. The satay stick is inserted into part of a straw at the back of the seal. Hold the seal up, blow on the ball and watch it spin! This straw-stick model can be used for lots of things - an aeroplane with moving propellers, a sun/moon combination, a weather vane, etc.



This is what I did with the rest of that straw. I threaded a string through it and tied a button on one end to keep it in place. On the other end, I stuck a butterfly. Hold the straw, blow on the butterfly and watch it flutter! 


Again, this straw-string model can be used for anything - hang a small pom-pom, a kite, a bee, an aeroplane, a bird, etc. It can be a two-dimensional or a three-dimensional object. Anything that moves easily.

Here's a fly that you blow away from the watermelon slice. The fly is attached to a plastic strip that is also attached to the watermelon slice.

In the next example, I drew a book and cut a slot in the middle. I inserted a piece of paper into the slot to make a page and decorated the book with pictures of monsters which I cut from a piece of used gift wrap. Ryan has to blow the page upwards to see what's underneath!



Other examples - a dog with floppy ears that you can blow up, a helicopter with moving rotor blades, a house with a chimney or a train engine (use black strips of paper/plastic for smoke and blow on the strips), etc. You can even use something that doesn't move at all - like a picture of a hot apple pie. Actually, the examples are endless.

After the blowing game, we do image training (pretend play/imaginary story), then the "Which One?" games and then the "hot" card game.

At home, you must do the pre-lessons if your child is above three years old. If your child is under three years old, you can choose to skip the pre-lessons if your child is already happy and relaxed, as the right brain is usually still dominant at this age, although it is still better to do them. It depends on the situation and the individual child. If your child needs some help to focus, then the games will help. Also, some children may have already started receiving a lot of left brain input before they turn three (especially in Singapore) - these children may need more help to switch over. In class, we do the pre-lessons at all ages, even with the babies - some children may need it, some children may not but since we can't customise the class routine to fit the individual child, we just do it in every class. If your child attends the weekly class, it's also good to do the pre-lessons even if your child is under three, to maintain the routine.

Do blowing games at home if your child doesn't know how to do deep and slow breathing or if your child is particularly hyper. Please do not worry about making those little blowing toys that we use in class. In class we change the blowing toy every week but at home you can repeat the same thing in subsequent sessions. It's just something to help your child breathe deeply and relax himself. You can use a piece of tissue paper or a feather and blow it across the floor. You can use a handkerchief. You can even just hold up a picture of a hot cup of coffee and ask your child to blow on it. I would not suggest blowing bubbles or blowing a musical instrument or even a lighted candle - the child may get too excited and want to continue playing with the bubbles, etc.

After the pre-lessons (including image training which I will explain in the next post), you can proceed to Senses Play.

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