In education for children, as parents and teachers we want to give and do all we can for our children. We want them to enjoy their childhoods fully and guide them to become healthy, well-balanced, and highly functioning adults. It makes sense that the values, skills and good practices instilled in children at a young age will serve them throughout their lives. Inevitably, we sometimes experience conflict and uncertainty about the stresses children face, and whether their needs are being met in the best possible way.
The Alexander Technique offers practical insights and behaviours for children of all ages, to help them delight in being more free, spontaneous, and intelligent. FM Alexander believed that early intervention in the education of children would improve their overall and specific functioning in daily activities, contributing ultimately to a better society for all. To this end, he committed himself to working with children, even setting up a dedicated school where children were taught to apply the principles of the Alexander Technique.
Children deal with many more demands and pressures at school than they did while FM Alexander was alive – at home, in school, at extra-murals, and in their social lives. They manage heavy backpacks and workloads, frequent testing, sit still for long periods of time (often in chairs that are harmful to developing bodies), participate in organised activities with reduced opportunity for free play, with leisure time often spent in front of TV, smart phones, or other devices. Children are taught from an early age to concentrate on achieving results. This reinforces stress: with a drive to do well, an overly narrowed focus, a craning of their necks, cramping and slumping postures (that reduce breathing, compress the spinal column, and squash their internal organs), and various resultant aches and pains.
The Alexander Technique provides a life-skill that assists children to differentiate between efficient movement and misuse of themselves. It give them the skill of being able to choose ways of moving and of being still, with poise, calmness, and stability. As children are sensitive to fitting in and doing well in relation to their peers, this can also improve their confidence and self-esteem levels.
Further, poor self management has a detrimental effect on a child’s ability to pay attention, on their higher-order mental faculties, and on their emotional state and resilience. A child who experiences themself as balanced and well-coordinated in thinking, feeling, and sensing is more alert, attentive, and responsive.
“I look for, and already see, a method of training our children which shall make them masters of their own bodies; I look for a time when the child shall be so taught and trained that whatever the circumstance which shall later surround it, it will without effort be able to adapt itself to its environment, and be enabled to live its life in the enjoyment of perfect health, physical and mental.” – FM Alexander, Man’s Supreme Inheritance
Click here for an interesting perspective on seating options to improve children’s attention levels at school.