Working with the public, we all have those days when the kids are especially rowdy, the catalog can’t seem to find anything, there is a line of 7 angry grandmothers impatiently tapping their feet waiting for you to be done, despite their being 10 programs happening over the next week, we don’t offer enough…those days when it is just insane.
Children’s librarians sometimes have those days during a program–for me, that program was a storytime. The parents had tuned out. One kid was literally bouncing off the walls, which caused the other kids to join in on the screaming and running and the slamming into things. No one seemed to want to sit down, be calm, and put their listening ears on.
I resigned myself to the chaos, and decided to try going forward.
I have a routine when it comes to storytime. A series of three or four things that I do for every storytime that get the kids ready to listen.
I say hello and introduce myself to everyone–since my Saturday Storytime is a drop-in, I don’t always get the same faces, so it’s just a good reinforcement. And it reminds the kids of my name, so that if they have a question, they can ask me directly, without having to say “librarian”, “lady”, “storytime lady”, etc.
“Hello everyone.” The dull roar diminished slightly. “Are you ready for some stories?”
I had a few enthusiastic yeses, one NO, and a couple yells.
“I’m Miss Molly. It’s so nice to see you all. If you would like to take off your shoes, you are more than welcome to do that.” I take off my shoes, something I learned in NZ, and encourage the kids to do it too. I think it settles them a little. Having shoes on signals play, running, jumping. Socked feet are a little more relaxed…at least, that’s my way of thinking.
The kids took off their shoes.
“First, we start with our hello song. I’ll sing it once, and once you know how it goes, we can sing it together.” For our hello song, I have 2-3 which I rotate. The familariaty of them makes it easy for the kids to remember and sing along. It went OK, but I was losing them .
“Next we have to get our wiggles out.” For this I usually have a poem or rhyme that gets the kids up and jumping, imitating animals, spinning, just letting them know it’s ok to be silly during a SPECIFIC, MISS MOLLY DESIGNATED TIME. Once we get our wiggles out, we stand still.
This particular time, however, they did not get their wiggles out. They were still wiggling. If anything, getting the wiggles out simply invited more intense wiggles to move in.
I was losing them, and losing them fast.
So, I broke out my last resort before resigning myself to calling it a day.
“Ok. I need everyone to stand up really, really tall! Feet together, like you’re stuck in place. Like a tree. Like a mountain. Let me see how still you can be.”
They all snapped to attention. Their feet locked together.
“We’re going to get ready for our reading by doing Book Salutations. We’re going to do some yoga. Take a deep breath in.” We all breathed in. “And breath out.” I gave an exaggerated huff out. The kids did the same. “And again. In…and out. This time, we raise our arms up with our deep breath. Ready? In,” we raised our arms up with our deep breath. “And while we breath out, our arms come down. Ready? Out,” we lowered our arms as we breathed out.
“And again.” We did this two more times. Each time, the energy level of the room returning more to normal.
“This time, when we breath out, we’re going to reach down and touch our toes. Ready? Out and toes.” Everyone bent down and touched their toes.
I continued with my little Book Salutation for another 5 or so minutes. We did Downward Dog, which I call Happy Puppy, because I make them shake their “tails”. We did Cobra and made snake sounds. We stretched out in Warrior. We curled into little balls. We pretended to be boats. We finished in Mountain again.
The kids looked at me; they seemed happy, ready to listen, definitely in a better head space than when they charged into my room.
“Are we ready for our Have a Seat Song?” Everyone sat, with the exception of the initial, extremely bouncy boy–who was then ushered out of the room by his father.
We sang my favorite song, and we had a wonderful storytime.I started doing a little yoga in my storytimes over the summer. I used to do yoga 3-5 times a week when I was in New Zealand. It was the only thing that kept me sane some days. There is definitely something to be said for that kind of structure. It can be silly and still be quiet. It’s challenging for kids, since it makes them focus and concentrate on what they’re doing. Simple motions and balancing positions for adults are sometimes challenging for little bodies who aren’t used to standing on one foot with eyes closed.
The point I am trying to make?
Sometimes you just have to work through those days when all calmness and rationality seems to have seeped from the world. Find a little pocket of zen and run with it. Even if it only lasts for 5 minutes, or 10 minutes.
And if you are considering using some simple yoga in your storytime, I would definitely suggest it! If you want some pose suggestions, definitely let me know. I’d love to help.
There are several yoga certification schools around my town, and I am seriously considering signing myself up for it. It seems like it would be a wonderful skill to have.