The dot on my hand darkened to black, deep black.
Wearing a plastic mood dot was part of my stress management class. If all went well, the dot shone blue. If not, it turned shades of bluish-black, to midnight.
In my preschool class, over the course of a couple of weeks, I noticed that certain events and activities turned my dot black, events that most moms and dads face every day.
Transition times headed up my list of stressful moments. Moving from one activity to another, such as work time to lunchtime, lunch to recess, recess back to class and dismissals. Most parents report that going from one event to another, for example, getting dressed then on to breakfast, breakfast to school, school to home, bath to bed, reign as the times of day that their “black dot” appears.
Another black dot instant coincided with those unpredictable moments that we have with children where everything can be calm and peaceful, then change to chaos, for no apparent reason, in a blink of an eye.
Determined to figure out how to create blue dot moments, I kept a daily log. When I was actively involved giving lessons, reading a book out loud, or singing, the mood dot was blue skies. During interruptions, phone calls, and transition times storm clouds brewed across my dot, and I felt my impatience and grumpiness emerge.
Deciding to follow the advice of the old song, I determined to “accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative” and use my blue-sky activities to full advantage, and try to eliminate that stormy weather.
Interruptions and phone calls I minimized by setting limits. For transition times, I ventured to find a song or two for each changeover of activity. As we sang while changing activities, I noted that my mood dot stayed blue, and could change from black to blue in less than thirty-seconds.
In moments of chaotic classroom meltdown, when it would have been easier to yell, “Please be quiet,” I sang.
Serendipitously, I found that when I sang in another language, the group quieted in seconds. I busied myself learning several songs in Spanish and German. My one Chinese song, though, consistently calms any preschool group. How? Developing language in preschoolers creates a fascination for new words, and they will stop to listen to something unfamiliar.
For transition times, I used songs such as Mary Wore Her Red Dress and Willabee Wallaby Wee to dismiss children one by one to a new activity. There were songs for clean up time (One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, let’s finish up, it’s clean up time). For lunch, we sang, “This is the way we get ready for lunch”.
These songs helped create a routine, along with relieving my stress, and the children’s tension. Newcomers to the classroom adapted quickly with musical cues to aid in their assimilation. Expectations become clear with our musical routine.
Here’s wishing you blue-sky dots and days. Remember, when things start to get you down, sing.
Here’s a handout and audio recording of transition songs: