Do you find that when you collect your child from school they are like a wild animal?

Are they rude and loud even when you tell them off?

Do you wish they were better behaved at home?

When I was a Reception class teacher I used to notice that when my new children started they had very distinct personalities and were like jumping beans, all on their own journey. By Christmas I would notice that this had changed. They had learnt to line up when asked, put their hand up, sit quietly; they had basically learnt the rules of how to behave in school. Of course, that made my life easier because they could all do what they were told. However parents sometimes commented that once they came out of school they were wild!

Every week I go to a local school to run a Calm Caterpillars Relaxation class. I assumed that the children would “know how to behave” because we were still in school. But I’ve found it doesn’t quite work that way!

I collect the children from their classrooms. Every week at least one reception child is crying. They are tired and have had enough of the day. The older children are often noisy and I can see they just want to do what they have chosen. 

It’s a dilemma to be honest. I have a plan every week for activities I’d like to do. In my mind I know that if something comes up we can adapt or even ditch that plan. Sometimes the plan works and sometimes it doesn’t. That’s mainly because the children are too fidgety and noisy.

This week I decided we wouldn’t follow much of a plan. 

There was a child crying so while the others took their shoes off and had a snack I cuddled and spoke to that little boy. We had a bit of a joke and talked about how long it would be before his mum would be there to collect him.

One girl brought a sweet chestnut shell she had found in the playground. We all had a look at how prickly it was, what was inside and talked about why they are like that. She is a super imaginative child and created a game for a baby based on the 3 piece puzzle of seeds that was inside.

We started the session with the story “The Aliens are Coming”. They loved it and we had lots to talk and laugh about. I then said that we were going to listen to a story on the Calm App. My expectation was that they would sit and listen for some of the time and maybe get a bit fidgety. 

I loved what actually happened.

We are very lucky to be able to run the sessions in the school library and that it has lots of lovely cushions and bean bags. To start with all the children laid down and listened. After 10 minutes or so they did started to get fidgety and one asked if they could have a look at a book. I agreed. Gradually they all chose books to look at while our audio story was still playing. What was really great was that some of them chose to read on their own but others sat together and quietly chatted about what they were reading. Steadily the session became quieter and calmer.

At the end of the audio story when I said it was time to tidy up for going home a couple moaned that they hadn’t done anything. I explained to them how much they had done and how peaceful it was.

They all went home smiling and as calm as an under 7 should be.

So what does this have to do with how they behave when they come out of school?

I want to reassure you that they probably don’t mean to be naughty. They have been following rules all day. They have probably had to be quiet when they were bursting to say something. They might be hungry or thirsty.

What happens is that they get a build up of twitchiness inside them. If your children come to a Caterpillars class they will know all about twitches. They are bouncy little things that run around inside their body making them knock things over or fall off their chairs. We do a great exercise to calm our twitches down.

My tip for you is to let your children run off some steam, feed them and then try to encourage them to do something peaceful until they go to bed. And remember they’re not being naughty, it’s not their fault or your fault; it’s just part of childhood.