For the past several years, Feldenkrais® practitioner Donna Ray-Reese has had the good fortune of teaching Awareness Through Movement® lessons to preschoolers through fifth graders on a regular basis. In addition to teaching 15 to 30 children at a time in their classrooms, Donna has taught small groups at the Reese Movement Institute where she maintains her private practice.
Donna has found that children of all ages enjoy and benefit from participating in the Feldenkrais Method®. After teaching a lesson that coordinates the flexor and extensor muscles, a four year old little girl said, “I have grown, I feel as tall as a teenager.”
In Donna’s private classes a nine year old boy drew a picture for her after a gentle rocking lesson. His picture had a rectangle (with numerous small rectangles within it), a yellow circle with spokes and a small car with fire coming out of the back end. He said, “I feel as tall as a high rise building, as bright as the sun, and I feel like I can run as fast as a race car.“These children’s comments seem to tell it all.
Along with creating a positive body/self image, the children learn better how to embody spatial concepts through their Awareness Through Movement experience. Learning movement concepts such as up, down, inside, outside, right and left seem to instill confidence and security in anyone participating. This type of learning helps to eliminate the self doubt that is felt when we don’t know where we are in space, when we don’t know right from left and when we do not realize our capabilities.
The way Awareness Through Movement is designed and taught allows children time to process instructions and integrate the directions with their physical sensations. This allows complex sequences of verbal directions to be coupled with physical sensations and spatial orientation. Awareness Through Movement therefore creates an effective training ground for enhanced listening, improved thought processes, more efficient movement and successful learning.
Teaching Awareness Through Movement to children in the class room has been a rewarding experience for Donna. She enjoys teaching children to search for what feels good and to experiment with movement variations that improve what they are doing and how they are doing it. She likes teaching children to trust their judgments and to become their own experts. And Donna believes that creating an environment where children can learn to make distinctions, evaluate courses of action and make creative discoveries is essential to the health and future of our children.