One of my memories of going to elementary school in Taiwan is the morning assembly. This is where we all line up and gather in the field to raise the flag, sing the national anthem and do some morning exercise. I’ve always really liked the morning exercise part of the assembly. I’m not sure why, but stretching first thing in the morning just seems like a great thing to do.
Last year, I was searching for a way to ease the kids from “home” to “school”. In the morning I’m constantly rushing them to get dressed and get ready to go to homeschool. And they’re always busy trying to play with each other. It was hard getting them to settle down once they get into school.
I hit upon the idea of using Radio Taiso. It’s the same as teachers doing yoga after kids come in from lunch time recess. A way to help the kids focus and bring them back into the classroom. Except I like stretching exercises instead to signal the start of the day. Plus I needed to add my own personal exercise in or else I don’t get any.
We did this one for quite a while actually. There are some days where the kids don’t want to do them and other days where we forget. We just picked it up again for the new school year and I was surprised at just how well the kids have learned the stretching routine, even Astroboy. Right now, at 9AM, I chromcast this onto my TV and the kids will come running in from whatever putzing around they’re doing to start the exercise. We go downstairs and start school right after.
I felt guilty all year Radio Taiso is in English. With a quick google, I came across this video. It’s titled 舊式國民健康操. Super cheesy to me. It’s totally like the old stretching exercises I remember doing as a child. And it’s in Chinese! So I will try this out with the children. But I like the Radio Taiso exercises better.
Another thing I did, though not consistently, was to have a 15 minute morning silent reading time when the kids come into the classroom. This often turns into Thumper wanting to read more and Astroboy not wanting to read at all since he can’t read. But for 15 minutes the classroom is quiet (sometimes) and it gives me the chance to finish prep or to finish tidying up the classroom, or even to just finish mentally switching gear, before school starts. It wasn’t super successful because I was really bad about stopping prep. But otherwise I really relish the quiet time.