Wake up and shake up your morning!

How many times have you "woken up on the wrong side of bed"? Those blurry eyed, unproductive and stressful mornings could be a result of a lack of planning or of a morning routine. A morning routine is like stretching before exercise, it prepares your body (and mind) and gives you a solid foundation to achieve your goals and meet whatever the day throws at you. 

We caught up with Jane Brand, Head of Education at Aurora Meldreth Manor, to find out about how her and her team help their students get energised and focused for the school day ahead with an innovative morning routine. 

Q. When you first started at Meldreth Manor (MM), what was a typical morning routine at the school, and how did the children react to it?

Jane: When I first started at MM, there was no defined beginning to the start or end of the school day. Students would just arrive and go straight to their first lesson and were often tired and lethargic.

Q. What are ‘Wake Up, Shake Up’ sessions and how do they work?

Jane: ‘Wake Up, Shake Up’ sessions are a short 15-minute burst of rhythmic beats using a sound board at the start of each school day. The member of staff running the session greets each of the students to school by singing their name whilst beating out a regular rhythm on the board. This is then punctuated by periods of silence to give the young people time to respond. This has taken the form of vocalisations, clapping, use of switches to communicate, facial expressions and sometimes shocked silence when we first started.

Q. Where did the idea come from?

Jane: The idea came from the understanding of the need for routine and repetition, as well as having observed how the school day had been starting at MM. I used the internet to look at the ideas of others and came across the idea of ‘Wake Up, Shake Up!’ which was started in 2002 by a primary School Sport Coordinator called Ruth Mitchell.  Ruth was concerned at the lack of daily physical activity taking place in some of the schools she worked with, which led to the idea of a fun 5-10 minutes of aerobic activity to lively ‘pop’ music on a daily basis. She called it the ‘Wake Up Shake Up’ program.

Suzanne Little, Meldreth Manors VI specialist teacher, took this idea and ran with it to make it more relevant to our student cohort, which led to our own daily version of ‘Wake Up, Shake Up!’

Q. Are you seeing positive outcomes from the sessions for those involved in them?

Jane: As a staff group, we are seeing lots of positive outcomes from the sessions. Young people who had previously chosen to distance themselves from their peer group were choosing to join in and take an active role in the sessions. Other students, we have found, are now more alert throughout the whole school day, having been energised by our morning sessions. The overall response has been great!

Q. Is this something parents could replicate at home to get their children energised and focused for the day ahead?

Jane: I think it is really healthy to establish routines; things that happen at the same time every day. Music, or just the use of a regular beat, seems to be very effective. A short clapping session perhaps to initially engage the young person each morning when they are getting dressed or having breakfast. I think it is about what suits the parents/ carers and the young person, whatever that routine is. But stick to the same thing at the same time each day.  If what you’re doing isn’t working for you, then change it after a few weeks. Don’t rush into changes, as time and repetition, I feel, is the key object here.

For more information on Aurora Meldreth Manor visit: http://www.the-aurora-group.com/meldrethmanor

For more information on ‘Wake up, Shake Up’ visit: http://www.wakeupshakeup.com/