Modern times require that children as well as adults constantly adjust to daily changes, requirements, challenges, our own wishes and the wishes of others, but we often forget to stop for a moment and spend time just with ourselves at least for a moment. Children are increasingly overburdened and faced with many personal challenges. During after-school programmes, it is preferable for content to diverse and interesting for children. Practice has showed that children also wish to have different relaxation, playing, and free-time activities. Through various activities, movement, and creativity, new things can also be learnt. The main goal of this master's thesis is to verify and determine whether relaxation techniques after school affect the well-being, mood, and consequently the motivation of students to continue learning.
The theoretical part of the paper focuses on relaxation activities during the after-school programme within the Adapted Educational Programme of the nine-year primary school with a lower educational standard, into which students with mild intellectual disabilities are included. The characteristics of children with mild intellectual disabilities have been presented, the basic elements of after-school programmes have been highlighted, and the features of relaxation techniques have been described. The relaxation techniques have been divided into three sections, namely 1) creative movement, 2) yoga and massage for children, and 3) mindfulness exercises. Relaxation activities contained various movement exercises, dance games and relaxation games (e.g. cavalrymen, mirror, improvisation, guidance, the use of individual body parts, movement stories, etc.), pantomime, massage with the help of stories and guidance (e.g. weather massage, learning numbers, writing stories, the use of educational topics), carrying out yoga positions adapted to children (e.g. mountain and giant, tree, cat, butterfly, lion), and mindfulness exercises (e.g. breathing exercises, muscle relaxing, and tasting).
The empirical part of the paper presented a multiple case study. The sample included five fifth-graders with mild intellectual disabilities. A ten-week relaxation technique training was organised, which was held three times per week during the after-school programme. On the basis of comparing and analysing initial and final answers, we evaluated the effectiveness of the training and how familiar the students are with the relaxation techniques. The results showed that the set of various exercises in each section of the programme positively affected the mood of the students and their motivation for further work as well as the effectiveness with regard to doing homework. In the sample of the multiple case study, we highlight the most successful and most effective part of the programme, which allows us to conclude that relaxation techniques could have positive effects on other primary school students as well.
On the basis of the result analysis, examples have been given of various activities, which could help teachers and experts or make educational work more dynamic.