MIndful May- Day 2! Did you know that we can learn to reconnect to the present moment by paying attention to a feeling within our bodies? Help your children pay attention to their bodies with this fun exercise!
We are making an impact throughout the month of May in a strong, intentional way by taking 2-5 minutes each day to bring mindfulness into our children’s daily lives. How to participate? Join our community of parents, teachers, caregivers, and families and commit to doing a breathing activity for 2-5 minutes each day throughout the month of May with the children in your world. Visit our Partners In Connection Twitter and Facebook pages for a daily mindfulness tip each day! Let us know you are taking part and we’ll put your name into our weekly raffles for a chance to win a Connected Elephant tool kit!
Our Elephant Ears are a creative way for children to intentionally listen to their breathing. This easy to make device, otherwise known as a whisper phone, serves many purposes. Aside from strengthening a child’s awareness of deep breathing, students use our Elephant Ears to read positive affirmations to themselves to build self-esteem and confidence. Parents and teachers also find that our Elephant Ears benefit students in class with reading, spelling, and learning.
How it works:
* We use a 10 foot piece of ¾ inch PVC pipe cut into 3 1/2 inch pieces along with 2- 3/4 inch elbow pieces per phone for class sizes of approximately 20-24 students.
Article from Seacoast Online posted on April 14, 2016 http://www.seacoastonline.com/article/20160414/NEWS/160419460
Visitors to My First School often remark about the strong sense of community felt throughout the Hampton-based preschool. This sense of community is an intentional, active effort by the school’s staff to ensure each parent and child who participates is treated with kindness and respect.
“We try to learn as much as possible about the individual child, their family and their interests. We offer a sensory-rich environment, with play opportunities that help us know each child’s cognitive level, but more importantly, their social and emotional developmental stages.” explains the school’s owner, Leslie Hill. “It is important work, helping children be safe, and feel secure and confident while they learn. We encourage parent participation in our school because we want the whole family to feel welcome. We try to speak with our families almost every day to make the experience meaningful. Parents are the most important educators in their child’s life!”
To strengthen this message, Hill invited Mindfulness Educator and co-founder of The Connected Elephant, Meg O’Connor, to share mindfulness tips with her staff and students. Hill explained, “Meg’s work aligns perfectly with the goals of our school.”
O’Connor agrees. She believes the partnership can provide additional brain-body connective strategies that will help the children thrive in all areas. “Throughout the school’s almost 30 year history, they have used yoga, movement, outdoor play and hands-on sensory exploring crafts to stimulate the children’s senses and brains,” said O’Connor.
“What could be greater than combining The Connected Elephant’s brain based curriculum that teaches mindfulness, self-regulation, and compassion with My First School’s best practices in child development?” asked O’Connor, a trained advocate for children.
In order to expand the impact of lessons, workshops will also be available for parents and caretakers to attend as well. My First School is enrolling for the 2016-2017 school year in April.
This powerful lesson was taken from Dr. Daniel Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson’s book, The Whole-Brain Child, a must read resource for parents, caretakers, and professionals working with children.
What does the expression Flip Your Lid mean? Losing our cool or as Bart Simpson would say, “Don’t have a cow, man.” WE ALL FLIP OUR LIDS! It is an expression used to explain what happens to our brains during times of high emotion, excitement, and stress. This lesson is helpful to learn at any age and can be a powerful tool for handling big emotions and helping a person stay regulated.
When the whole brain works together, we are in tuned to others, flexible, and in balance. Our emotions are regulated. Show your child an example of a brain using your fists. Simply hold up a closed fist with fingers covering thumbs (fingers are the prefrontal cortex- hugging the limbic system). In this whole brain state, children and adult are less likely to Flip A Lid. This changes, however, when our limbic system feels threatened. When our limbic system (which controls our emotions) feels threatened, it overrides the prefrontal cortex (which controls our thinking, reasoning, flexibility) and we are less likely or no longer able to respond in a clear, concise way. This is when we Flip A Lid. Show this to your child by lifting your four fingers up in the air as a flipped lid. Examples when a child’s lid might be flipped? When a child hears the answer no to television, no to a new puppy, no candy before dinner, no to an item in a store, etc.. An example of a parent’s flipped lid? Struggles with homework, messy bedrooms, getting a child out the door in the morning, etc.
Helping children handle big emotions is crucial. How we name our experiences is also key. For example: instead of the word drama, we could use the phrase: dysregulated brains. This shift of perspective creates a safe space for children and adults to tame emotions and learn healthy, life long tools to handle big emotions. When someone has ‘flipped their lid’ we can now help that person to ask herself/himself: What can I do to stay regulated, help myself get regulated and/or help my friend do the same?
BREATHING BREAKS AND OTHERS TOOLS
As we learn to train our brains, we can begin to take responsibility for our emotions. Remember, dealing with strong emotions is tough for all ages! Both adults and children can learn to identify what the feeling is like just before experiencing a flipped lid. When we feel a strong emotion (negative or positive) start to bubble up inside, we can stop our lid from flipping by taking an action such as deep breathing. If our lid has flipped (and it will!), we can make a repair. Drinking water/staying hydrated, squeezing a squishy toy, taking deep breaths, counting to ten, blowing bubbles, and talking to a safe person are just a few ways for us to regulate our emotions. Practicing these actions in times of calm, with intention, and in a fun manner will strengthen relationships while providing strong tools for everyone’s personal tool boxes.
With you on this journey and honored to be Partners In Connection,
Our youth program, The Connected Elephant, teaches mindfulness and more to students in grades K-12. What an honor it is to walk alongside students with this powerful program. We are intentional, driven, and creative in finding ways to teach deep breathing exercises to children along with lessons on stress relief tactics, brain education, and self-regulation. Although our information is life-changing, it is always taught with laughter, lightness, and deep awareness of the need for education through connection not correction. We leave our sessions inspired, touched, and driven to learn more on what we can do to teach students how to pay attention from the inside out.
Parents and caregivers, we encourage you to join us in our quest to teach students how to learn to recognize and regulate emotions in a world filled with peer pressure, sports, school, sensory overload, family and internal pressures. We believe that all lessons are strengthened by repetition, repetition, repetition and hope you connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, and through email in order for us to share tips, resources, and research with each other. Wouldn't it be great if each day we could say to ourselves, "Wow, I did not know what I did not know." Chances are, if you are anything like us, you will learn that it may not be a child that needs to learn a new tool, but the adult. Gulp.
With you on this journey and honored to be Partners In Connection,