Category Archives: school

Starting the School Year in a Mindful Mindset

School is back in session and with that comes lots of firsts, lots of changes, and lots of new emotions for our children.  New teacher, new room, new rules, new expectations.  Even as adults, starting a new job comes with lots of new thoughts, some positive and some riddled with worry.

This time of growth and change is a GREAT time to help our children (and ourselves) build our toolbox of relaxation and coping skills!  Working together on our social and emotional skill sets shines a light on the positives and lessons of each moment rather than fears of the “what if”.

ABC Mindful Me  By: Christiane Engel

This is a wonderful book and teaching tool for us as parents (and as people!)  Each letter in the Alphabet highlights an aspect of Mindfulness, and the book gives an easy to understand definition of Mindfulness at the beginning and end.  Each page gives one important way to practice mindfulness throughout the day.  You could even read a page a morning (or week) and reflect on how you will use that concept in your household!

For example, A is for Awareness.  In kid speak: PAYING ATTENTION TO YOUR WORLD and all that is BEAUTIFUL in it!

Activity for Children: For little ones pick a shape of the day.  Then, go on a walk around the house, the neighborhood, etc. and try to notice anything that is shaped like a circle.  If your child can touch it have them trace the circle with their fingers.  This can be done for shapes, colors, animals, textures, you name it!  You are not only teaching your child an academic skill, but most importantly you are teaching them to be OBSERVERS and forming mental relationships and categories.  Furthermore, they are learning to be IN THE MOMENT, fully present in their environment…and their learning!

Activity for Adults:  Monkey See, Monkey Do!  Take a walk, either by yourself or with your family, and put your phone away where it is just slightly inconvenient to get out.  (ex: I put mine in the zip compartment in the bottom of my stroller so I am less likely to take it out.)  Next, pick a focus visual, tactile, or auditory.  For example, how does your foot feel when you place it on the ground?  What sounds are around you?  Are the leaves moving today in the breeze?

Our children view our behavior as model behavior…modeling being present in the moment is such a gift to them in so many ways.

The book highlights: breath, kindness, compassion, feelings, energy, gratitude, and so much more!

Thank you for reading!

School Readiness: How Can We Help PLAY a Role in Our Childrens’ Success

In beginning a new school year we want to help our little ones adjust and succeed, whether they are starting at a new school, or returning to a familiar classroom.

WHAT SKILLS DOES YOUR CHILD NEED TO RECEIVE THE MOST BENEFITS SOCIALLY AND ACADEMICALLY WHEN BEGINNING SCHOOL?  In writing this post I interviewed a local teacher to ask what she views as the most important skills for children entering kindergarten.  Her response included academic skills, but in addition focused on social-emotional skills as well.

We can think of our children’s minds as buckets we want to fill.  In order to fill their buckets and increase confidence and enjoyment of learning we need to “plug the foundational holes” in their buckets.  Having solid skills prior to beginning school enables our children to regulate, learn, and thrive.

Some pre-academic skills to consider included:

Number Recognition

Letter Recognition

Letter Sounds and Blends

Simple Sight Words

Following 1-3 Step Simple Directions

Zipping a Coat

Some Social Emotional skills to consider included:


Taking Turns

Learning to Raise Your Hand in a Group

Actively Listening while Someone Else is Speaking




Taking Turns Speaking

Sitting in a Spot for an Extended Period of Time

 Children’s Academic Skills are impacted by their Social Competencies and vice versa.

For Example: Being able to sit and attend impacts your ability to remember and integrate concepts; identifying one’s own emotions and the emotional cues of others impacts: picking up on teacher’s non-verbal cues for following directions, and managing peer relationships; and linking actions with thoughts and emotions impacts reading comprehension and personal narrative development.

Children who have difficulty interpreting social situations may have underlying lagging skills such as: comprehending the new information or situation, organizing the information into the desired response, retrieving language to express that response.

The Focus Point: So how can we help our children connect? 

How Can We Help Our Children Connect Using Emotional & Logic Learning

  • Learning Through Play: Engage in pretend play, use emotional vocabulary, incorporate numbers, incorporate letters, BUT in a way that involves engaging higher level thought processes
    • Ex: Playing Kitchen “I really want this food…but I forgot the name! It starts with an E…it has a shell….,etc.”
    • This engages children in Big Picture Thinking: Pulling Salient Detail Together
    • It also targets sound awareness
    • AND/OR “I want more than three eggs…but less than four…how would that look?”

Another Tool is Using Real Time Situations and Play Based Learning: Ex: “Mom, Can I have a juice?”, “Why do you need a juice?”

  • Teaching Reasoning, Expressing/Identifying Emotions, and Advocacy.
  • Taking pictures on family outings and placing them on a table, but out of order. Have your child arrange the photos in order, and tell you the sequence of events.
  • Shared Reading: Acting out scenes in a book, mimicking character emotion, having them predict the next part of the story (and act it out!)  *This practice has also been linked to increased comfort levels of public speaking.
  • Play pretend school: Have child sit for circle time, then you be the student.  Model HOW to sit and listen in play! Your child’s mind is typically great at generalizing play skills to learning skills (Albert Einstein knew this!)
  • MOVEMENT helps integrate the brain! Learn outside, learn through movement!
  • Go outside and HUNT for categories, hunt for objects that begin with ‘B’, or specific colors.
  • Turn Questions Around!
    • “Mom or Dad, why are the street lights red, yellow, and green?” ASK your child “Why do you think they are?” ENCOURAGE guessing, predictions, and any chances to develop and discuss logic!
    • In the morning go over the weather, and have your child pick their clothes.  Step outside quickly, and talk about whether it’s hot, cold, rainy, sunny, and what clothes go with certain weather.  (They may not match BUT they have engaged higher level thinking!)
  • Encourage story telling!  Have them repeat, pause, etc.
  • Play “What would you do?” games.  Give hypothetical situations or problems, and talk about what they would do.
  • Acknowledge and explain emotions physically and mentally, talk about what it looks like to listen!
  • Resources
    • Whole Body Listening Larry
    • The Whole-Brain Child
    • The Explosive Child

Finally, You Are Your Child’s Greatest Model

  • Talk about everything and anything! Talk about what you’re doing, how you’re feeling, what your child is doing, what you see, etc.
  • Your child is watching HOW you listen.  If you are multi-tasking, looking away, moving around, your child is going to observe that as actively listening.
  • Give them time to respond.  Children learn conversational rules from us! If we interrupt or rush, they model the same!  Show signs of actively listening (more obvious than usual): nodding, smiling, verbal acknowledgement, eye contact.
  • Teach Delayed Gratification (this skill is a very large indicator of future successes and persistence during education and in relationships.)
  • Teach Positive Self Talk: the things you tell your child about themselves, will begin to be how they see themselves.
  • Schedule mind wondering time into your routine!  Leave educational materials out, let them explore their interests in down time.