Universal Pre-Kindergarten Teacher: Do you like our mindful time?
“Yes, because we get to close our eyes and my mind relaxes. I’m not worried about anything.” ~Boy, Age 5
“Yeah I like it when we lay down in a comfortable position. Sometimes when we lay down we think of silly things. My body feels rested afterwards. I can learn more that way.”~Girl, Age 5
“Yes, I like that you can lay down or sit up. I like the calming music (it’s like the music I do ballet with). It is quiet so it helps me relax. It helps my mind think of the ocean and feel good. Sometimes I dream.”~Girl, Age 4.
The necessary hot topic right now relates to the epidemic of gun violence, particularly in schools. The NPR released an article called, Here’s How to Prevent the Next School Shooting, Experts Say which addresses taking a more “public health approach” within school settings. I have to agree with many of the points in the article; in particular cultivating a more positive, accepting and preventative school climate.
As a teacher of 12+ years, I can speak with validation to the daily experiences within a high-stress professional environment that we call school. It is often overlooked by the public. Not only are teachers responsible for researching and developing lesson plans that will ensure individualized academic growth to meet state and federal standards, engaging in and applying new skills learned in required professional development, managing student behavior and relationships, but we are also responsible for making student safety our number one priority. Without safety, nothing else can be accomplished. Safety comes in the form of verbal, emotional and physical safety. As hard as we may try to establish a culture of respect, responsibility, collaboration and kindness in our classroom, it all starts within the individual. Whether you are the staff member or the student, I believe that you must respect yourself, be kind to yourself and value yourself before positive, balanced relationships with others can be obtained.
Questions for my peer educators-How well are you taking care of you? Do you take time to relax? EVERYDAY? To feel silly? To not feel so worried? To feel like you are at peace by the ocean? To dream? What the 4 and 5 year olds feel is possible for you, too. By lowering your own stress levels, think about the positive effect it can (and does) have on your kiddos. Carve out a few minutes for yourself each day. Zone out and just be one with you.
Better yet, set a goal to start a little mindful time each day with your students. Do an inventory of how they feel or what they think about “mindfulness” before starting (Day 1) and then again after 30 days. I have no doubt that your findings would be astounding. Will it be perfect? Of course not. But I am confident that you will see growth in their positive mindsets.
If a crazy Pre-Kindergarten day happens to go by and we forget “Mindful Time,” a child will remind us of that fact before the end of the day arrives. I am sharing this because I believe that this is so telling. The FACT that our youngest students can verbalize the importance of taking time to just BE confirms that we are establishing core qualities of balanced, kind and responsible minds of the future. This is what we need to model. This is what we need to teach. Once this is established and underway, positive relationships and experiences will naturally fall into place. Just walk into our room any day, and you will witness how these little people go out of their way to help one another and to make each other feel accepted. Self-care. Self-love. Friends, this could be the key to the prevention of violence in our schools and in our society.
the blog space
~Derek, Father of 2 and Elementary School Principal
Just a girl with a dream to collectively build a healthy mind space for children, while creating a healthier mind space for ourselves.
Copyright Healthy Mind Space 2019