New School Year Mindfulness “To Do List”

My school year started this week. For many in education, this week brings back a whole host of stress and anxiety. Some of it is self inflicted as we understand our awesome duty of care for the children in our schools. Some is inflicted by government demands, the sudden and rapid changes we face, extreme accountability and funding crisis.

How we tackle the year is important for both our own emotional well-being and the emotional well-being of our children. We can minimise some of our stresses. However, we need to accept that their will always be stress and, for a successful school year, we need to take control.

Learning to take several mindful moments during every day gives our minds periods of time during the day to recuperate. It allows us to be more considerate of our actions rather than those actions becoming unmindful reactions.

Stress, good and bad, is a part of life. It is part of the human condition. The key to a calmer, more peaceful life is how we react to these stresses.

It doesn’t take a lot of time to be mindful, it just takes practice and, sometimes, a few reminders. That is why I have come up with a Mindfulness To Do List that encompasses many different aspects of mindfulness.

–  Take one minute , close your eyes and breathe deeply. Do this several times a day.

– Observe your thoughts & feelings without judgement.

– Focus on the present moment and note one specific detail.

– Think of five things that you are thankful for in your life.

Make several copies of the photo reminder at the top of this post and place them in prominent places as your reminder to be mindful. Then ensure that you tick off ALL the things on the list EVERY day.

Remember, the most important step in educating children in developing their own mindfulness skills, is to be a model of mindfulness.

“You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf.”

– Jon Kabat-Zinn

Find more mindfulness strategies can be found in 100 Ideas for Primary Teachers: Mindfulness In The Classroom, 50 Fantastic Ideas for Mindfulness or on www.educationsvoice.wordpress.com

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50 Fantastic Ideas for Mindfulness

Mindfulness has a lot to do with understanding your emotions and using them to broaden your life experiences. Taking time to enjoy the moment.

Today, for me, is both a day of excitement and also one of being humbled.

Today is the release date of my new book, 50 Fantastic Ideas for Mindfulness published by Featherstone-Bloomsbury and endorsed by Alistair Bryce-Clegg.

I am excited because I know and understand the importance of supporting the life skill of positive mental health and developing strategies in being able to deal with the stresses of life. If children learn positive strategies as a child, they are more likely to have those strategies more firmly embedded and used as an adult.

The blurb sums it up nicely.

“Introducing mindfulness in Early Years settings equips young children with life-long skills that develop as they mature.”

I am pleased that, “50 Fantastic Ideas for Mindfulness features a range of activities that enable children to build awareness of their emotions, focus on the present and empathise more easily with others. From ideas to manage distractions to games for independence, this collection of ideas includes colourful photographs and easy-to-follow instructions, making it a fantastic resources to bring mindfulness into the Early Years.”

Why am I humbled? I am humbled because I get to share this with the people who are working with children every day; with people who truly care about making a difference in a child’s life now and in the future. I am humbled because you are the ones creating a positive legacy for our world.

The book 50 Fantastic Ideas for Mindfulness is part of a great series of books for Early Years education and can be purchased all over the world. Some purchase links are:

Bloomsbury: https://www.bloomsbury.com/uk/50-fantastic-ideas-for-mindfulness-9781472955227/

UK Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Fantastic-Ideas-Mindfulness-Tammie-Prince/dp/1472955226

USA Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Fantastic-Ideas-Mindfulness-Tammie-Prince/dp/1472955226

Australia: https://www.booktopia.com.au/50-fantastic-ideas-for-mindfulness-tammie-prince/prod9781472955227.html

My first book is also available around the world, 100 Ideas for Primary Teachers: Mindfulness in the Classroom published by Bloomsbury. It can be found in English and Spanish around the world.

Book Review – What’s Going On Inside My Head? By: Molly Potter

The importance of children’s Mental Health has been hitting the mainstream of societal concerns. The importance in developing positive mental health strategies is now being seen by parents, carers, educators and health care practitioners as a basic life skill. But, sometimes we can find it hard to explain to children what positive mental health is all about.

Molly Potter has created an amazing book that breaks down positive mental health into its different aspects in a child friendly way. Each chapter focuses on a different area of positive mental health in terms that are not over simplified but in a way that helps children grasp mental health concepts that can support them for life. Each two paged chapter is beautifully illustrated by Sarah Jennings and opens up discussions between parent/carer/educator that allows children to learn more about what is happening inside their head in 12 individualised areas. Everything from, “How should I think about myself? to “What do I do with emotions?” to How can I improve my thinking habits?” are a part of this book. Finally, there is a three page section on “Guidance for parents and carers” that provides tips for supporting positive mental health and help develop resilience.

This is definitely a book every home and school should have and use to support the development of positive mental health in children.

This book can be bought at Bloomsbury: https://www.bloomsbury.com/au/whats-going-on-inside-my-head-9781472959232/

or Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Whats-Going-Inside-Head-conversations/dp/147295923X/ref=sr_1_5?keywords=Molly+Potter&qid=1559470260&s=gateway&sr=8-5

…. and Breathe! A Mindful School Community

It may seem that I have been a bit quiet over the last few months.

As a full time Headteacher (Principal) in a school filled with challenges and in need of lots of TLC, I can easily become overwhelmed by the magnitude of the job.

I tend to throw my whole self into the needs of my school. My passion is deep and I fight tooth and nail for what is right for the children of my school.

I am lucky. I am not alone in my passion. I am surrounded by a group of people (staff and governors) that are equally passionate about what we are doing to change life chances for children. But, we need to take care of one another.

Top Tips for Being a Mindful Member Of a School Community

1- SMILE!

Smiling can change our brain, through this powerful feedback loop. Every day your brain keeps track of your smiles. It knows how often you’ve smiled and which overall emotional state you are in.

On average, children smile over 400 times a day. Whilst happy adults still smile 40-50 times a day, the average, however, is only about 20 times.

So, be mindful of your smiles. They are good for you and good for others.

2- CRY!

I know that for some, crying is seen as a weakness. I don’t see it as a weakness. To me it is a sign of release. I admit, I am an emotional person; always have been. I cry when I am happy, when I am sad, when I am scared, when I am mad, when I am frustrated… I think you get the idea! Crying is a release. Crying allows you to be in this moment in time and release the built up anxiety stored in your body.

A good mindfully driven team understands that and allows each other to have those moments without judgement and with understanding.

3– Show Gratitude and Spread Kindness

Take opportunities to show gratitude and spread kindness. How this looks in each school community will be different depending on the dynamics. Basically, follow the Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you..” This can be as basic as a hug to as elaborate as a Basket Of Kindness (sharing basket).

4- Breathe!

Breathing is one of the most natural things a person can do and an automatic reflex that is hard wired in our brains. However, we sometimes actually forget to breathe! We hold our breathes as if this will freeze time or stop the inevitable from happening. But, the minute it takes to support a colleague in mindful breathing and a friendly reminder to BREATHE can change a situation and support more than anything else.

It becomes something like a secret code word.

5- STOP! 

What people want sometimes is to be listened to with full interest and intention. Take a deep breath, look them in the eye and LISTEN to what they are saying. Don’t allow your mind to wonder and don’t start formulating a response before they finish talking. To them, what they have to say is extremely important and, many times, they don’t expect an answer or response straight away and will usually appreciate the pause that will be required to formulate your response when they are finished talking or the ability to get their troubles off their chest.

Finally, REMEMBER…

Remember that there are no PERFECT people in the world and because there are no perfect people, we can all get caught up in our own passion and despair.; we all have our own battles. A good Mindful team is one that allows for imperfections and raises up those who that need that extra care.

OUR CHILDREN ARE LOOKING AT US AS THEIR MODELS. Be a GOOD one!

#PositivePostItDay 2019

Have you heard of Positive Post It Day? Maybe you have and maybe you haven’t. That is ok.

A few years ago, a young lady in Canada called Caitlin Haacke, decided to take a stand against bullying. She tells her story On Tedx here: http://youtu.be/cElB84gf6uc.

She single handily has started a movement of positivity that is sweeping the world. Her belief that positivity begets positivity that began as an anti-bullying campaign, has led to children and adults alike considering their words carefully and filling the world with kindness, love and appreciation.

The impact of this young lady’s simple idea can be seen in this news report, http://youtu.be/0zLteIn7IS0 and this compilation video of the positive post it notes written in one day, http://youtu.be/87RC1NQgPzQ.

I have been left in awe by the inspiring, clearly mindful activity of gratitude, that has begun. It fits very clearly within my Mindfulness in the Classroom series, particularly Gratitude. These little Random Acts of Kindness can spark a change and belief in the compassion of humankind.

In schools, this is a perfect circle time, PHSCE lesson or Mindfulness activity. In work places, it is a mindful activity that encourages good mental health and well being.

Thus, I purpose we all join Caitlin in her a Positive Post Its and declare together, Thursday 14th February 2019, #PositivePostItDay . (It seems fitting to celebrate this day on Valentine’s Day and as part of International Random Acts Of Kindness Week.)

How can you participate?

1- Share this post with others and tweet, Face Book, Instagram, Snap Chat, etc letting others know about the day. Get it out there! Let me know you are joining us.

2- On the day, no matter where you are (schools, work, businesses, home, online, etc), create and share Positive Post It Notes (Be sure to watch the videos if you want some ideas.). Stick the notes on the walls, windows, books, online social media feeds, ANYWHERE!

3- If you share them online, make sure you tag them as #PositivePostItDay. Let’s paper the world in positivity one post it note at a time!

Here is what #PositivePostItDay2016 looked like:

https://educationsvoice.wordpress.com/2016/04/02/positivepostitday-a-growing-mindfulness/

Time to stock up on Post It notes!

Children’s Mental Health Week

The week of 4th February 2019 is Children’s Mental Health Week.

This is championed in the UK by Place2Be https://www.place2be.org.uk supported by HRH Dutches of Cambridge.

We teach children how to write, read, add and subtract along with a whole host of other subjects. Those things are important towards helping them to be successful members of society.

However, if children don’t have the skills and strategies to cope with the stresses that come with the access and use of that knowledge and becoming members of society, they will not be as successful as they can be.

Together, whether we are parents, teachers, club/team leaders or the general public, we need to be actively engaged in giving our children the tools needed for a positive mental health now and in the future.

The development of mindfulness in children can support this positive mental health development.

A number of strategies can be found here for free: https://educationsvoice.wordpress.com/mindfulness-in-the-classroom-series/

Share your ideas and activities in the comments.

If you have missed the official week, that is ok. The development of positive mental health in children is for all year long and not just for one week.

Find more mindfulness strategies for teachers, 100 Ideas for Primary Teachers: Mindfulness In The Classroom published by Bloomsbury Publishing.

Happy New Year!- Mindful Gratitude

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Gratitude (being thankful) is a fundamental component of mindfulness. To be thankful for the the abundance in our lives as opposed to focusing on the actual material objects is not always readily accepted in our society.

We are a world of moaners. Whinging and moaning about everything from the weather to government is a favourite pastime of the young and old alike. We focus on the bad and are surprised by the good. This leads to a vicious cycle of negativity which then becomes the focus of our attention and anything positive is seen a just a fluke or fleeting moment.

Today, we mark the last day of 2018. Tomorrow we awake to a fresh new year.
Together, let’s end and begin in a state of gratitude. Be mindful of what you have, focus on the feelings those things you do have evoke in you and be humbled by the fact that you are aware and able to take the time to contemplate the good in your life.

This year take some time to start a pattern of mindful gratitude.

Here are some Top Mindful Gratitude Strategies:

1- Guided Meditations: Some people have a hard time starting a practice of Mindful Gratitude. Our negative thoughts push away the positivity or we just don’t know where to begin. Start the day with a Guided Meditation for Gratitude. Allow the meditation to guide you through your exploration of gratitude. Here are some nice Gratitude Meditations: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL76Tcrfnqwv5Mxt47DEZaZ1s6Ps3L3tL6

2- Make a List… one thankful thought at a time. You don’t have to make a long list to develop gratitude. You don’t even need a fancy sheet of paper or notebook. Just start a list. Begin each day by writing one thing you are grateful for. You can make a rule that you always have to write something different or you can repeat things. It doesn’t matter. But, at the end of the year, you will have a list of 365 things that brighten your life.

3- Gratitude Jar: Get a Jar. Decorate it if you like. But, you don’t have to. Each week, write a little note with the date and what has made you grateful and put it in the jar. When you are feeling low, take out the jar and read your little notes and remember there is good in your life.

4- Thank You Notes/Cards: Each week, choose one person or group of people that have make a difference in your life (big or small). You can do this anonymously if you like. It doesn’t matter. Just write the note and ensure they get it. Expressing gratitude makes both you and the receiver feel better.

Life will not always be a bed of roses. There will always be a thorns along the way. How you react to those thorns will set the scene for your everyday life. Mindful gratitude reminds us to appreciate the scent of those roses.

Happy New Year!

  1. Find more mindfulness strategies for children and adults here: www.educationsvoice.wordpress.com or for more ideas for teachers, 100 Ideas for Primary Teachers: Mindfulness In The Classroom published by Bloomsbury. More information can be found here.