End the School Year with Mindful Gratitude

 

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I’m sitting here on a Sunday afternoon in the sunshine contemplating the last three weeks of the school year. There is so much to do. Reports have been finished but still need to be printed and signed, the end of year performance is in it’s last days of prep, school trips are being prepared along with the million of things to prepare for the new school year that begins in only two months time. Children are tired, staff are tired and parents are waiting anxiously for the “tag you’re it” hand over that will be coming shortly. We can get lost in the whirlwind of the last few days.

Thankfulness leads to increased well-being and, especially, positive moods by increasing our general happiness that is lasting. The residual effects of happiness stay with us, particularly if we are mindful of the happiness and choose to “waddle” in happiness.

Participating in Mindful Gratitude could be a great way to tackle the end of the year. Spending some time reflecting on the wonder of the year, the achievements, the changes and the time that has passed can offer a respite to the chaos the end of year brings.

Take a look through the Gratitude ideas that may be the perfect solution to celebrating the end of an exciting year.

Thankful Wall– Each day until the end of the year, give each child a post-it note and have the children write one thing they have been grateful for his year. It could be big like mastering multiplication or small like getting to be in the same class as their best friend. Watching the gratitude grow gives children a visual link to gratitude.

Gratitude/Thankful diary– Each child has their own diary that they write, draw or glue in things they are thankful for in their lives. In times of upset, they can look through their diaries to remind themselves of all the things that make them thankful.

Thank You cards or letters– Old school! But, it is a powerful tool allowing children a tangible outlet to show gratitude to the people who have made a difference in their lives!

Gratitude Video– Get the children to work in small groups to make a series of videos acting or telling everyone in a creative way the things they have been thankful for this past year as part of a “Welcome to Your New Class” video for the next year’s class.

ABC Gratitude Book– As a class or as small groups, create an ABC Gratitude book with each letter being something they are thankful for. Have the children illustrate and make into a book to share with younger children.

#WeekOfGratitude– This is a five day activity to help yourself and your children mindfully focus on the good things in life. It is all explained here: https://educationsvoice.wordpress.com/weekofgratitude-mindfulness-development/

Maybe you have a great idea! Share it with us in the comments below and help us all end the year being Mindfully Thankful. It will make us all feel good and focus on the important things in life.

#21DaysOfSummerMindfulness Challenge- Day 21 – Developing Mindfulness in Children

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Congratulations! You have made it to the last day of the #21DaysOfSummerMindfulness Challenge! Today we will end on a positive note and show gratitude!

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 as just a fluke or fleeting moment.

By taking the time to be grateful and lingering in the grateful moment, we start to be mindful of the good things in the world. We start to see more positive things; positivity breeds positivity. We start to see the good in people, we crave it and, when we see it, we want to repeat even more good.

This MUST be modeled to children so that they can see the positive effects that gratitude can have on their personal lives.

Today, the challenge is a FAMILY challenge. I declare today, #RandomActsOfKindness Day!

We get caught up in the hustle and bustle of everyday life; mindlessly moving through the day without a real thought to what is happening to others around you. Today, our mindfulness practice with our children will focus on others. We will do this through random acts of kindness.

During the day, have the family randomly do some form of kindness for another person. It does not require any money, only your own free act of kindness.

If you are finding it hard to come up with some ideas, here are some to get you started.

  • Make a Thank You card for someone thanking them for their love, caring, help or any other thing that person has done for you.
  • Do a chore for a sibling or parent without asking.
  • Smile at a stranger that is looking sad.
  • Tweet or Facebook message a genuine compliment to three people right now.
  • While you’re out, compliment a parent on how well-behaved their child is.
  • When everyone around you is gossiping about someone, be the one to butt in with something nice.
  • Write a positive note and leave it in a random place to be discovered by one or more people.
  • Email or write to a person who has made a difference in your life.
  • Let someone into your lane on your way to or from work.
  • Give someone an unexpected hug!

Have each family member try to do at least three RAKs during the day.

I hope that these past 21 days have given you and your child and opportunity to develop mindful practices that are having a positive effect on your lives.

Please let me know how you are getting on over time.

You can continue to follow via:

Blog: Education’s Voice https://educationsvoice.wordpress.com/

Twitter: @Ed_Tmprince

Facebook: Education’s Voice- Mindfulness https://www.facebook.com/educationsvoice/

 

#21DaysOfSummerMindfulness Challenge – Day 6 – Developing Mindfulness in Children

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

By taking the time to be grateful and lingering in the grateful moment, we start to be mindful of the good things in the world. We start to see more positive things; positivity breeds positivity. We start to see the good in people, we crave it and, when we see it, we want to repeat even more good.

Today’s challenge is to encourage thought around the good things happening in our lives and enjoying those precious moments of gratitude withe the Fab Five activity.

Fab Five

You will need:

– paper

– markers, pencil colours or crayons

How to:

1- Take some time to discuss what fabulous things they have in their lives and are thankful for having. Don’t allow your child to only focus on material things. Encourage non tangible things as well such as love from an individual, time spent with an individual or special friendships. Discuss why they are thankful for those things.

2- Have your child place their hand on the paper with their fingers spread and trace around their hands.

3- Then, in each finger, have them write and/or draw one thing they are thankful for having in their lives. In the end they will have five fabulous things that they are thankful for having.

4- In the palm, have them either draw something that represents their personality or write their name.

5- Place the completed drawing somewhere they can see often. Encourage them to look at it often during the day as a reminder to be thankful.

Don’t forget to share your child’s #mindfulmoment and successes in the comments, on Twitter @Ed_Tmprince or on Facebook at Education’s Voice – Mindfulness ( https://www.facebook.com/educationsvoice/ ).

 

#MonthOfMindfulness Challenge Day 9 – Developing Mindfulness One Day at a Time

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It is not always easy for people to to identify what they are thankful for in their lives. The negativity over shadows all of the good things, blinding us from the the blessings in our life. However, if we can be mindful about showing gratitude, the positive feelings will beget more positive feelings and the balance of our lives will be happier and healthier.

A List Of Gratitude

Write down 5 things you are thankful for having in your life.
After you put a new “thankful” on your list, take a deep breath, smile and “wallow” in the pleasure of that gift. Take a moment to allow your mind to accept this bit of goodness.
Keep this list handy. Add to it over time. Refer to it when negativity starts to set in. Remind yourself that you are worthy.

Having a hard time identifying the positives? Maybe you can start with some of these:
– I am thankful that I am breathing.
– I am thankful that I am giving myself the chance to nurture positivity in my life.
– I am thankful that I can make positive choices.
– I am thankful for the sunshine (or rain).
– I am thankful for the beauty of (an object you enjoy looking at).

Make a mental note about this #mindfulmoment and congratulate yourself for being in the present.

Share your experiences here on the blog or on Twitter @Ed_Tmprince #MonthOfMindfulness .

#PositivePostItDay – A Growing Mindfulness

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I want to thank you right now. I want to thank you because you have taken this moment in time to read this post and, that alone, makes me happy and if you do not read even one more word, I still will feel deep gratitude.

Do you really know what gratitude is? Have you ever pondered the idea?

Gratitude is an emotional state of mind. To be gracious means to have an attitude towards life that gives us, as humans, a sense of rational and personal well-being. It is a strong feel good emotion that releases endorphins that relaxes the body and makes us feel happy. That is why positivity begets positivity! It is ADDICTIVE!

On Tuesday, people around the world celebrated #PositivePostItDay. The day began a few years ago by a young lady in Canada called Caitlin Haacke. After being bullied herself, she decided to take a stand against bullying. She single handily started the 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.

Gratitude is a fundamental component of mindfulness. Teaching children (and adults) to be thankful for the abundance in their lives as opposed to focusing on the actual material objects refocuses on emotions and feelings that raises self-confidence.

As Tuesday unfolded, I was filled with happiness seeing thousands and thousands of children and adults showing gratitude for each other and for themselves! The power of words has never been stronger.

@ecsaibel from Marin, CA, USA

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The children showed a depth of perception that went beyond the simple, “Thank you!”.

@LeeAraoz from Broadway Campus in Long Island, New York, USA

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People became creative and symbolic in their notes. Love and compassion were at the heart of what was happening across the schools.

@SaccoEric and @CCGSMS from Clifton-Clyde Grade and Middle School in Kansas, USA

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The emphasis was on building, not just a positive day, but a positive culture. A positive culture is not a one day wonder. It needs to be repeated over and over again.

@principalkubiak from Cordelia Hills Elementary School in Sonoma, CA, USA

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The magnitude of the number of positive notes began to get mind boggling! Children were not happy with writing just one note, they had to write several notes. It was snow balling; leaving everyone in its wake on a wave of happiness!

@tsschmidty and @HarborViewElem from Harbor View Elementary in Corona del Mar, CA

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 Everyone left these schools feeling valued, loved, cared for and worthy of being a part of the community.

 @Ed_Tmprince and @Green_Lane_PA from Green Lane Primary Academy in Garforth, England

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Over and over, the power of the words the children had for each other was overwhelming and powerful!

The effects began to spread past the school gates. Green Lane Primary Academy received one to two written compliments from parents nearly every day this week!

So, what now? We can’t have #PositivePostItDay every day, right? Or… can we?

OF COURSE WE CAN!

One child asked his mother on Wednesday if we could be positive that day as well.

It is important that we are teaching the children and ourselves that we need to be mindful of our gratitude. We need to remind ourselves how it felt on #PositivePostItDay and remember that WE made that happen with our own attitude. The attitude is what made the difference on that day!

As stated before, gratitude is a fundamental component of mindfulness. It is a perfect way to either start the journey of teaching children the lifelong skill in being mindful or to enhance mindfulness already being developed.

If you want to find out more about #PositivePostItDay read #PositivePostItDay. It really can be done on ANY day you want it to happen. Get other schools to join you and MAKE it happen!

If you want some simple ideas on how to keep that snowball rolling in the development of gratitude, read Mindfulness in the Classroom- Gratitude.

In the meantime, share your ideas in the comments section. I would love to hear about the impact showing gratitude has had on your school or your own lives.

#PositivePostItDay

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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, Tuesday 29th March 2016, #PositivePostItDay .

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!

Time to stock up on Post It notes!

Mindfulness in the Classroom- Gratitude

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Yesterday, across the Internet, I saw #RandomActsofKindnessDay on most of the social media sites. Also, there were lots of news about children’s mental health and the Duchess of Cambridge being a guest editor of Huffington Post and launching #YoungMindsMatter. Those two important things made me think of how important the act of gratitude is in mindfulness.

What does gratitude mean?

gratitude
ˈɡratɪtjuːd/
noun
the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.

Gratitude (being thankful) is a fundamental component of mindfulness. Teaching children (and adults) to be thankful for the the abundance in their 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.

By taking the time to be grateful and lingering in the grateful moment, we start to be mindful of the good things in the world. We start to see more positive things; positivity breeds positivity. We start to see the good in people, we crave it and, when we see it, we want to repeat even more good.

Having regular experiences of gratitude is associated with healthy psychological and social functioning (McCullough, Emmons & Tsang, 2002; Watkins, 2004).

If we teach gratitude/ thankfulness and allow it to grow, we support improvement of our children’s mental health and development of a positive life long skill.

How does a simple act of gratitude support our mental health and well being?

– Thankfulness leads to increased well-being and, especially, positive moods by increasing our general happiness that is lasting. The residual effects of happiness stay with us, particularly if we are mindful of the happiness and choose to “waddle” in happiness.

– The act of gratitude creates a shield that protects us from stress and negativity by decreasing our anxiety levels and feelings of depression.

– When we are grateful for people, it strengthens the relationships allowing us to feel more connected to the world.

How can we bring the act of gratitude into our classrooms to support mindfulness?

– #RandomActsofKindness– Start your own Random Acts of Kindness Day or Week. If you think your class will find it hard to come up with RAKs on their on, brainstorm with the class, put them on little slips of paper folded up and throw them into a hat. Allow each child to take one RAK. Without telling anyone what their RAK is, they complete the act within the given time period. After a few times, children will start doing RAKs without prompting. Remember, positivity breeds positivity!

-Gratitude object (stone, statue,something different) – During a circle time or PHSCE lesson, pass the object around and each person states one thing they are grateful for having In their lives and WHY. Change it up by have the person with the object tell the person to their right one thing they like about that person and WHY.

-Thankful wall/ display board/tree– Each day/week Have the children write on a post-it note what they are grateful for and put it on the board. Watching the gratitude grow gives children a visual link to gratitude.

– End each day with a positive thought– Have each child tell the class what is one thing they have learned that day or what was the best part of their day in school before they leave for the day. These positive thoughts follow them out the door and home.

-Gratitude/Thankful diary– Each child has their own diary that they write, draw or glue in things they are thankful for in their lives. In times of upset, they can look through their diaries to remind themselves of all the things that make them thankful.

-Thank you cards- Old school! But, it is a powerful tool allowing children a tangible outlet to show gratitude.

– Gratitude jars– At the beginning of the year, give each child their own jar. Each week, they write a little note with the date and what has made them grateful and put it in the jar. At the end of the year, they go home with a jar of positivity.

-Holiday Memories– After returning from a holiday, go around the room and invite everyone share one positive experience that happened while they were away.

We have to be models of gratitude. It is not enough to teach it. We must show it ourselves and, as a great side effect, improve our own mental health!

– Verbal Feedback– When you are giving verbal feedback, be explicit in your praise of the aspects that are good. Start your feedback with, “I want to give you a compliment/compliments.” Allow this to be taken in and the child realise that you are grateful for what they have done correctly. Children will start remembering the compliments as they are valued and repeated in more work.

– Say, “Thank you!”– Tell the children thank you and tell them WHY you are saying it.

– Show Gratitude– Be gracious and verbal about what you are thankful for often in the day. It allows this expression of positivity to be normalised and as easy as breathing.
Gratitude is a simple but effective way to develop a positive mindset for children and adults alike.
Share your strategies for instilling gratitude in your classroom or school in the comments below.