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!

#MindfulFocusChallenge- Day 10: Smile Exercise

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, our mindful focus today is to SMILE a lot!

Smile

– Be mindful of your smiles today.

⁃ Were your smiles self-motivated or due to a reaction from seeing others smile.

– Notice how your body feels when you smile.

⁃ Does your mental state change, even just for a moment?

– Does smiling get easier as the day goes on?

Respond in the comments, tweet us @Ed_Tmprince or respond on our Facebook page : https://www.facebook.com/educationsvoice/ with #MindfulFocusChallege and let us know how you found this strategy.

#MindfulFocusChallenge- Day 7: The Movie Exercise

It is good for us to take more than a few minutes to break away from everyday life and movies are a good way to do this. I always find it relaxing to cuddle up on the sofa and turn on one of my favourite movies. Today, our mindful focus exercise is just that!

⁃ Seat yourself in a comfortable position with your favourite comfort items.

⁃ Select either a favourite movie or a new one you have been waiting to watch.

⁃ Take two deep, Mindful breaths and turn it on.

⁃ While watching a movie, pay attention to how you get engrossed in the movie.

⁃ Observe closely what emotions does that movie bring out in you and take a note of it.

⁃ Once the movie is over, take a few minutes to reflect on the movie and the emotions.

⁃ End with a few deep mindful breaths and proceed with your day.

Respond in the comments, tweet us @Ed_Tmprince or respond on our Facebook page : https://www.facebook.com/educationsvoice/ with #MindfulFocusChallege and let us know how you found this strategy.

#MindfulFocusChallenge- Day 6: Hair/Head Exercise

Have you ever considered how many times you touch your hair and head? Many people, when particularly nervous will run their hands through their hair or over their head, twist locks of hair or rub our scalps. The same goes for when we are happy, excited, sad and more. Today, we will actually pay attention to these movements.

⁃ Seat yourself in a comfortable position.

⁃ Take two deep, Mindful breaths.

⁃ Then, turn your attention to your head. Begin by either running your fingers through your hair or over your scalp.

⁃ Pay attention to how it feels against your hands.

⁃ How does it feel?

⁃ How does it make you feel?

⁃ Take the time to massage your scalp with your fingertips and enjoy the feelings.

⁃ Then, one small bit at a time, concentrate on the tingling of the skin, warmth and feel of the front, middle and back of your head.

⁃ Allow all of your attention to be on your head and hair.

⁃ End with a few deep mindful breaths and proceed with your day.

Respond in the comments, tweet us @Ed_Tmprince or respond on our Facebook page : https://www.facebook.com/educationsvoice/ with #MindfulFocusChallege and let us know how you found this strategy.