Principal's Weekly Message (The Week of April 4)
The Petrides School
PRINCIPAL’S WEEKLY MESSAGE
Mental Health News: Attached you will find "Mindfulness for Children" article, prepared by Petrides School Psychologist, Dr. Giovanna Sinanian. It includes mindfulness activities to try with your child(ren).
SCHOOL SURVEY: Deadline has been extended to April 15th, parent letters were sent home with students in grade PreK-8 and mailed to high school families. Contact your assistant principal with any questions.
END of YEAR DATES:
We are beginning to plan our end of year activities, please note our tentative dates:
May 26th – Senior Prom, 6 to 10 pm
June 7th – 8th Grade Semi-Formal Event
June 8th – 4th Grade Luau (during school day)
June 9th (daytime) PreK and Kindergarten celebrations
June 9th – Senior Awards Night, 6:30 pm
June 17th – 8th Grade Memories Book Signing Party (during school day)
June 21st – High School Graduation Rehearsal/Senior Yearbook Signing Event, 12 noon
June 22nd – 8th Grade Final Assembly, 9:00 am
June 23rd – High School Graduation Ceremony, 6:30 pm
Here’s what’s happening next week . . .
Biomechanics Day! Virtual Trip for Physics classes
3:45 pm School Leadership Team Meeting
Mindfulness Exercises for Children
Mindfulness is noticing the present moment, on purpose, in a non-judgmental way. It is paying attention to yourself internally (feelings, thoughts, body sensations) and externally with your five senses (sight, sound, taste, touch, smell).
Mindfulness practice is a brief and fun experience with the goal of enhancing children’s focus and slowing their reactions to gain more self-control, and to increase their self-awareness. Mindfulness for kids is typically 1-5 minutes in length and starts with simple activities. Children begin mindfulness with concrete objects or self in the environment, progressing to mindfulness of the body, and then being mindful of the thinking process.
Some general guidelines to teach your child about mindfulness:
Observe: Notice or pay attention to the current moment, using your five senses. Be sure to notice both inside and outside of yourself. “I notice the feeling of tension in my shoulders.” “I observe the feather is light and fluffy.”
Describe: Put into words your experience. Remember to describe using facts, and not your interpretation (making up your own explanation of the situation): “My baby sister is smiling, her cheeks are puffed out and I can see her tiny teeth.”
Participate: Be fully in the experience-don’t hold back! “I’m riding my scooter, feeling the wind on my face with no worries of who may be watching me.”
Nonjudgmentally: Pay attention without deciding if situations are good or bad. Stick to what you can see and name the facts: who, what, where, how, and why
One-mindfully: Do one thing at a time, in the current moment. Being one-mindful is the opposite of multi-tasking.
Anchoring: In mindfulness, you may get distracted. Return your attention using an anchor- a place to mindfully focus your attention and come back to the present. You may use different anchors, such as:
- Breath- pay attention to your breath. How does it feel as you breathe in through your nose and exhale out of your mouth?
- Words- come back to the moment with words. As you breathe in, say a word like, “Peace,” and as you exhale, say a different word, “Love.” Notice your stomach or chest as it rises and falls with your breathing. As you breathe in and out, count from 1-10. You can also breathe in for a count of 1, and out for a count of 2.
The following are some examples of mindfulness exercises you may do with your child:
Sniff the Flower, Make a Wish
This is an exercise to teach children how to breathe mindfully. Pretend you are smelling a flower as you breathe in. Pretend you are making a wish on a dandelion as you blow out. Sniff the flower…blow on the flower to make a wish.
Blow bubbles and watch them slowly rising in front of you. As the bubbles rise, imagine that each one contains a thought, feeling, or body sensation. After you notice it, let it slowly float away.
Instruct your kids to turn-on their “Spidey senses,” or the super-focused senses of smell, sight, hearing, taste, and touch that Spiderman uses to keep tabs on the world around him. This will encourage them to pause and focus their attention on the present, opening their awareness to the information their senses bring in. This is a classic mindfulness exercise and encourages observation and curiosity.
The Mindful Jar
This activity can teach children how strong emotions can take hold, and how to find peace when these strong emotions feel overwhelming.
- First, get a clear jar (like a Mason jar) and fill it almost all the way with water. Next, add a big spoonful of glitter glue (or a mixture of regular glue and dry glitter) to the jar. Put the lid back on the jar and shake it to make the glitter swirl.
- Finally, use the following script or make your own script:
“Imagine that the glitter is like your thoughts when you’re stressed, mad or upset. See how they whirl around and make it really hard to see clearly? That’s why it’s so easy to make silly decisions when you’re upset – because you’re not thinking clearly. Don’t worry this is normal and it happens to everyone.”
[Now put the jar down in front of them.]
Now watch what happens when you’re still for a couple of moments. Keep watching. See how the glitter starts to settle and the water clears? Your mind works the same way. When you’re calm for a little while, your thoughts start to settle and you start to see things much clearer. Deep breaths during this calming process can help us settle when we feel a lot of emotions” (Karen Young, 2017).
This exercise not only helps children learn about how their emotions can cloud their thoughts, but it also facilitates the practice of mindfulness while focusing on the swirling glitter in the jar.
Try having the kids focus on one emotion at a time, such as anger, and discuss how the shaken glitter versus settling glitter is like that emotion.
Lie down, stretch your arms and legs out in a star shape. Your head, arms, and legs are the five points of your starfish.
Breathe in and out. Starfish don’t breathe with a single mouth or nose. They breathe through tiny tube feet that are like little dots over their whole bodies. As you breathe in, imagine you are drawing air in through every part of your body. As you breathe out, imagine the air moving through your whole body.
Starfish are at home in the movement of the ocean. Let your breath move steadily in and out, just like the ocean tide.
Pick a place where you want to observe what’s going on (it’s great to practice this outside). Like a stealthy owl, find a spot to perch silently, where no one can easily see you.
Look, listen, and feel the atmosphere with all your sense. What do you notice that you might not have seen without Owl’s help?
Imagine rain pouring down on you from the top of your head, down your body, and off your feet.
As the rain washes over you, feel all the dirt washing away-not only from your hair and skin but all of you, inside and out. From the top of your head all the way down through your feet, the rain cleans everything: your feelings, your confusion, your worries, every cell in your body.
When the rain stops, emerge from your “shower” and take a moment to enjoy this clear, refreshed feeling.
Tell your kids that you will be going on a safari: their goal is to notice as many birds, bugs, creepy-crawlies, and any other animals as they can. Anything that walks, crawls, swims, or flies is of interest, and they’ll need to focus all their senses to find them, especially the little ones (Karen Young, 2017).
A similar exercise for older kids is the mindfulness walk. This exercise provokes the same response-a state of awareness and grounding in the present.