Wednesday, April 5, 2023

What is Mindful Preschool?

During Covid and all my time online I found a children’s conference. It was amazing! It had multiple specialists from teachers, psychologist to mindful practices and the benefits.

Here is a wonderful video from a woman that started a mindful preschool in Seattle, Washington. I have taken classes online at Mindful Schools and continue self-studies of mindfulness. Mr. Rogers was mindful in all his episodes. His same sweater and the consistency of his episodes were a comfort to children.

Why Do Children Need Mindfulness?

As we progress from hunter gather people, and we had to fit in with our society for survival to a smaller clan with the ability to be ourselves has created much more freedom for our children. More choices, more opportunities, more, more, more. Our current lifestyle has shown through statistics that mental health transparency is revealing suicide increase, anxiety increase, and stress increase.

How can we help our children?

This is Dr. Dan Seigel's Wheel of Awareness shows all the things in our lives that cause emotions or feelings. When we are aware of these we can better understand them when the feeling surface. He and many other specialists have been studying the brain and how we can help children understand what is going on inside their bodies. This awareness will help them to be better able to handle life with simple coping skills. Mindfulness is not meditating, it a way of life with AWARENESS. If you can name it, you can tame it, then you will be able to heal it.

And once a child can harness being able to understand their bodies, then they can LEARN. Mental health first. If a teacher understands mental health, brain development, and their capabilities than she can have a better chance of teaching the child academics. And academics are learned through play at this age.

This video says it best what mindfulness is and I am continuing to be inspired by others that are helping children reach their potential.

Is mindfulness in the general education setting?

Mindfulness is definitely a buzz word. More people ie. teachers, universities, legislation, are becoming aware of this opportunity to learn how to help children in their classrooms. It is practiced in some public schools. It is most beneficial if a teacher is mindful all day and sets this example for her students. More phychologist are being hired in public school however, budgets are also a hindrance. But it is just beginning to be at the forefront of needs for children, whereas, all that America cared about is that they could read. America is finally learning that kids can't read if they have mental health needs at the forefront.

Monday, April 3, 2023

Conventional Preschool

What is Conventional Preschool? Hopefully they understand the value of play when it comes to learning.

It may look like the children are just hopping, dancing, singing, coloring and laughing together, but studies have shown that structured play can hone a child’s language, math and social skills. Conventional Preschool generally follows an evidence-based curriculum that line up with the core standards of learning at the kindergarten level.

Teachers are pressured to meet District expectations. They are busy taking data (which takes valuable time away from interacting with the children.) Conventional Preschool Teachers are generally not certified teachers. They are not expected to have skills for mindfulness.

And some schools are so desparate for help they will lower their expectations when it comes to who works with children. There is more to 3-5 year olds than ABC's and 123's. Social and Emotional skills need to be priority at this age. And children require more 1:1 help at this age than any other age. They always have something to add to the conversaton, but in conventional preschool they have to be quiet when the teacher is teaching because there are over 12 children.

This is me in my conventional preschool classroom with my daughter. She enjoys the preschool room still today. Teachers do a great job helping classrooms feel like home, and many home-based preschools are in basements in Utah. In a basement? No sunlight? When I was teaching I was moved to a classroom without windows. This is when I decided to make the bold move and quit the school district job. No windows fro preschoolers, especially the kids who love outdoor play was like losing valuable learning possiblities and mental well-being. When we are stressed, seeing out the window can calm an adult or child. The etheral of the trees, and plants helps calm the soul. Swedish academics show that children do not need academic settings until age 7. Children do not start school in Sweden until age 7 and they are one of the top performing academia around the world. So embrace the home-based preschool program, toss the conventional programs out the window (if they have one) and see the benefits of The Hidden School, Mindful Prechool.

At the Hidden School there is always something happening in our "Mr. Rogers" neighborhood ie. houses being built, trees being cut down, puppies, goats, decomposing apple, or a peregrine falcon crashing into the window while chasing a finch. Just look around where you are standing.

You'll see, your missing whats happening right infront of your nose.

Saturday, April 1, 2023

What is Montessori Method?

The Montessori Method encourages self-directed learning that promotes self-confidence, independent thought and action, and critical thinking, while fostering social-emotional and intellectual growth. Education for peace is a foundational component of Montessori education at all levels.
Montessori preschools are focused more on individualized learning. There is less overall structure and more freedom for children to learn at their own pace. Likewise, the Montessori setting encourages a more independent mindset and “work” environment
Each child is valued as a unique individual. Montessori education recognizes that children learn in different ways, and accommodates all learning styles. Students are free to learn at their own pace, each advancing as he is ready, guided by the teacher and an individualized learning plan. Beginning at an early age, Montessori nurtures order, concentration, and independence. Intentional classroom design, materials, and daily routines support the student’s emerging “self-regulation” (the ability to educate one’s self, and to think about what one is learning), in toddlers through adolescents. Students are part of a close, caring community. The multi-age classroom—typically spanning 3 years—re-creates a family structure. Older students enjoy stature as mentors and role models; younger children feel supported and gain confidence about the challenges ahead. Teachers model respect, loving kindness, and a peaceful conflict resolution. Montessori students enjoy freedom within limits. Working within parameters set by their teachers and the classroom community, students are active participants in deciding what their focus of learning will be. Students are supported in becoming active seekers of knowledge. Teachers provide environments where students have the freedom and the tools to pursue answers to their own questions. Internal satisfaction drives the child’s curiosity and interest and results in joyous learning that is sustainable over a lifetime. Self-correction and self-assessment are an integral part of the Montessori classroom approach. As they mature, students learn to look critically at their work, and become adept at recognizing, correcting, and learning from their errors. Montessori supports social-emotional skills. Contemporary research supports the 100-year-old Montessori Method's effectiveness, indicating that children who learn in Montessori classrooms demonstrate stronger social-emotional skills in many areas than children in more traditional environments.
At the Hidden School we strive to use the Montessori method along with mindfulness and a little more freedom. I strive to teach children to be curious about thier own backyard instead of only "at school". Learning is always happening. We are always asking questions. Why does the snow melt on the red color faster than blue? Why is there so much snow falling? Why should we follow rules? Kids ask everything! And I am a mother of 5 grown kids and a grandmother.

Friday, March 31, 2023

I am so amazed at each child's strengths. And sometimes surprised by challenges. But it helps me realize how different each of us are. Everyone has strengths and we are only measured in school's by our academics. It is discouraging to be in school for those that struggle with academics because there are so many other skills i.e. flexibility (able to go with the flow), sense of direction, giving, caring, polite, dexterity, creativity, sense of being, empathy, semantics, sense of humor, grit, persistence, understanding, honesty... etc. But schools don't teach these things, but many of these things come naturally, just as academics seem to be to others. But it would be nice if they recognized these skills in kids. It alway seems that the child that is the biggest handful in the classroom is often the leader outside. Being a Special Educator I realize we only measure one thing- academics. If we are only going to measure academic, then we get the kind of world we are in.
According to this, Billy struggles in school and should recieve an IEP. But he excels in Life Skills. Sarah will continue to feel confident and struggle in Life Skills. It is up to the parent to help her with those. But Billy will continue to be stigmatized by the Academic School System that was created in over half a centry ago. What is the solution? Tell the kids that schools only measure academics and praise them for thier strengths. However, they still get stuck in the system. At the Hidden School we measure all of it, and focus on life skills to prepare them for the world that will tell them all that matters is numbers and ABC's. There is so much more to life than beats the eye of the Education System.

Sunday, January 22, 2023

Write your local legislature to change our schools!

What do we think of when we say "kids today."
Life is Hard.
I listened to the recent Utah State Public Education Legislative meeting and they had Dr. Tibbits from SUU on line that gave a presentation. He is one the is a leader of mental support in colleges. Our high schools and middle school have yet to catch up. And where the funding comes from for SUU to do this beats me.
This comes from the student fee, cares act and othere funds. Kids rush off to college with hopes of being able to please thier mom and dad's dream of going to college. When hard times come knocking at their door they don't want to call home. Because mom cried of happiness and dad bought groceries to fill the fridge. Who is their friend? New Roommates. What if your roomates are kind? And what if they are not kind. It is one interaction after another small interaction that leads to ....hard times.
Tell your kids College will BE HARD.
Take it hour by hour. It's ok to grumble. Surround yourself with kind people. Know that it will pass. But it doesn't help knowing that at the moment bc right now is a mess.
Suicide enters the mind like a virus.
They would rather die than have to deal another day with this. THE ACE PROGRAM AT SOURTHERN UTAH UNIVERSITYwas a life saver for my daughter. SUU has a unique vision for children entering college.
Personalized feel. small classroom's
When will Middle schools and High schools learn from this personalized feel. All Utah is doing is building bigger and better schools. Dr. Tibbits (I apologize if I have spelled his name in correctly but I could not find him on my google search)said that
3/4 of kids are stuggling in college
, 80% of the general public had expeienced some sort of trauma, 25% are homicidal, and 10% are suicidal. WHat is the problem that these kids face? It will take 8-10 weeks before they can get help. Timely care. Care doesn't accept insurance. Teachers hesitate to develop relationships.
What can we, parent do now?
Write legislature and tell them we need smaller, more personal classes.
That is what I do now. I have the Hidden School. A preschool with only 4 children so we can properly teach manners, play, kindness, and what ever else they want to learn or be curious about. I have been in a classroom with 12-17 preschoolers and guess what...It is organized chaos.SO is middle school and High school...organized chaos. Teachers are tired. Teachers are burned out. They are constantly NOT doing enough. However... bigger and more modern schools do not take the organized chaos away. WHat does? slowing down. smaller classes. UTAH! Stop closing our small school and building bigger targets.

Saturday, December 24, 2022

Choices, Patience, and Children

Have you ever noticed when you baby doesn't want to be held by someone. Do you force your baby to go to them? What if it is daddy and he wants mommy? Always used words to convey to your child it is okay to want or not want to be held by someone.
Sometimes mom needs dad to hold the baby or vice versa. At this time say...

"Go to ____________."

- However, sometimes your child wants to be held by you and no one else. Can you blame them? Give them a choice. "I see you want ______________."

And sometimes you have to suck up the feeling of needing a break and sometimes you child has to suck it up. Who has the most understanding of this tolerance level. THE PARENT! So Parents, I know you want a break but now is the time to show your child you will always be there for them. The more you resist, the more they will persist. Some children have more needs than others. And those children that may not need you at all- a child on the spectrum- you may need to interject into their play. They need parents to be persistent, but also give them a break. It is all about moderation on all things.

We all have our tolerane window, and pay attention to yours. Take your breaks not when you kid needs you. Take it when they are asleep, plan date nights, take care of yourself so you can be there for them. When you are on as the parent you need to be there 110%.

Kids have amazing intuition
as to if they feel safe and loved. Even kids in school with teachers, they know which teachers actually care. THey will learn better in the classrooms with loving teachers! studies show this!

So At home, love your child. Bite the feeling to sit without a child on your lap. Take a breath and have more patience than the child. If you need a break, tell them, "I am going________, I will be back." Don't leave them in a room alone. We are social beings. Put your child in the arms of someone and come back ready to start all over building that trust again. Children have more patience than adults!

Thursday, August 18, 2022

Name it to Tame it Dr. Daniel Siegel says, Name it to tame it. And this does work. I think I didn't even name irritated till I was 40. I now have a window of tolerance and when I feel irritated, I need to problem solve. Sounds ridiculous but it is true. And kids do this often. However, they do not know the word for it. Adult can help here. They also do not always have the problem-solving skills to fix the feelings. This is where support is welcome. Children are just starting verbalize solutions about age 2. They do problem solving before this ie. reaching for something and go in their tip toes, or get a stool. All of this is leading to executive functioning. When a child gets upset, they may bite, hit, spit, throw something. When we get cut off by a car we may speed up, slow down, curse, or use sign language to express our feelings. We can teach our kids how to problem solve. And eventually they will learn that they can't always fix the problem immediately.

Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Healthy explosions

The Whole Brained Child by Daniel Siegel and Tina Bryson talks about strategies to help when we or our child forget to think/ or use their upstairs brain.  1. Pay attention to our body. Recognize distress in your child. Help them recognize it.  2. Engage the upstairs brain. Remember It isn't under construction until age 2 years.  3. This brain growth is different in everybody. Therefore strategies begin with distraction- controlled breathing. Daniel Siegel is all about brain integration. Using the upstairs brain and the downstairs brain. And his research is evidence based. Meaning it has scientific proof that it works or is true. Engaging the upstairs brain looks differently for many ages and people depending on thieir history. Taking into consideration their traumas, upbringing, situations, and brain development we have a very broad spectrum of expectations. Mindfulness says we should have zero expectations because expectation bring disappointment. All things considered this may be true for a new teacher or someone that doesn't know your child. However, as parents we know what our child is capable of and we would expect them to not show anger is certain ways. However, if they ever did regress...this would be a tell-tale, sign that something isn't right. All messages from the body are trying to tell the person or those around them something. They are expressing how they feel and if they hold in that feeling they may explode. Healthy explosions. Is there such a thing? In children these are called opportunities to teach. In adults, it is a learning opportunity. If we don't change we don't learn. If we don't learn we don't change.

Thursday, June 16, 2022

How to help your child cope with Anxiety?

Teach your child the thermometer. Once they get from the green, to yellow, to red. It is too late to talk to them when they are at the red. Try to catch the at the Green or Yellow when they can still communicate. Click here to see an example. Depending on the age of the child choose a simpler one for younger children.
Parents are always teahing their child how to respond to anxiety and stress. THink for a moment...How do you handle stress? or anxiety? A growing body of research has highlighted the importance of child mental health for optimal social and academic functioning. International studies show that mental health problems tend to appear early among elementary and junior high school students and can impede self-confidence, social interactions, and cognitive ability. ( Mental Health is a universal epedemic. This is why Early Childhood is so important. Let's prevent these mental problems with a set of tools that help children becuase we know they will inevitablly come up against the fork in the road to be anxious/ depressed or use a skill they know can help them. I am a firm believer in prevention before, before, the problem not just at the fork. Start at the handle. For instance, with teen pregnancy in the 80's a study led them to start teaching about teen pregnancy in the 80's to teens. It's too late by then. Same goes for the diliquents. It starts at the handle, early childhood and teaching the parents. Things to remember when your child experiences ANXIETY according to DR. Dawn Huebner is... Anxiety is there to protect us. Teach the child to look at their absolute surrounding them. Look around your self. Examine each body part. Start at your head.
Is your head on? Are your arms on? Fingers attached? Elbows bend? Heart beating? Hips wiggle? Then give a giggle. Are your legs straight, are they bent. Do you have a snake in your boot? Good. You are doing Okay!
Parent can discuss a time they felt anxiety. Or as a parent is driving they can self talk through the axniety for the child. (be causious not to cause anxiety.) Make it less than <5 second.
Whoa, that car made me worry for a second, then I realized that I can slow down, or stay away from them.
Anxiety is a fear and one of the most universal feelings. Most emotions researchers agree on these five Universal Emotions: emotions that all humans, no matter where or how we were raised, have in common. The movement of the shapes reflects the fluid nature of emotions – the way their strength and frequency varies from moment to moment. Check out this Emotion Atlas that shows the 5 universal emotions and what causes them and what responses are to that emotion. Click here. The Dalai Lama imagined "a map of our emotions to develop a calm mind." He asked his longtime friend and renowned emotion scientist Dr. Paul Ekman to realize his idea. Ekman took on the creation of the Atlas alongside his daughter, Eve Ekman, a second-generation emotion researcher and trainer. The Atlas represents what researchers have learned from the psychological study of emotion.
The Dalai Lama imagined "a map of our emotions to develop a calm mind." He asked his longtime friend and renowned emotion scientist Dr. Paul Ekman to realize his idea. Ekman took on the creation of the Atlas alongside his daughter, Eve Ekman, a second-generation emotion researcher and trainer. The Atlas represents what researchers have learned from the psychological study of emotion.

Thursday, March 31, 2022

Move on from mistakes. List to this tip for not holding grudges and moving on from mistakes. We never punish or ignore a child for asking a question or showing emotion. We problem solve all day at the Hidden School with block with choices. 1. You can continue to sit in the feeling of sadness, or anger. or 2. You can come up with an idea to change your feeling. Usually they choose 2. But once in a while they need to sit in their feeling a little longer. And that is Perfectly fine. When our child gets hurt we want to hurry and fix it or distract them and this creates an uncomfortable feeling around those emotions. It's okay. Next, we identify the feeling. Say it out loud. Then brain storm for the solution. There is really simply 4 ways to solve problem. 1. Tool 2. Time 3. Technicality 4. Wit Lastly, is ask for help. But that goes without saying. We want to teach the kids to problem solve. And they are awesome little problem solvers. They know what they need.

Monday, February 21, 2022

Authenticy is something that is most important to children and teens. They seem to know if we are listening and truly care. When we build these relationships with your children they learn to build these relationships with others. Isn't that all we really want from others in the world. If you are at the doctor, you want to be heard. If you are at a store, you want to be heard. And if you are at school or work you want to be heard. How do you feel when people do not listen? Kids are pouring out their soul to us when they talk and it is always from the heart. Listen Mindfully. It takes effort. But it will make a difference. What if you do not have time to listen at the moment. You are better off telling that person that you are busy but you want to listen. You decide if what you need to do at that moment is more important than listening. Some things can wait but the older you get the more you will appreicate people that let you know they are busy versus pretending to listen.

Monday, February 7, 2022

Putting Perception on Problems

Children are learning to understand their world. They can not yet grasp something that is not available through thier senses, in the future, in the past. Time is not yet important to children and shouldn't be. But they are always learning. This is perception. And they are not into seeing anyone elses perception but their own. Because they have not learned empathy yet. Putting perception to problems by a visual of small and big is attainable for children after age 4 going on 5 years.They are learning that some things they can do themselves and others they need to ask help. Kids do not like asking for help because they want to do everything themselves. But we also know, as adults, learning to ask for help is difficult but needed at times. Kids are also learning to be independent at this age. So what they can do we want them to do. These kids are learning so much and they all seem to contradict each other if we think about it. Putting perspective to problems by providing a quick visual for kids will introduce them to putting problems into catagories. Our brain likes catagories and kids can do this at this age. Adults may need to help them undertand what a big problem is and small problem is but this is great lesson at this age. I even use it as an adult!

Saturday, January 29, 2022

Early Childhood Mental Health Summit (2nd annual)

The second annual Early Childhood Mental Health Summit happened in Utah this month! January 2022. Hooray for people recognizing the need to intervene at a young age and doing headway into the now very visible problem of adolesence mental health and suicide rates. Thank you Governor Cox first lady Abby Cox for being on board and seeing the importance of this and for The Children’s Center for collaborating and putting this together. Early childhood and Mental Health in Utah with the work of the University of Utah works with The Children's Center drafted recommendations. Goal is: Help every child secure a solid foundation. Summary: ECMH 8 Strategies to help with Early Childhood Mental Health: 1. create a baseline estimate of need for early childhood mental health 2. Collaborate and coordinate with a wide variety of partners. 3. Increase awareness, promotion and preventions related activities. 4. Increase integration of physical and behavioral health for children. 5. Create incentives to help develop and retain ECMH Early Childhood Mental Health workforce. 6. Develop and provide training and certificates. 7. Estimate the long term value of ECMH in Utah. 8. Decrease disparities. The Hidden School’s recognition of these strategies and what we are doing to address them: 1. The HiddenSchool Found this need during Covid. The Extraordinary kids Summit was discovered and multiple speakers spoke on the importance of secure relationships with young children and supporting their development. THis seems so common sense however it is neophyte to many. 2. The Hidden School is seeking ways of working with others and will reach out to The Children's Center. 3. Parents and others are unaware of the importance of early childhood development. Accessing these resources are just starting to be met. 4. This is directed toward Medicaid enrolled children and helping them seek treatment earlier. The Hidden School School is a form of Child Find with a Special Education Teacher with resources to refer children as need to more services. 5. The Hidden School recognizes that there is a tolerance window for every human. We have found our sweet number for being able to help others at a ratio of 4:1 for student teacher. We are seeking more ways of getting the state involved in recognizing this small ratio importance for children by writing our legislation. 6. The Hidden School has found The MIndful Schools as a training and resource for educating caregivers and certifying teachers to enact Mindfulness for children. 7. Conduct a study. The Hidden School is in its first year. 8. Collect data. The Hidden Schools gives discounts to race and other minorities because it is for the good of all children attending The HIdden School to be exposed to diversity ei: vegan, race, socio-economic status. Early Childhood is a crital time of development. Plasticity is happening at faster rates. Factors that effect this is disparities ei. COVID, race, conflict, low-income, depressed parents. What they need is a secure relationship. This is what The Hidden School provides. A small class size with a resilent class theory that imploys Mindfulness for the children to know that there is just ONE more Person that loves them. Thank you to the Children's Center of Utah, University of Utah, University of Oregon, University of Maryland and Governor Cox and Fist Lady Abby Cox.