Friday, January 22, 2016

Mindfulness in Education - Notes from Meeting

I am so fortunate to have a job where I can spend time each day teaching and 
practicing mindfulness with wonderful students and caring adults. 
The gratitude in my heart is GENUINE! 
I have included a few of the slides from last night's parent meeting on "Mindful Education." 
If you  would like to learn more but weren't able to attend, please contact me so  can set up a time to talk. I would welcome an opportunity to share our program and hear your thoughts. lisa.heurung@breckschool.org.
The last three slides are video clips of Mindfulness in Action at BRECK!!

(If you can not view the video clips, use Chrome Web Browser.)





video video


video

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Parent Meeting - Thursday, January 21 @ 6:15

You are invited to join us Thursday, January 21 at 6:15 for a wonderful night of sharing. We will be discussing "Mindfulness in Education" and share what our Lower School Mindfulness Program looks like in action. A light snack will be served. We will meet in the Breck's Lower School Library.  Please email me if you have any questions -  lisa.heurung@breckschool.org.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Calming Jar

Two weeks ago, the amazing Lower School Breck faculty met after school to create stunning and practical calming jars for each classroom. The jars were introduced to the students and they LOVED them.

You may wonder what calming jars are.  Let me explain by asking you two questions: Have you ever had a strong feeling immediately followed by a strong verbal (or physical) response? Have you ever regretted the strong response? If you answered, "YES," to the second question, you are not alone. We all, at times, have been overwhelmed, frustrated, hurt, or excited by something and have reacted impulsively in a way that wasn't helpful. In fact, at times, our impulsive responses end up making things worse.

Student Examples of Strong Feelings followed by Impulsive Reactions - 

  • Your friend has done or said something that you don't like and you respond immediately with hurtful words. Does your response help or hurt the situation?
  • You become VERY frustrated with a math question and you respond immediately by tossing the paper and/or giving up. Does your response help or hurt the situation?
  • Your parents ask you to do something you don't want to do and you respond immediately by yelling, NO." Does your response help or hurt the situation??"


Brain research shows that when we get upset and have an immediate strong reaction to a situation, a part of our brain called the Amygdola releases adrenaline and cortisol. This reaction prevents us from thinking clearly and is why we may say and do things that we wouldn't do in a calm state. The calming jar is a great visual way for children to learn how to respond to those strong feelings in a healthy way.

Student Instruction: 

  • The glitter represents our feelings, thoughts and emotions.  When something happens that causes us to have a strong feeling our brains get clouded - just as the glitter is clouding the water. Let's stir up the jar, breathe and count to 10... what happens? Yes, it clears up and looks calm again. If we can remember to take deeps breaths and pause for a few seconds when our feelings get stirred up before responding, we can then react with a clearer mind and can make better decisions about how to handle the situation.


I actually have a calming jar in my home which my family enjoys. It is very peaceful to watch the glitter settle and reminds us to pause before we say or do something that we will later regret. Breck students have asked if they can make one at home so I am posting the directions below.


I pray that your winter break is filled with exactly what you need to feel joy in your heart!

Sincerely, Lisa Heurung

Create You Own Calming Jar 
Creation Idea from the DIY-Instructables website

You may use any jar with a secure lid 
(I use plastic water bottles with small children to prevent them from breaking)

Put 1 cup of hot water into your jar.  

Put about 2 tablespoons of glitter glue into the jar 
(2 big squirts without the lid if using Elmers Glitter Glue)

Shake or stir to break up the glitter glue.

Add fine glitter until there is about a 1/2 to 3/4 inch layer on the bottom.

Fill the jar with water, leave about 1 inch at the top for shaking room.

Add some chunkier glitter and a few flower sequins too.

If you want more color, you may add one drop of food coloring. 
Be careful – you want the color to be very light so you can see through it and enjoy the glitter.

Put the lid on tightly.

Once it's really tight...shake shake shake!

When you have your perfect calming jar, I suggest glueing the lid on to prevent it from being opened and spilled!





Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Lower School Parent Association Meeting - 11/11/2015

I'm very excited to share the journey Breck's Lower School teachers and students 
have taken with Mindfulness this year.  I hope you can join us!


Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Just Breathe


This video is a great introduction to one way a developmental mindfulness program can have a positive affect on children. Click the link to view.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

An Introduction to the Breck Lower School Mindfulness Pilot Program


 MINDFULNESS

What do you think of when you hear the word mindfulness? What images come to you?  

Although the positive effects of mindfulness have been studied for more than 30 years, the term has come to the forefront recently and has many people talking... but why?  I have been a teacher/counselor for 25 years and have seen first-hand the effects our increasingly multi-tasked, scheduled, and technological society has had on our children both academically and socially. Although I support and see the great benefits that both new technology and extracurricular activities bring to students,  I also see there must be a balance. There must be a natural way for students to unplug, unwind and recharge. I floated between various research studies and ideas about this issue before delving into the study of mindfulness. What interested me the most was the research that reflected the direct link between teaching mindfulness strategies to students and an increase in their ability to focus and maintain self-control. Mindfulness has been defined educationally as: "Training the brain to have focused attention and increased emotional regulation."  The more I read, the more excited I became!

After a year of research I felt it was time for action. As all educators know, if you are going to effectively teach something, you first need to have a deep understanding of the subject on a personal level. To that end, I enrolled in a 6-week interactive online course through MindfulSchools.org to learn "Mindfulness Fundamentals." In June, 2015, I participated in an in-depth mindfulness retreat in Santa Rosa, CA. The 7-day silent retreat was called, Bringing Mindfulness & Compassion to Our Work as Therapists, Educators and Healthcare Professionals. That experience changed my life both personally and professionally. When I returned home, I enrolled in another 6-week course through MindfulSchools.org called, "Mindfulness Curriculum." 


I was eager to return to Breck School in the fall to share the benefits of Mindful Education with our faculty.  Their response was inspiring! As a result, we have elected to launch a mindfulness pilot program with all students, grades PreK - 4. In each classroom, I partner with teachers to introduce the focus lesson once every six-day cycle. The teachers then reinforce and practice mindfulness throughout the five remaining days. Ask your child when mindfulness is most helpful to him/her. :-)  If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to email, lisa.heurung@breckschool.org, or call me at, 763-381-8377. If you would like to have more information, you are also welcome to attend our Lower School Parent Association Meeting on Wednesday, November 11 at 8:45.