I wanted to give some suggestions of how to use the strategies we are learning in class at home or other locations. By now your kids should be familiar with the three brain functions of Amygdala, Prefrontal Cortex (PFC) and Hippocampus, especially if you give them reminders. To review:
Amygdala: The flight, fright or flight part of our brain. (Good for dangerous situations but often is triggered by situations that it isn’t called for like before a test or if your parents suggests you clean your room.)
Prefrontal Cortex: The reasoning part of our brain that can make ‘mindful’ decisions.
Hippocampus: The part of our brain we use to memorize items such as our phone number, multiplications etc.
The thing for us to realize is the Prefrontal Cortex can’t work well while the ‘Amygdala’ is going off so we have to calm our amygdala down first. Good for parents to know that sometimes we can’t push our kids too much while they are in this mode of brain so we have to help them calm this part of their brain down by breathing, music, snack, distraction etc. Once their Amygdala calms down, than they can use their Prefrontal Cortex. Our PFC has to be in charge before we can memorize so the hippocampus works so it is very important to learn how to use our Prefrontal Cortex in order to learn.
The kids understand this although may need a reminder or which part of the brain does what. Sometimes in class when they start whining or not listening I ask them which part of the brain is in charge. It’s pretty interesting because they answer “Amygdala” and immediately calm down. Yay! I am hoping this can be a strategy you can use at home with them (as long as we don’t make it obnoxious and stressful, it should work!)
Another thing they seem to have a basic understanding (again you may need to review a little) is being “Mindful”. Mindful means 1.) to pay attention to the moment (versus thinking about the past or future or being distracted by things around them.) 2.) Nonjudgemental.
I have attached a sheet that reviews situations that are mindful or unmindful if you need to review this concept.
Again when the kids aren’t paying attention or say something judgmental about another student (or even me!) I will remind them to be ‘mindful’ and usually they get right back on track.
I’m hoping the parents can reinforce some of this language at home and it can be a tool for the students to learn to control their emotions.
Last week we listened to a bell and the kids had to close their eyes when the bell would go off. Then it was a signal for deep breathing. When the bell went off again we could resume what we were doing. To help them be still we talked about how ‘frogs’ stood still for a long time before moving to catch a fly. So when the bell went off a second time they would try and catch the fly after they were still and did deep breaths. (Got to make it fun for them lol)
I was hoping to send everyone a chime the parents could use to help them stop what they were doing and close their eyes and deep breath. Unfortunately the chimes aren’t loud enough! Oh well, the kids still had fun decorating them. Parents may want to invest in a chime, bell etc. and use it to help their children learn to close their eyes and breathe deep. This helps calm the Amygdala down. Since this is a new concept we will be practicing it throughout the lessons. I’m hoping this can be something they can train their brains to do. I’ll let you know if I think it works (lol).
This week we will be talking about ‘mindful’ listening and seeing. Next week we will take these two concepts and practice them in context of social skills.
I am a mother of 3. I have a passion for helping kids feel comfortable in their 'own skin'.