Archive

Monthly Archives: June 2021

How Does Stress Affect a Child’s Development and Academic Potential?

Understanding cognitive development and stress in children can add context to systems of education.

Pamela Cantor, M.D. practiced child psychiatry for nearly two decades, specializing in trauma. She founded Turnaround for Children after co-authoring a study on the impact of the 9/11 attacks on New York City school children. She is a Visiting Scholar in Education at Harvard University and a leader of the Science of Learning and Development Alliance.

Cantor, Pamela. “How Does Stress Affect a Child's Development and Academic Potential?” Big Think, 26 Dec. 2020, bigthink.com/yes-every-kid/how-does-stress-affect-a-childs-development-and-academic-potential.

Marketing and Design Coordinator

Rachel Wixey & Associates

[emily]

I chose this video because I think it is important to note the stress that kids, even infants face every day, what it can lead to, and how we can manage it.

5 Mental Health Issues Students May Face this Summer

An excerpt from 5 mental health issues students may face this summer by Suzi Godson

The past year and a half have shown that school is about much more than academic achievement. Remote learning taught us all that school provides routine, structure and exposure to positive social norms.

When schools close their doors – whether due to Covid-19 or just school holidays – the one in six young people with mental health issues are hardest hit.

At MeeToo – a peer support app where young people can share their worries – we see an escalation in posts around five issues every single summer.

Here we highlight the major areas to watch out for, and what teachers can do in the final weeks of term to prepare their pupils for the long break ahead.

Children's mental health: Issues that can affect pupils over the summer holiday

Loneliness
In school, young people are surrounded by people to talk to, but that is not a given in the holidays. Social media snaps of classmates together can exacerbate feelings of isolation.

What can teachers do now?
Before the holidays, reiterate the importance of inclusivity, kindness and reaching out to each other over the summer. Get students to research local events, activities and meet-ups over the summer and add them to the school calendar, encouraging them to socialize.


Lack of routine
Routines can completely fall apart in the holidays. Downtime is helpful, but spending days aimlessly scrolling social media is not.

What can teachers do now?
Explain how structure supports mental health, and help them set weekly goals to combat boredom and depression. Get students to pick a skill that they want to master or improve over the summer and encourage them to keep a video journal to log their progression over the holidays that they can present in September.

Use school email or social media accounts to suggest optional learning activities at regular intervals throughout the holidays – but use free scheduling tools so you can plan now, and have a well-deserved rest over the holidays.


Self-harm
Young people who self-harm avoid asking for help, in case their coping mechanism is taken away. Without friends and teachers around, such harmful behaviour is easier to hide.

What can teachers do now?
Our data shows that disclosing self-harm anonymously within a supportive peer community gives young people the confidence to open up to someone in real life. Signpost online support resources on the school website.


Disordered eating
MeeToo has seen a 263 per cent increase in posts about weight, body image and diet amongst 14- to 16-year-olds during lockdown. Research shows that social support is critical for people with eating disorders, but those with working parents can be alone for most of the day during holidays.

What can teachers do now?
Encourage students to check in with each other over the summer and signpost anyone you are worried about to resources like Beat’s website, which runs scheduled chat rooms, or the MeeToo app, which features recovery stories from young people.


Anxiety
Our data show that anxiety levels spike at the beginning of every new term. This may seem to suggest that school makes young people anxious, but digging into the data reveals underlying issues, like changes in friendships over the holidays and worries about next term.

What can teachers do now?
Make time for children to share their worries about next year before the holidays start. Whether it’s seating arrangements, uniform worries or losing friendships, sharing concerns with their peers in a safe space like tutor time could stop anxieties spiraling over the summer, and will open up a conversation about checking in with each other.

Full Article:


5 Mental Health Issues Students May Face this Summer


 BY Suzi Godson


Godson, Suzi. “5 Mental Health Issues Students May Face This Summer.” Tes, 22 June 2021, www.tes.com/news/five-children-mental-health-issues-pupils-schools-students-may-face-summer.

Marketing and Design Coordinator

Rachel Wixey & Associates

[emily]

For a lot of children, summer is the best time of the year. Home with family and friends instead of at school, but for the kids who rely on school as a safe-haven, summer vacation can be a lot more stressful. With the traumatic aftermath of the pandemic, a lot more students will be facing the struggles that come with summer vacation, so it is important that we give them the tools to navigate it. 

5 Fun Mindfulness Activities for Kids

An excerpt from How Mindfulness Benefits a Growth Mindset by Alexandra Eidens

Practicing mindfulness techniques can help children change their mindset from a FIXED mindset to a GROWTH mindset.

First, mindfulness can help children feel empowered, so they can learn to try new things and take more risks.

Second, using mindfulness techniques like deep breathing and tensing and relaxing the muscles can help children overcome anxiety when they make mistakes.

Third, by promoting self-love and self-compassion, mindfulness activities can help children overcome negative self-talk.


Here are five simple mindfulness activities for kids to help them live in the present and focus on the positive using mindfulness.

Everyday acts can be turned into mindfulness exercises for kids. You and your child can be engaged in mindfulness in the midst of any ordinary activity, which, in essence, really makes it an extraordinary activity.

From walking outside and going on a safari, to shaking a glitter jar or tensing and relaxing muscles, there is no limit when it comes to practicing mindfulness.

You can even encourage your child to eat mindfully or read a book mindfully because any activity can be done with a mindful awareness.

The most important thing about mindfulness is being in the here and now — living your life and taking the time to enjoy the world around you.

Full Article:


5 Fun Mindfulness Activities for Kids

 

BY Alexandra Eidens


Eidens, Alexandra. “5 Fun Mindfulness Activities for Kids.” Big Life Journal, 2021, biglifejournal.com/blogs/blog/5-fun-mindfulness-activities-children-breathing-exercises.

Marketing and Design Coordinator

Rachel Wixey & Associates

[emily]

Kids are high energy, so it can be difficult to give them calming activities. By making mindfulness into a fun game, kids can learn that being in the moment can be fun and enjoyable. It also gives kids a helpful tool for when they feel negative emotions, such as frustration.

How Mindfulness Helps

An excerpt from Benefits of Mindfulness for Kids and Teens by Sherri Gordon

The practice of being mindful allows children and teens to cope with frustration when they are faced with something difficult in their lives. It can also be used when they need to focus their attention on something specific and not allow distractions to derail them. The more kids and teens practice being mindful, the better they get at it.

Plus, it really works. In fact, research shows that practicing mindfulness can improve attention spans for just about anyone—including young people with ADHD who often have trouble paying attention. Overall, people who learn to practice mindfulness are able to pay attention better and are less distractible. Mindfulness also helps individuals stay calm under stress, avoid getting too upset, get along better with others, and be more patient. It can even impact learning, help kids and teens become better listeners, and help them feel happier overall.

Childhood and adolescence are important stages in the developmental process for young people. What happens during these phases of their lives will lay the foundation for their their future mental health.

Mindfulness helps students learn how to pause in all types of situations and respond in a thoughtful way rather than just reacting. This skill is especially helpful when they are faced with challenges or encounter kids who engage in bullying.

Not surprisingly, practicing mindfulness can help kids and teens learn how to manage stress, regulate their emotions, focus on the task at hand, and develop a positive outlook on life.

Kids and teens who use mindfulness also develop a better understanding of how their brains work. They may even develop a sense of curiosity about how their minds work and why they feel the way they feel, which in the end may lead to a deeper understanding of who they are as a person. Research has shown that when mindfulness is used in schools it can provide a range of cognitive, emotional, and social benefits.

Cognitive Benefits

Research has shown that teaching kids mindfulness can impact their cognitive skills, particularly the executive functions performed by the brain. Executive functions are responsible for a person's ability to pay attention, switch focus, organize information, remember details, and engage in planning.

In fact, one study of third-grade students over a period of eight weeks found that when a mindfulness program was implemented in the school, the students showed improvements in regulating their behaviors and focusing on the task at hand when compared to a control group that did not participate in a mindfulness program.

Meanwhile, another study found that students participating in a 24-week mindfulness program scored better on attention-based activities than other students in their elementary school. Likewise, a study of preschoolers found that students with a mindfulness curriculum scored better on academic performance tests. They also showed greater improvement in areas that predict future academic success.

Emotional Benefits

Emotional health, or a positive sense of well-being, is an important component of every child's life. Not only is it the basis for mental health, but it also can help deter mental health issues like:
Anxiety
Stress
Depression
Self-esteem issues
Improved social interactions
Overall, being mindful or participating in mindfulness activities can not only help students manage stress but also increase their sense of well-being. For instance, one study found that after participating in a mindfulness program students were more likely to report feeling optimistic. Meanwhile, another study found that preteens reported feeling calmer, getting better sleep, and having an enhanced sense of well-being after participating in a five-week mindfulness and stress-reduction program.

Social Benefits

Difficulty interacting and communicating with others can lead to problems with learning, understanding, and school climate. But mindfulness programs have been shown to improve these skills and lead to positive results within the school.

For instance, a five-week mindfulness program in an elementary school led to better participation in classroom activities. Meanwhile, a mindfulness program in a high school helped nurture mutual respect and care among students and improve school climate.

Full Article:


Benefits of Mindfulness for Kids and Teens


 BY Sherri Gordon


Gordon, Sherri. “How Kids and Teens Can Benefit From Mindfulness.” Verywell Family, 17 Sept. 2020, www.verywellfamily.com/benefits-of-mindfulness-for-kids-4769017.

Marketing and Design Coordinator

Rachel Wixey & Associates

[emily]

As adults, it is easy to overlook the stressors that kids go through. Giving them a healthy outlet such as mindfulness can help lead them to a better path and be able to regulate the strong emotions that come along with navigating the world. 

ABC of Mindfulness

An excerpt from Medium.com by Ravi Lekkala

Have you ever tried to pull a door when it actually says push, or tripped over not minding your step? You are not alone. And these are only less complicated situations in life.


I’m grateful to my yoga teacher at my primary school who introduced me to the world of meditation. I’ve been practicing meditation for over three decades and interacted with several other practitioners, learning and sharing different approaches. When it comes to mindfulness, three key elements are crucial.


I would like to throw light upon those 3 basic elements of mindfulness. I believe they are fundamental and indispensable in anybody’s mindfulness journey.

A — Awareness

Awareness is the core aspect of mindfulness.

It is a device to observe and acknowledge the present reality dispassionately, moment by moment.


How to practice:

Start your meditation with focus on your breathing and slowly expand your awareness to the extent possible of the five basic senses. If you notice your mind wandering, you acknowledge the deviation and refocus on your breathing and awareness. Then, you further expand your awareness to your thoughts. You try not to control your thoughts but just observe and acknowledge them without judgement.


How it helps:

Not surprisingly, this state of awareness starts reflecting in your day to day life. You notice improvement in your focus and concentration. You are more often attentive and seldom absent-minded.

Please note this is only a by-product of your practice and not an expectation to start with.



B — Being with experience

Being with experience complements and enhances awareness.


How to practice:

You try to observe your thoughts and feelings by fully being with your experience of the current moment. You try not to resist uncomfortable thoughts or encourage comfortable ones. You try to avoid digging past associations or building future aspirations. You just try to know and cherish being with your present experience.


How it helps:

You start to comprehend situations of life with increasing clarity, and start accepting the reality. And this makes you better equipped to be unaffected by the feelings of anxiety and even pleasure.

Please note the reality itself doesn’t change, but your reaction to it does.



C — Choice

Awareness and being with experience leads to a conscious choice.


Once you have a lucid awareness of the present reality and accept the same by being with the experience, you are in a better position to make a clear choice of doing or not doing something. That is in a more free manner without being subject to pressure or prejudice. You will start seeing that the decisions you make and the actions you perform seem like a matter of common sense, and more appropriate.



Like everything else, it takes some practice to become comfortable with meditation. I believe the framework of these 3 basic elements advances your journey of mindfulness and helps you avoid tripping over your next steps of life. Namaste!

Full Article:


ABC of Mindfulness


 BY Ravi Lekkala


Plotkin, Robert. “3 Components of Mindfulness & How They Impact Our Mood.” Technology for Mindfulness, 6 Nov. 2019, technologyformindfulness.com/3-components-of-mindfulness-how-they-impact-our-mood/.

Marketing and Design Coordinator

Rachel Wixey & Associates

[emily]

Having simple steps to Mindfulness can make a concept that seems so overwhelming and difficult a little more comprehensive in a time in which you really need it. Sometimes being in the moment may feel like the last thing you want to do, but when you approach your current situation with attention, you can more easily overcome it.

>