One of the best ways to help children prepare their minds and bodies to be ready to learn is through deep breathing.
Deep breathing is a quick and efficient strategy for lowering stress in the body. When we breathe deeply, a message is sent to your brain to calm down and relax.
At this time of the year and especially during this up and down year, it is important to remember to teach our students to stop and breath when they are feeling lonely, upset, aggravated, frustrated, bored, irritated, cranky, etc. AND it is important that the adults in their lives model this strategy frequently!
NOTE: Notice the emotion vocabulary words (lonely, upset, aggravated, frustrated, bored, irritated, cranky). Let’s help children to be specific about their feelings- are they sad because they are lonely or because they are frustrated? The greater depth of emotion words that we can assist children in using and be able to discern how they are feeling with more precision, the more specific we can be with providing useful, intentional strategies plus it is teaching our students to have emotionally rich expression.
FREE DOWNLOAD: Spring Themed Deep Breathing and Calming Strategies…
Young children flow through the day with a lot less stress and upset feelings when the day is predictable. Young children have a sense of control over their emotions and they feel safe and secure when they know what to expect and what is coming next. In the classroom, we implement a detailed visual schedule. As we finish an activity, we turn over the card listing the activity and discuss the expectations for the next event. The visual schedule becomes an anchor for the children.
Benefits of a home daily schedule include…
allows your child some independence of being able to “read” what comes next instead of always asking you
helps your child transition from one activity to the next
provides a format for him/her to begin to understand that words hold meaning and
assists in avoiding some power struggles and/or behavioral meltdowns. the schedule is the one telling his/her what to do next and he/she can view when something they prefer is coming up on the schedule. You can also use the language of, “When we complete…, then we can ….”
Some tips on how you can modify the classroom daily, visual schedule for your home to provide additional emotional security and predictability for your child.
Your home schedule should be generated as a block of activities (i.e. Morning Routine (wake up, dress, brush teeth and eat); School Activities; Play, etc.) instead of with specific times as we do in the classroom to allow you flexibility
Hold a family meeting either each evening at bedtime or each morning during breakfast and allow your child to help develop the schedule.
Remember that the schedule does not have to be perfect, it is a guide for the day. Life might happen and everything on the schedule might not get done- that is okay.
When it is time to transition to a new activity, ask your child, “What does the schedule tell us to do next?” Allow your child the control of turning over or removing the activity card when it is completed or move a clothespin to the next activity when it is time for a transition.
If your child asks throughout the day for preferred activities such as when he/she can go outside, allow him/her to check their schedule to determine how many more activities before the preferred event.
Children (Prekindergarten and Kindergarten) should be allowed at least one hour in the morning and one hour in the afternoon for free choice play that does not include any type of technology device. Play does not need a lot of purchased items. Let your child be creative with the use of recyclable materials such as toilet paper tubes, boxes, magazines, etc. Allow him/her to create art items and/or use the items in dramatic play such as a toilet paper tube can become a phone, a one-inch thick wood piece cut from a branch can become a cookie, a paper plate becomes a wheel in the auto shop for changing tires.
Now more than ever, we need to use positive, precise language to help support the development and practice of positive social and emotional skills.
Remember- the child is still learning. We need to always be modeling, guiding and practicing the skills we want our children to display.
We can reframe the way we view behavior to look through a lens that all behavior is a form of communication or a need for skill fluency practice (need for the behavior to be explicitly taught with precise language and practiced multiple times in multiple situations).
We also reframe our requests to our children to specifically teach what we DO want students to be doing. We are teaching the correct behavior instead of giving attention to the incorrect behavior. This is challenging when we are upset. We cannot regulate our children if we are not regulated ourselves.
Walk away, take three deep breaths, and then reframe your request using direct language of specifically what you want your child to do.
REFRAME to the POSITIVE and/or to the PRECISE
Use walking feet to stay safe.
Use a quiet voice to be ready.
Don’t hit your brother.
Keep your hands to yourself.
Stop throwing your food.
Food stays on the plate or in your mouth.
Don’t look away and listen to me
Eyes are looking at me and ears are open for listening.
Be nice. (Too vague and abstract for young children. They need concrete rules.)
Say “thank you.”
Be kind. (Too vague and abstract for young children. They need concrete rules.)
You take a turn first and then your sister takes a turn.
Don’t grab it from your sister.
Choose a different toy. Your sister is playing with that. Ask your sister if you can play with it after her.