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Reflections Magazine : Reflections Issue 58 Autumn 2015
REFLECTIONS • GOWRIE AUSTRALIA • AUTUMN 2015 - ISSUE 58 15 the questions: 'What does your brain look like?' 'What does your brain do?' As always, the children have provided their own unique and interesting answers, from, 'My brain looks like bananas.' to 'My brain is a jungle'. A parent shared a very useful tool, from the work of Dan Siegal, which describes the flight or fight function of the brain. It has helped us to identify what is happening in the brain in moments of stress and when we 'flip our lids'. Through the knowledge and understanding that this is what brains do, children take a little less blame for flipping their lids, but a lot more responsibility for popping their lids back down! They have become empowered and take ownership by using their mindful toolbox to put their lids back down. This has been quite fascinating. Similarly, labeling, validating and sharing emotions has empowered children to manage their emotions more appropriately. Empathy is promoted as children listen to others describing their feelings. During mindfulness we have noticed a strange and immediate calm, a sense of focus and purpose. The circle of children's faces reveals curiosity, calm and concentration. Not only have children expressed feeling happier following these periods, but so too, have educators. Mindfulness is a time, not so much for clearing the mind, but for focusing it on the now, allowing us to reset and energise for the rest of the day. Each day we spend time (varying from 1 or 2 minutes, to up to 25 minutes) according to the mood and interest of the group. Our toolbox is beginning to fill up with a range of hand and body techniques and we have created our own private imaginary spaces including a bubble. Our bubbles can be taken out whenever we wish, need or choose. Some are kept in pockets, behind ears or just about anywhere. The children place their bubbles around them, they have painted them their favourite colours and into them we have added several things which make us feel happy. We have placed something we love, something to touch, something to make us laugh and something we love about ourselves. The latter of these gave us an interesting insight into the children, as many struggled to find something they loved about themselves, often naming toys or things that were separate to themselves, while others were proud of their jumping or singing skills. This is an area we are keen to further expand and explore. As these techniques become more and more familiar and easier to use, we have seen children implement them in their everyday lives, both independently and interdependently. Children remind one another of the techniques such as their bubbles, they identify when they have 'flipped their lids' and support one another to put their lids down. At other times children simply sit and use their hand techniques, such as running a finger up and down each finger of the other hand, tracing a line from one side of the hand to the other. Families have provided feedback on how these tools have been used at home and children have proudly taught their parents how to be mindful. Educators have acted as both facilitators and co-learners and in this way the program has served the dual purpose of supporting both children's and educators' mental health. As the program expands and grows we have combined it with our work on the 'Healthy Together Achievement Program' (a Victorian Government initiative). We are beginning to share our work across the service and beyond, sharing with families and the wider community. The more we connect with the families, the more we understand the children as members of different communities, and the better our programs are informed. Our mindfulness program, so far, has created a unique space for children to better understand themselves, and through this they are more able to understand the hearts and minds of others. References: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2012). A picture of Australia's children 2012, retrieved 18 April 2014, http://www.aihw.gov.au/publication-detail/?id=10737423343. Craig, G.J., and Dunn, W.L. (2010). Understanding Human Development. Prentice Hall: Upper Saddle River, NJ. Department of Education, Employment, and Workplace Relations (DEEWR).(2009). Belonging Being and Becoming : the Early Years Learning Framework for Australia. Commonwealth of Australia: Canberra. Goldfield, S. (2010). From Infancy to Adulthood: The importance of mental health and wellbeing. Early Childhood Education Conference 4-5 June 2010, Caulfield VIC. http://apps.deakin.edu.au/ereadings/equella/download/unit- code/ECP712_TRI-1_2014/item/dfea0abd-0d4e-af5a-e4e9- 9c270e2506ec/version/1/attachment/SharonGoldfieldtheimport anceofhealthandwellbeing Kaiser Greenland, (S). (2012). Teaching the ABC's of Attention, Balance and Compassion, TEDxTalks Retrieved 20th May 2014 < http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LpMvTTIr2p4 > Meldrum, (K) and Peters, (J). (2012). Learning to teach health and physical education: The teacher, the student and the curriculum. Pearson Australia: Frenchs Forest, NSW. Rogers, C.R. and Raiders-Roth, M.B. (2006). Presence in Teaching, Teachers and Teaching: theory and practice, 12 (3), 265-287. <http://ctl.laguardia.edu/dfl/dfl1011/0311/Seeing StudentLearning_Rodgers.pdf>
Reflections Issue 57 Summer 2014
Reflections Issue 59 Winter 2015