Hi Kerry! Welcome to 'Teacher Types' for the day. So, your son is 13? Do you feel like those 13 years flew by?
My daughter is 22 months old. Do you have a memory that stands out in your mind of your son at this age?
Oh, so many. He was adorable and it is the most precious age for freedom and all things movement. My son was like an ever ready battery, he had boundless energy and a love of music and free play. He was never a great sleeper and I often wondered where his inner energy came from. I certainly could not match what he had lol. One of my fondest memories is the way he snuggled right in. He still cuddles but he is the same size as me now, so sometimes I feel like he is cuddling me, not me cuddling him. Which is wonderful too. As a parent, I wish I knew then what I know now and I would have been a lot more relaxed about things in the early years. I took my parenting extremely serious back then. I do now, but with a more relaxed approach and I am way more confident and calmer than 11 years ago.
Do you have a favourite song or musical activity that you use in your 'Kids in Harmony' programs?
Kids in Harmony cherish their family
Cherish themselves as well, they feel so good they want to yell.
Kids in Harmony cherish their family
Cherish their community, they choose to live more happily.
So simple, yet such a wonder affirmation for children and their families.
Would you mind giving us a brief description of 'mindfulness'?
I have a beautiful blog on mindfulness titled “Don’t just function in your parenting… flourish".
Mindfulness is a sure way to flourish. It can be described as being fully aware of the present moment. The dictionary tells us it is ‘the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something’.
Keeping it nice and simple, mindfulness is our ability to notice what is happening within us and around us, without judgment. Mindfulness helps us to not jump forward into the future with the worry of ‘what if’ or constantly lament or revisit the past with ‘but why?’. It helps us to find steadiness in the right here and now, to be “fully present, aware and awake”.
With mindfulness you can bring more ease into the smallest of jobs like doing the dishes or a bigger challenge like handling a tantrum (yours or your child’s).
I teach Reception students (5 year olds). Can you offer one or two suggestions to incorporate mindfulness into our busy classroom day?
Oh, how wonderful for you! Any exercises that makes them aware of their breath is a great place to start. Two activities come to mind.
Flower Breath – Visualisation and creative play.
You will need: White paper and colour pencils.
Give the children a white piece of paper and coloured pencils in front of their desk or in front of the floor if they are sitting on a mat. If you feel these will be a distraction you can bring them out straight after the breathing exercise.
Have the children touch their nose and breath in as if they are smelling a flower. Breathe out through the nose and repeat. Then encourage them to have their feet flat to the floor and back straight, hands gently on laps and if it’s comfortable close their eyes. Imagine a flower, choose any flower you like. Then have them do the ‘flower breathing’ with the visualization of the flower they choose. When they are finished have them draw the flower they imagined and visualized in their head. Once they are finished you can ask them questions.
- What made you choose that flower?
- How did it make you feel when you were visualizing the flower?
- How did you feel in your body when you were flower breathing?
- What words describe your feelings?
I know this age are not fluent writers, you could record the conversations or write them down yourself. Or you can do the exercise without the children writing anything and purely enjoying the conversation.
Star Jumps and Star Fish
Performing Jumping Jacks to the song 'Twinkle Twinkle Little Star'. Then at the end have the children lay in star fish. On the floor with legs and arms out wide.
Leave them laying in Starfish until they have come back to calm and centred.
Then come back together and asked them questions.
- How did you feel when your body was energized and moving?
- Did you notice your heart beating faster?
- Did you notice your breath?
- How did you feel in star fish?
- What happened to your body in star fish?
And you can keep adding to the questions.
Both of these activities are to enhance self-awareness, which is the foundation of mindfulness.
Hope you enjoy them and please let me know how the children enjoy them.
Similarly - do you have any tips to help manage my daughter's sometimes epic toddler tantrums! And how I can remain calm?
Focus on the feelings not the behaviour. I think if you can practice the power of pause quick enough to tune into your child’s feelings and not the behaviour it can prevent you from having your own mother melt down. I have a crazy to calm free video series that are really quick videos explaining power of pause and some other great strategies for parenting in the moment (www.crazytocalm.com). Your parents and teachers may find this really helpful.
If you focus on feelings you can tap into the empathy bank very quickly.
- “I see you are furious, it’s okay to be angry”
- “I see you are upset, it’s okay to cry Mumma is here for you”
- “I see you need some time to vent, let it out and when you are ready we can talk about it”
This strategy helps to defuse the emotional triggers we have as parents and limits the possibility of shaming, or labelling or punishing our child.
AND, it takes a lot of practice, we are not perfect, we lose our cool and sometimes they are valuable lessons for our child to see we make mistakes, we forgive ourselves and others.
Have you done the VIA Character Strenghths survey? I did at a staff PD day last year and I got 'zest' as my top strength. What was your top character strength? Do you agree with this result?
Yes, I did the VIA survey years ago and I love their work. I must say it’s been a while since I looked at it. The survey is wonderful and there is an option for youth’s to do the survey too. It is a very useful tool to better know yourself. Zest is one of my faves.
When I did mine, I got Wisdom and Knowledge. I could definitely relate to it and it was fun to do. I have some of my coaching clients perform the survey and they find it really helpful too. I really love Martin Seligman’s work, especially his theory on P.E.R.M.A for wellbeing and flourishing.
- Positive Emotions
This theory really resonates with me and my work.
I'd love to try out your colouring book with my class. How best can I use it?
|to download your own copy go to Kids in Harmony|
That is lovely. A great way to use it, is share one of your favourite virtues/values from the list of 30 (If you have the picture book The Little Book of Harmony you could read it to them first but you don’t need it of course ). Talk to the children about why you value it, why it is important to you and how you see it ‘in action’ within the classroom. Have that one photo copied for the class and have them experience the colouring in. Encourage them that it is not about correct colour, colouring within the lines or doing it perfect, it is an opportunity for them to create and express in any way they choose. There is space for drawing on the page.
Then have a lovely conversation on what the virtue means for them and how they feel about it.
Example. You choose ‘KINDNESS’
"I really value kindness as a teacher as it helps me to connect with you all. I look for ways to show my kindness every day to each and every one of you. Some kind things I have done today is …"
"Would anyone like to share one act of kindness that they have done or seen today?"
I would do all of this before you do the colouring in.
I had been requested to do a colouring in book for a long time and I was apprehensive as I did not want it to be about stifling creativity. For me, it is about the words on the page, the actions, feelings and connections we want to create. Children (and some adults) love to colour. It is so therapeutic and gives a time for calm and peace. The Little Book of Harmony Colouring in based from the original picture book I published in March last year. Which is a wisdom book for children, I’d love to send you and your class a copy as a gift from me.
Thank you Kerry - how kind :)
Finally, could you share a favourite motivational quote with us?
Oh, I would love to.
|made with canva|
Without a doubt this is my all-time favourite as a parent and parent educator.
I strongly believe that each and every child deserves an adult in their life that believes in them. That one or more adults that encourage, nurture and ignite self believe within a child. As adults we have the opportunity to support a child to know that they are worthy, valuable and they already have strengths within them to live to their potential.
It is a powerful quote to remind us all, to bend down to a child and whisper ‘’grow”.
Thank you so much for your time Kerry.
You are more than welcome. I feel honoured to be invited into your amazing community and your inspiring work!
To connect with Kerry, whether you live in Townsville or are simply interested in reading more of her advice, you can find her here. Parenting coaching is also available by phone or skype even if you don't live in the area.
Website - Kids in Harmony
email - email@example.com