November 22, 2013 by Angel Pricer
There is a Mindful Minute seat in the house my son shares with five other boys and two house parents. Far from a ‘time out’ chair, this seat, and the multiple mindfulness rooms within the school, is a tool to bring awareness to what is going on throughout the day.
Yesterday, when the house parent saw my son sitting in the mindful seat, she asked him if he wanted to talk. “No,” he said, “I was just feeling myself getting a little hyper so I thought I’d take a mindful minute.” Giving kids the tools they need to succeed, and modeling their use is the best way to support their growth; and seeing them choose to use the tools unprompted is a wonderful reward!
How we respond to our environment depends upon a complex web of interpretation that is unique to every individual. And, while it’s impossible to predict precisely where someone else is coming from, keeping our diverse nature in mind can help us to be more effective listeners, promoting cooperative communication and the ability to effectively respond to whatever issues may arise.
Sometimes things come up that are directly related to us as individuals, and other times we are affected by things that happen to other people. Learning how to handle both types of situations is a key component to developing healthy relationships, and our evening family calls are providing the opportunity for all of us to do just that.
Mid week, we noticed our son had moved from anger to annoyance about having to fill out a bully report for “every little thing I do.’ My husband and I validated his frustration, and reminded him that completing those reports is a great opportunity to bring awareness to what he does and why; and to practice making better choices. He still really misses home, and every day he uses his tools brings him one step closer to the goal.
He also had some concerns regarding one of his peers, which we listened to keeping in mind there was likely more to the story than he might have been aware. After he shared his concerns, I spoke to a staff member who confirmed much of what was reported and provided additional details that my son could not possibly have known.
Staff was open and receptive to debriefing with my son, sharing the additional information and using the situation as an opportunity to deepen communication and understanding. When I spoke to my son the next day, he was much more at ease, feeling safe, heard, and encouraged to continue to openly communicate both with us and staff. This is great progress!
Often, the children and house parents begin the day by walking the labyrinth after breakfast, hiking the trail to school, and spending up to 15 minutes in mindful meditation before academics begin. Love and mindfulness in education has a whole lot to do with the progress that is being made at The Hunter School, and it’s a model I want to bring closer to home.
Image courtesy of Idea go at FreeDigitalPhotos.net