Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Mindfulness Parent letter

Dear Families,
For my classroom lessons the students are currently involved in learning what it means to be mindful.  Mindfulness simply stated by Psychology Today is, “a state of active, open attention to the present.” Thus far we have focused on learning how to take a mindful breath (ie. inhaling and allowing our belly to expand and exhaling allowing the belly to deflate like a balloon) and how to mindfully treat others (ie. being aware of the power of our words/actions and their impact on others).  Further lessons will focus on being mindful of how we feel, move, and eat as well as focusing on our senses. Overall, students are learning to be present in the moment instead of being reactive or overwhelmed by all the noise that is going on around them.  

Mindfulness is not another thing that we have to add to our plate.  Already when we teach our children to be more aware of their emotions, surroundings and decisions we help them become more purposeful in their responses and actions. Research, according to Mindful Schools, has shown that mindfulness helps students with attention, emotional regulation, compassion and calming.  We already have the capacity to be present and aware of what we are doing in the moment. The students are learning to listen and pay attention to those innate qualities that they have with mindfulness exercises.

There are many simple ways to practice mindfulness.  The following are just a few options that you may want to try at home with your child:  Paying attention and experiencing our environment with all of our senses, finding joy in the moment, assessing our mood and putting strategies in place, noticing and naming how we are feeling/what we are thinking (eg. I am feeling worried right now, I need to take a deep breath), eating a mindful snack together (eating slowly and being aware of how the food tastes), taking a mindful nature walk, and focusing on our breathing to calm down in order to help us navigate through tough/negative moments.  

As always if you have any questions feel free to reach out.

Sincerely,

Jackie Kleiner
HMS School Counselor

jkleiner@sau66.org

Monday, November 11, 2019

Zones of Regulation classroom lessons

Dear Families,
The students are just completing the Zones of Regulation unit during my classroom lessons. We have worked on identifying the four Zones, having a working knowledge of them as well as coming up with tools to help aid in self-regulation. Self-regulation is something that everyone continually works on throughout their lives.  We all face situations in which our limits are tested. The Zones language and tools give students the ability to more easily name their feelings and manage them.   

The Zones offer a system to categorize our feelings into one of four colored zones.  This framework provides strategies to teach students to become more aware of and independent in controlling their emotions and improving their ability to problem solve conflicts. 

The Red Zone is used to describe extremely heighted and intense emotions.  These may include: anger, rage, terror and elation. 

The Yellow Zone is also used to describe a heightened state of alertness and elevated emotions, however students have more control when they are in the yellow zone.  Emotions in the yellow zone include: frustration, anxiety, excitement, silliness, nervousness and annoyance.
The Green Zone is used to describe a calm state that is optimal for learning.  Emotions in the green zone include: happy, focused, ready to learn, calm and content.  
The Blue Zone is used to describe low and slow feelings. Emotions in the blue zone include: sad, sick, tired, and bored. 
All of the Zones are natural to experience, but the lessons focus on teaching students how to recognize and manage their Zones feelings based on the environment that they are in.  The students are expected to be in the yellow zone, with heightened emotions, when they are on the playground. However, when expectations change and they are back in the classroom that same heightened emotion would not be conducive to a learning environment.  
Students have also explored the tools that would be beneficial to them in each zone.  We discuss many calming options that are choices for the students. These include: Breathing, exercise, stretching, talking to someone, taking a break, going for a walk, coloring, thinking happy thoughts, and fidget tools.  The students then think about which tool would be beneficial for them in each zone. This self-awareness helps students remember these tools when they are needed to help manage their emotions. 
For more information you can visit Zonesofregulation.com and if you have any questions please feel free to email me.
Thanks,

Jackie Kleiner

Sunday, November 18, 2018

2018-19 Parent letter


Dear Parents/Guardians,

Welcome to the new school year!  I am very excited to continue my journey as school counselor at HMS.  My goal is to help all children feel better about themselves so that they are then better able to, and more eager to, learn in the classroom.  During the school day I am involved in many different roles.  The following is a snapshot of some of the activities I am involved in. 

I am in all of the K-3 classrooms on a daily basis teaching lessons. This year my classroom lessons will occur first thing in the morning and will focus on relaxation and calming strategies.  I will utilize portions of the Zones of Regulation curriculum, the Calm Classroom curriculum as well as the Yoga 4 Classrooms program.

The Zones of Regulation curriculum, www.zonesofregulation.com, teaches students self-regulation skills. The Zones language helps students realize when they are becoming less regulated and gives them tools to help them manage their feelings.  The Zones are broken down into the following four categories to help students more easily express their feelings. 

Text Box:  LIFE IS 10% WHAT HAPPENS TO US AND 90% HOW WE REACT TO IT. The Red Zone is used to describe extremely heightened states of alertness and intense emotions.  A person may be elated or experiencing anger, rage, explosive behavior, devastation, or terror when in the Red Zone. 

The Yellow Zone is also used to describe a heightened state of alertness and elevated emotions, however one has more control when they are in the Yellow Zone.  A person may be experiencing stress, frustration, anxiety, excitement, silliness, the wiggles, or nervousness when in the Yellow Zone.

The
 Green Zone is used to describe a calm state of alertness. A person may be described as happy, focused, content, or ready to learn when in the Green Zone.  This is the zone where optimal learning occurs.

The
 Blue Zone is used to describe low states of alertness and down feelings such as when one feels sad, tired, sick, or bored. 

The Calm Classroom curriculum, calmclassroom.com, helps students/adults learn the skills needed to promote a calm learning environment.  Its three areas of focus are self-awareness, mental focus, and emotional resilience.  Self-awareness helps us to better understand how our thoughts and emotions influence our behavior so that we can make more conscious decisions. Mental Focus helps us navigate through a world filled with distractions and helps us cultivate the skill of focused attention. Emotional Resilience allows students to utilize an effective emotional management strategy, which helps them self-regulate, and achieve a state of calm. 

Yoga 4 Classrooms, www.yoga4classrooms.com, allows for the creation of peaceful, productive, learning-ready classrooms in which students will learn to use yoga and mindfulness to improve their focus while developing a lifelong awareness of the importance of their physical and emotional health.

In combining aspects of all of these programs into my classroom lessons I hope to instill strategies for students and teachers to use throughout their day. 

Another aspect of my job is talking with students on a day-to-day basis about any issues that may arise in their lives.  I meet with students throughout the school day as needed, anything from a periodic check in to a weekly visit. All students, throughout the school year, are given the chance to have lunch with their peers in my office.  This allows the students to have a chance to become comfortable in my office, which makes them feel connected and comfortable in my space should they need to visit in the future. 

I am always available to talk with parents and teachers to provide ideas when a student/family is working through any difficult situation.  If I don’t have the answer hopefully I will be able to find a resource that will be helpful.  Please let me know if you have any questions about my role here at HMS.

I look forward to meeting all of you throughout the school year!

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Zones of Regulation

I have been presenting lessons on the Zones of Regulation to all of the students at HMS.  The Zones of Regulation are concepts used to help students learn how to self-regulate.  The Zones create a system to categorize how the body feels and places all of your emotions into four easily recognizable colored zones (blue, green, red and yellow).

THE BLUE ZONE IS USED TO DESCRIBE A LOW STATE OF ALERTNESS.
*FEELINGS SUCH AS SAD, TIRED, SICK OR BORED ARE IN THE BLUE ZONE.

THE GREEN ZONE IS USED TO DESCRIBE AN IDEAL STATE OF ALERTNESS.
*FEELINGS SUCH AS CALM, HAPPY, FOCUSED, OR CONTENT ARE IN THE GREEN ZONE.
*WE ARE IN CONTROL WHEN WE ARE IN THE GREEN ZONE.

THE RED ZONE IS USED TO DESCRIBE AN EXTREMELY HEIGHTENED STATE OF ALERTNESS.
*WHEN YOU ARE IN THE RED ZONE YOU MAY BE EXPERIENCING RAGE, EXPLOSIVE BEHAVIOR, PANIC, EXTREME GRIEF, TERROR OR ELATION.

THE YELLOW ZONE IS A HEIGHTENED STATE OF ALERTNESS.
*WHEN YOU ARE IN THE YELLOW ZONE YOU MAY BE EXPERIENCING STRESS, FRUSTRATION, ANXIETY, EXCITEMENT, SILLINESS OR FEAR.
*IN THE YELLOW ZONE YOU ARE MAINTAINING SOME LEVEL OF CONTROL.
The Zones are very user friendly and you can easily incorporate the language at home with your children.  Be sure to ask your kids about what they are learning! 


Source: Zones of Regulation by Leah Kuypers

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Apologizing

We've all been there - our children make a mistake and we rush in to demand they apologize.  It turns out there is a better way to show children that even though they misbehaved they aren't "bad".   Try helping your child calm down first and giving them some time to collect their thoughts.  Once they are calm, talk about how their behavior has affected someone else by giving concrete examples that they will understand and relate to.  Then talk it through together to help them figure out what they could do next time instead of making the poor choice.  Since, we can't take the words or actions away, help your child think about what they can do to make the other person feel better. They may want to draw them a picture or share a toy together - which will help your child understand that they are responsible for correcting their own mistakes.  Lastly, encourage and guide your child to apologize for their actions.  This could be done verbally or written depending on the child's comfort level.  Following these steps will help teach your child to mean their apology instead of simply forcing them to apologize.  Once you have guided them to an apology be sure to compliment your child for helping make someone feel better and taking responsibility.  By following these steps we can teach our children to take responsibility for their mistakes instead of simply saying the rote words, "I'm sorry".

You may also want to read a story such as Sorry! by Trudy Ludwig.  In this children's book, the author emphasizes how to take ownership of our actions and right our wrong.  It also acknowledges how their is a whole lot more to apologizing than a careless word tossed out.
 

Saturday, February 13, 2016

The effects of intense emotions

Emotions, particularly intense emotions send our body into overdrive and can cause complex physical responses.  When we're angry our heart rate increases, adrenaline flows and blood pressure spikes.  Anxiety is a shockingly complex disorder, and one that can completely change your body's chemistry. The stress that anxiety puts on your body can lead to a host of different issues. One of the most common is stomach pain but it can also lead to vomiting, nausea or diarrhea.  Anxiety releases epinephrine, which causes the body to produce extra levels of stomach acid. That acidity causes the lining in the esophagus to become irritated, and this can lead to not only stomach pain, but also nausea and vomiting. Due to the extra acids in your stomach if anxiety is left  untreated it can lead to additional health concerns.  
Learning how to regulate our emotions more effectively will drastically improve these intense feelings.  Follow these tips when your emotions are on overdrive to help regulate your body; 
*Eat healthy - include fruits, vegetables, water, whole grain carbohydrates in your regular diet  
* Breathe deeply
* Exercise
*Take a break and do something that you enjoy
*Visualize yourself facing and conquering your fears
* Get support from family or friends
*Make a plan as to how you are going to tackle the problem and feel in control again
* Rest and recharge
* Try peppermint tea, ginger, crackers, toast or whatever comfort food helps calm your upset stomach
·       

www.webmd.com/parenting/.../anxiety-stress-and-stomachaches

·       
·       
·      
·