Something to think about…
“The problem is not the problem. The problem is your attitude about the problem.”
-Captain Jack Sparrow
As we enter the month of May, we are reminded as the weather improves, it’s common for behaviors to decline. That truth does not only apply to children. Often, we as adults, find our patience dwindling and responses sharp with a bit of snark. The finish line is in sight, but there is SO much to do before that fateful day. Until then, take a look at some Focused Attention activities to help both teachers and students make it through to the homestretch!
Applied Educational Neuroscience: Understanding the brain can make a noticeable difference in how our days play out. A student’s school picture can help us physically identify who a student appears to be. That picture does not tell us what they have been through…what they need from us. A person’s brain scan provides us with a snapshot of what parts of the brain are firing and how some may be underdeveloped. Experiencing trauma, especially at a young age, rewires our brain. When this happens, children often have little control over their reactions when they do not feel safe or backed into a corner. It is important to know your students and their prior experiences, especially if they are at risk or are a part of an underserved population.
Focused Attention Practices: Now that you are aware trauma can rewire the brain, what can you do about it? Fortunately, there are a number of activities designed to assist individuals in repairing their brain. One strategy to implement is Focused Attention activities. According to Dr. Lori Desautels, “A focused-attention practice is a brain exercise for quieting the thousands of thoughts that distract and frustrate us each day.” When we are able to intentionally focus on our brain state, we have a better chance at regulating our emotions. When used with students, we are able to assist them in finding practices that help to calm and regulate their emotional state. Taking time to pay attention to our thoughts, feelings and actions can help us make healthier and more productive choices. Below are just a few focused attention activities for you to try for yourself and students!
- Energizing Breath: Have students pant like a dog with their mouths open and their tongues out for 30 seconds, and then continue for another 30 seconds with their mouths closed, taking short breaths with one hand on the belly. Take three energizing pant breaths per second.
- The Deep-Dive Breath: Have students inhale for four counts, hold for four, and exhale for four counts. You can increase the holding of breath by a few seconds once the students find the rhythm of the exercise.
- Movement: This one is for younger children. Direct students to stand and, as they inhale, lift an arm or leg and wiggle it, exhaling it back to its original position. For younger grades beginning these focused-attention practices, it’s good to include an inhale and exhale with any type of movement.
DeSautels, L. (2016). Energy and Calm: Brain Breaks and Focused-Attention Practices. https://www.edutopia.org/blog/brain-breaks-focused-attention-practices-lori-desautels. Retrieved April 25, 2021.
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Mark Your Calendars!
- May 1st: School Principal Day
- May 3rd-7th: Teacher Appreciation Week
- May 4th: Teacher Appreciation Day
- May 7th: School Lunch Hero Day