The most powerful TED talk I’ve watched, was given by a 7 year old…
Molly Wright makes her way across the TED stage and begins…
Molly is not your typical 7 year old.
She is a prime example of what happens when a child’s brain development is nurtured through the early years.
Not only is she a prime example, she’s also an advocate for healthy childhood development.
I learned more from this 7 year old in 7 minutes, than I did reading over 100 books (written by adults) about children and their brains.
When kids are exposed to things like…
A Healthy Home
A Sense of Community
… it contributes positively to their development.
Connecting with our family and community builds and strengthens relationships, encourages trust, promotes positive mental health, and teaches life skills.
I’m sure we can wait until kids are older to start teaching them these skills though, right?
So… When should we be connecting, playing and talking to our kids?
#1. First 5 Years!
Molly reminds us that these years of a child’s life are the most CRUCIAL years in their development.
Brains grow faster in the first 5 years than they do the rest of our lives. By the time kids are 7 years old, their brains have grown to 90% the size of an adults’ brain.
Do not underestimate those first 5 years…
So… What should we be doing those first 5 years?
#2. Serve and Return!
This is Molly’s scientific way of saying… CONNECT! TALK! PLAY!
Children’s mirror neurons are on alert! They learn through connecting and interacting with the adults they trust. Making eye contact and playing games with your child (yes, like peekaboo), are important for their development and for their learning!
So… How often should we be playing games like peekaboo?
#3. Early and Often!
Molly reinforces that we need to be playing these games and connecting with our child as often as we can, and as early as we can!!
Even a 1 year old is aware of the broken connection when our attention is diverted.
Diverted to technology… To our devices…
What would happen if we were distracted by our devices all the time?
When children are not receiving the positive interactions they need for healthy brain development, childhood becomes stressful – even traumatic.
It is harder for children to feel safe, to trust, and to regulate without connection…
Kids NEED positive relationships.
They need connection, to be spoken to, and played with.
They need a healthy and safe home.
To feel a part of a community.
And YOU have the opportunity to give them that.
So, thanks, Molly Wright (the smartest 7 year old I know), for reminding us that a game of peekaboo has the capacity to change the world…
Go do yourselves a favour and watch Molly speak right here!
Well, I think we can all agree that the last few years have been anything but easy…
We are living in a world full of fear and uncertainty. Stress and anxiety is on the rise- and was well on the rise before the world even had a glimpse of COVID-19.
Many of us, myself included, are feeling isolated and alone, struggling to cope with the reality of the world…
If we are struggling… Our kiddos are struggling… How will our kiddos learn to persevere and thrive in this changing and stressful world?
I asked myself this very question when I first began my Mindfulness Club at my little Elementary School (if you haven’t read my last post, make sure you do before reading ahead!). Mindfulness was the answer then, and is most definitely the answer now!
In fact, in this COVID-struck world, I believe the practice of Mindfulness is even more important and more detrimental to our kids (and our own) well-being and resilience than ever before!
In March 2020, one week before our scheduled Spring Break, our schools in Edmonton, Canada shut down completely. We thought we would see our students bright and early Monday morning, turns out, we would not see them face-to-face for the rest of the school year…
I took a deep breath and reminded myself of the ‘controllables.’ No, I could not control what was happening in the world, but I COULD control and was very capable of finding a way to bring mindfulness to my students.
As schools and teachers frantically made plans to teach online, I thought about how to best serve my school community with the power of Mindfulness..
I decided to create a website for my students to access our mindfulness practices in the comfort of their own homes!
Using the platform, Google Sites… Mindfulness Club ONLINE was born!
Google Sites was easy and simple to use for a ‘non-techy’ person like myself. I am by no means an expert when it comes to web design. I prefer simplicity. Google Sites was the easy answer for me!
I designed it with a similar structure to our Mindfulness Recess Club- keeping our Mindful Monday, Wind-down Wednesday & Flexy Friday themes alive! Each Monday, Wednesday and Friday, I would post new breathing activities, yoga videos, games and stories (while getting creative and having familiar faces within our school record a read-aloud of a mindfulness book) for kiddos and their families at home.
I added a couple of extra features and resources on this site, including a virtual Gratitude Wall where students could submit notes of gratitude to an online Google Form. At the end of each week, I would add the submitted notes to a page on my google site, named “That Gratitude Attitude!”
This was created after our real-life ‘Gratitude Wall’ bulletin that hung in the hallways at Sherwood Elementary.
Most of the activities I posted were found for free on youtube (Cosmic Kids Yoga, GoNoodle Guided Relaxations), and breathing activities from a book I already owned (Breathe like a Bear- highly recommended for quick breathing activities for young children).
But… I felt I needed something more… and tailored to these online needs. And that’s where Kids Yoga Stories came into play!
I am a huge fan of Giselle and her work at kidsyogastories.com! I had previously purchased some of her classroom resources, but she had most recently come out with the ‘Keep Calm’ and ‘Get Connected’ packs and I knew I had to jump on those! These packs came with a ton of digital resources that I was easily able to implement onto my Google Site.
As crazy as this year was (and the years have continued to be), it ended up being a lot of fun and an exciting new venture for me: learning to build this site and share my passion in the online world. And surprisingly… easier than I anticipated!
If you are looking for ways to implement mindfulness online, or find new ways to bring these practices to the kiddos in your life, I would love to connect with you and share any insights or answer any questions.
You can send me an email:
And check out my Google Site, Mindfulness Club ONLINE, at the link below for more ideas:
5 PRACTICAL Tips for Educators who are Shifting to Online:
Find an easy “website” platform to use: Choose a platform that is user friendly. Easy for your students to access, and easy for you to use. You don’t need anything too fancy. The point is getting out info to your students, you don’t want to waste a whole lot of time making it look pretty. I used Google Sites. My students and I are already familiar with google applications (easy to access) AND it is designed simply with no excess distracting features.
Be open to using multimedia to address all learning styles: Think about the needs of your students. In the classroom, we differentiate to address different learning styles. Bring that practice with you in your shift online. Record videos or sound clips, add pictures and text. Make it easy and fun for all types of learners. A Lot of my students in Mindfulness Club were younger and weren’t great readers, so for every text I wrote, I also added an audio clip of myself reading the text.
Record YOURSELF and/or known trusted adults: Yes, you could search up videos of ‘professionals’ on youtube who already have videos posted to demonstrate a concept, but students love it more when they see you or someone they know on video! When choosing read-alouds for my Mindfulness Club Online, I recorded myself reading and asked other teachers and office staff in the school to read and record videos of themselves. The kids loved it!
Make it interactive for your students: Find a way to make it interactive for your kiddos. A page of some sorts where they can respond or ask questions on their own. Google Forms can easily be inserted on any page to be used for daily check-in’s, questions of the day, etc. I’m sure there are some other awesome programs out there (maybe even Jamboards) that you could link up to your site, but my personal experience is working with Google Forms on my Google Site.
No stress! Just have fun with it: This is where you get to see this as an opportunity to learn, make mistakes, and have fun while playing around with your site (Gosh, now I really do sound like Ms. Frizzle). You get to design it to let your personality shine through. If you have fun with Bitmoji, this is the perfect time to plaster your Bitmoji-self all over your website!! Ever heard of Bitmoji classrooms? I bet you have! Well, you can link your interactive Bitmoji classrooms all over your site! I have to warn you though.. This one can become a little time consuming if you’re a particular person, like me… So try not to dedicate a whole lot of time to it. (Unless it’s a fun hobby for you of course!)