We are into the second half of the school year already! For the first half of the year, classroom guidance lessons focused on developing students' strengths and thinking more positively about themselves and their experiences. Optimism, self-awareness and self-confidence are the building blocks for resilience. There are so many challenges our children face at younger and younger ages that it becomes important for schools and families to help them bounce back and learn from difficulties. In the upper grades, students have worked on self-awareness and optimism and will continue to do so throughout the rest of the year in conjunction with establishing healthy relationships and problem-solving. In the lower grades we have worked on friendship skills and self-awareness which students will continue to do as we begin to develop strategies for handling social/friendship problems.

In all grades, through the MindUp program, students have worked on stress management which is also important for developing resilience.
The classrooms continue with breathing breaks which we do during classroom guidance as well as activities that have been shown to be impactful in settling the brain. Dan Siegel is a Harvard-trained physician who obtained his PhD in neural psychiatry from Stanford. He has conducted research on brain functioning over the past twenty years and has established The Mindsight Center in California. His research has shown that the practice of mindfulness establishes healthy and strong brain functioning. For the second half of the year, I plan to bring some of his mindfulness activities to classroom lessons as well as activities from MindUp.

Because incidences occur throughout the year, how to respond to bullying behavior is woven through classroom lessons periodically. The definition that teachers most often use for bullying is when someone repeatedly and on purpose does or says something mean or hurtful to another person who often has difficulty defending him/herself. We work on being what is called an up-stander as opposed to a bystander. The suggestions below can help your child with this and these are things we will or have covered in school. The truth is that I see kindness and support from our Jackson Grammar students more often than I see unkind behavior which is something that makes us all smile. 

Help your child be an Up-stander
*Encourage your child to include as many kids as possible, especially
those who may be along
* Practice with your child what they could say if they see someone
being bullied
*Set a good example by speaking up against intolerance in
your life and refuse to participate in gossip

Acts of kindness can be the best antidote to bullying and even the smallest can be far-reaching, like a stone that sends out ripples when dropped in water. I will leave you with this quote:

"When you carry out acts of kindness, you get a wonderful feeling inside. It is as though
something inside your body responds and says yes, this is how I ought to feel."
Harold Kushner

The following is Dan Siegel's website which has interesting articles and information on mindfulness and the brain.